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Supercharge Your Resume and Cover Letter: Respond to These Six Key Phrases in Job Postings

By Martin Yate

Understanding the secret language of job postings can supercharge your resume, your cover letter, and your answers to interview questions.

Communication skills, multitasking skills, works closely with others, creativity, critical thinking skills, and leadership.

They are so commonly used they are often dismissed as meaningless.

Far from being meaningless, they represent a secret language that many job hunters never really grasp. The ones who do "get it" are also the ones who get the job offers.

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The Foundations of Success

That is because these six key phrases represent the skills that enable you to do your job well, whatever your job may be. They are known as transferable skills because no matter the job, the profession, or the rank, these skills make the difference between success and failure.

For example, when "critical thinking" or "problem-solving skills" are mentioned, it means the employer is looking for someone who knows his or her area of responsibility well enough to identify, prevent, and solve the problems the work naturally generates every day.

While "works closely with others" refers to being a team player and all that that involves, it also embraces the communication skills you employ to work effectively with others in your area of expertise.

Talk of "communication skills" always means verbal, written, and listening skills, but to an employer, it also refers to the supporting communication skills of:

  • Technological literacy
  • Dress
  • Body language
  • Social graces
  • Emotional maturity.

Together, these eight components of effective communication impact the power and persuasiveness of all your interactions with others.

When you possess these transferable skills, and when you can express in your resume and cover letters that you possess them, you can dramatically increase the number of interviews you get.

Moreover, when you understand how these skills affect your daily work, and can tell interviewers about your work in a way that highlights your application of these skills, you will be one big step closer to turning interviews into offers and succeeding on the job.

The Secret Language in Your Resume

In a resume, you might decide to highlight such highly relevant achievements with a Performance Highlights or a Career Highlights section right after your Professional Competencies section.

A Performance Highlights or Career Highlights section will comprise a short sequence of bulleted statements, each addressing one of the company's stated requirements and thereby emphasizing the fit between employer needs and your capabilities.

Illustrate with an example if you can do so succinctly:

Performance Highlights

35% increase in on-time delivery + 20% reduction in client complaints.

Effective Operations Management demands understanding of every department's critical functions and time lines. Building these considerations into daily activities helped:

  • Finance & Supply Chain save $55,000 in last three quarters.
  • Increase productivity with a 35% increase in on-time delivery.

These on-time delivery increases were achieved with improved stakeholder communications, connecting Purchasing, Supply Chain, Customer and Customer Service

  • Delivered 20% reduction in client complaints.

The Secret Language in a Cover Letter

In a cover letter, where there is more space, these words and phrases might appear with a company's job-posting requirement noted in quotation marks followed by an achievement in that area:

"Analytical/Critical thinking/Problem-solving skills"

  • Thorough knowledge of the issues that impact productivity in Operations; have enabled a 35% increase in on-time delivery.

"Work closely with" and "Communication skills"

  • Improvements in on-time delivery also made possible by improved communications with stakeholders: Purchasing, Supply Chain, and Customer Service. This delivered a 20% reduction in client complaints.

"Multitasking"

  • Effective Operations Management demands understanding of every department's critical functions and time lines. Building these considerations into daily activities helped Finance & Supply Chain save $55,000 in last three quarters.

Every time you see a job posting use the six transferable skills/key words and phrases, think how that skill is applied in each aspect of your work. Then, recall examples that illustrate how you used that skill in the identification, prevention, and solution of the daily problems that are the meat and potatoes of your average day.

Supercharge Your Future

Understanding the secret language of job postings can supercharge your resume, your cover letter, change the way you think about your work and how you prepare answers to interview questions. Subsequently, when you apply the transferable skills to the challenges of your work every day, they can change the trajectory of your professional life.


About the author...

Successful careers don't happen by accident. Professional resume writing expert Martin Yate CPC is a New York Times best-seller and the author of 17 Knock Em Dead career management books. As Dun & Bradstreet says, "He's about the best in the business." For FREE resume-building advice and to view Martin's resume samples, visit the Knock Em Dead website. Join Martin on Twitter at @KnockEmDead and also on Google+.



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