If you’re looking for a new job, you’re probably asking yourself what employers are really looking for and what credentials actually matter to them. When hiring, they will look at both your formal and informal credentials before deciding whether you’re a fit for the job.
Your formal credentials are your professional qualifications and your informal credentials apply to any kind of characteristic, skill or expertise that qualifies you for a particular role.
For example, if you are a marketing professional with five years of work experience and extensive social media experience, you may have the right credentials for a job, even if they aren’t formal ones.
A well-formatted resume that is carefully proofread
A glaring typo or spelling mistakes will get your resume tossed. No-one wants to employ someone who can’t even be bothered to proofread a resume properly. As many as 58% of resumes contain typos and this means that if yours is well-formatted and free of grammatical and spelling errors, you already have an advantage.
The average recruiter spends only six seconds looking at your resume, so it must be easy to skim. This means easy-to-read fonts, bullet points, short sentences and enough white space.
An estimated 90% or more of large companies use Applicant Tracking Systems and you need to echo keywords and phrases from the job description in your resume if you want to make it through the system.
Formal credentials relevant to the job
If you’re in a field where credentials are expected, you need to know how to properly showcase them on your resume. For example, if you’re a Project Management Professional and you’ve worked hard for your certification for the PMP, it can elevate your candidacy so it needs to have a prominent position.
You have limited real estate on your resume and you need to focus on your formal credentials that are most relevant to the specific job.
Skills that fit the job description
Hard skills are easy to define because they usually include technical skills that are a requirement for a position, such as programming (Java).
Soft skills like problem-solving, communication skills and time management are harder to define. It is better to reference them indirectly through your work experience than to list them. For example, instead of saying you have time management skills, you can describe how you completed a major project a month ahead of schedule.
Results that show a candidate’s value
Recruiters aren’t impressed by the buzzwords many candidates use – a skilled communicator, a strong team player or a born leader. A reported 50% of recruiters reject a resume full of clichés.
Don’t just detail what you have accomplished but how you did it and the results you obtained. This calls attention to the value you can bring to the table.
It is easy to say you’re skilled at something but if you can give facts and figures of your results, this makes much more of an impact.
Outside of the box thinking
It is easy to make your resume credible if you have plenty of work experience. It’s a little more difficult if you don’t. Here’s where you need to get creative and think outside of the box.
Volunteer work, side projects and internships deserve a spot on a resume if they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for. Volunteering experience is considered by over 40% of hiring managers to be as relevant as paid work.
Personal qualities that are in demand
Honesty, loyalty, determination and an eagerness to learn are personal qualities valued by employers. In certain cases, employers are prepared to take on someone who is less qualified than someone else if they show a willingness to learn on the job.
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