While the news of an improving American economy gives job seekers a glimmer of hope in the employment market, the competition is more fierce than ever before. In order to “bring your A game,” it becomes necessary to take a second look at your resume, to ensure you’re prepared to face-off with the toughest opposition. These are the top six areas of the resume that warrant immediate attention.

What’s the objective?

Any resume still utilizing an objective statement should remove it, and create a compelling introduction that includes a personal branding statement. A customized career summary and perfected personal branding statement will capture the hiring authority’s attention and provide all pertinent information directly-the intelligence necessary in the determination to schedule an interview.

Keep in mind, the average employer spends less than 10 seconds reviewing each resume, and their focus is on the first half of the first page. Failure to provide a resume with an impressive summary will turn into the candidate’s “sudden death” in the consideration process.

Could there be a design flaw?

Professional resume writers understand the time and effort that goes in to its design and formatting. Someone just entering the job market should have a resume that looks much different from a C-level executive. Utilizing the incorrect format or a flawed design will ultimately set the job seeker up as amateurish and unqualified for their target position.

Using keywords?

When a resume is received by the employer, they likely use a software scanning system that searches for keywords based on the position. Not including those keywords means the software will not identify the candidate as qualified to move to the next step. When the document is being reviewed by a recruiter or human resources associate in the preliminary review process, failure to have keywords easily found results in the same result.

Making general statements?

Every job seeker must differentiate themselves from their competition. Making a statement such as, “excellent team-player,” or “quality provider of customer service,” says absolutely nothing to the employer. It is essential to provide an example that illustrates how the candidate is an excellent team player, versus just making the blanket remark. A better inclusion would be “directed and managed a sales team of 15, from 1 million to 9.5 million in annual production.” Provide accurate and detailed information to insure the resume stays in the “keep” pile.

Talk in the tangible.

The space on a resume is very valuable. Including things such as detail-oriented, quality communicator, etc., waste important space, and take away from the job seeker’s ability to articulate the reason this employer should hire him or her. Speak in terms of definable skills and experience, and avoid describing the intangible qualities that anyone can say they posses. Again, this is where specific examples rule the resume.

Tell about past employment experiences.

When listing previous employers, it is essential to avoid merely giving the stock description of the position. Afterall, the goal is to be different from the rest of the pack applying for the same job! Focus on addressing challenges faced in former roles, how they were handled, and results. Provided the job seeker meets the employer’s qualifications, this single change instantly captures the recruiter’s attention, and enables the candidate to outperform their competitors in round one of the hiring process.

The overall goal of every resume is to gain the attention of hiring managers and to prompt him or her to schedule the interview. Candidates must create a resume that shows their differences from every other job seeker on the market.

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