On average, a job posted at a Fortune 500 company will receive about 200 applications. Only about 10-15 people are invited to the phone screening, meaning you have at most a 7% chance of making an impression on the recruiter. Those are bad odds, which is why you never want to leave your career up to probability.
Instead, you need your resume to stand out. Most applicants write their resume the exact same way. They use the same techniques, they highlight the same skills, and they submit their application. If you want to make an impression on a recruiter, you need to improve your resume.
Use key words found in the job description.
Yes, you have to customize your resume for the job you're applying to - but don't leave just yet! There's an easy way to do this.
If you're a serial applicant (meaning you're applying to many jobs at one time, like many of us) you truly don't have the time to customize your resume for every single job. Instead, do some quick homework on the front end. Find 5-10 job descriptions that you would like to apply to - I mean, jobs you really want to apply to. Then, highlight the key words in each job description. Look for mentions of skills, technologies, and major job responsibilities. As you continue to highlight, you'll notice many similar words between the jobs. Those are the key words you should include in your resume. Now, when the ATS (applicant tracking system) and recruiter read your resume, they'll see you speak their language and you have the skills necessary for the job.
If you're happy in your job but submit the occasional dream job application, you should customize your resume as much as possible to the job description. To help you out, download the Jobalytics browser extension. When you upload your resume to the tool and open a job description on a webpage, the Jobalytics Resume Keyword Analyzer will show you how closely your resume matches the job description. A match above 70% is considered a very good match.
Highlight your successes.
We were all taught to list our job responsibilties on our resume, but all that does is tell a recruiter what you did for a job. Instead, tell them how good you were at your job. Recruiter and hiring managers want to know someone can do the job, and successes are convincing. If you can quantify some of your successes, your resume will shine amongst the rest.
Phrases like, "improved customer satisfaction by 15%" or "decreased 90-day turnover to 0%" would be great examples to use in your resume. If you don't remember exact numbers, that's ok. Use round-about numbers or, don't include numbers at all. You're still highlighting your successes, which is much more than other applicants can say.
Use your network and grow your network.
It sounds cliche, but networking really does help. If you can find someone to formally (via an employee referral program) or informally (via word of mouth) recommend you, that can take you a long way. People trust the people in their circle, so if someone you know recommends you to a hiring manager, your credibility sky rockets. A hiring manager wants to hire someone they know can do the job, and if someone they trust vouches for you, that's worth a ton.
If you see a job you like, but don't know anyone in your network to refer you, then it's time to grow your network. Ask your co-workers to introduce you to someone in their network at a specific company. Find employees on LinkedIn who are in similar jobs and message them. Send them a connection on LinkedIn and ask if they would be willing to talk more about their experience at the company. If you're feeling bold, send them your resume (if you're already connected or if you have LinkedIn premium) and ask for a referral. Or, even consider messaging the hiring manager. At the very least, message the recruiter if their profile is listed.
If you use these tried and true methods to enhance your resume, you'll build your credibility and increase your chances of being invited to a phone screening.