For many Job Seekers, it is the biggest challenge facing their job search – getting their resume read. A person may match up very well with the job description qualifications and may feel very confident in an interview, but you still have to figure out a way to get the Recruiter or Hiring Manager to notice (in a positive way) your resume.
A Recruiter or Hiring Manager is most likely the person who will be reviewing your resume (outside of any computer-driven assessing tools used within a company’s Applicant Tracking System). Neither group is in a situation where they are full of excess time. A Recruiter is probably carrying a large requisition load, while a Hiring Manager is trying to perform their regular job while being distracted with having to fill this open position. So, you are in a situation where your resume (yes, I know the one that you sweated over for hours) may only be looked at for a matter of seconds before a “Yes”, “No”, or “Let Me Read More” decision is made by the reader. You, therefore, need to find a way to grab the attention of the reader in order to avoid the “No” pile. Once you get in the “No”, it is very hard to get out unless the prospective employer becomes desperate and decides to review again. Fortunately, there are several doable tasks that can be done to your resume to move your candidacy on to the next step. Let’s examine now what you can do (or avoid doing) to assist the reader.
• Don’t Overwhelm – I know (from past experience) that when I see a resume that is in small font and on several pages, I sigh thinking about the time that will be needed to review. While a lengthy resume should not automatically place you in the “No” pile, it may cause a delay in reviewing your document, as the reader focuses on documents that are easier to read. In most situations, a resume should be 2 pages or less, with a font of at least 12 point. You should also make sure your resume allows for reasonable margins, therefore, providing some white space on the edges. Be sure to only include items that are clearly relevant to the position, so eliminate work experience, personal interests, etc. that do not relate to the job.
• Mimic the Job Posting – You may have read or heard about using “buzzwords”. This may sound like a great idea, but which ones should actually be used? Rather than guessing or using the ones you personally want, consider customizing your resume using the job posting as your guide. Rather than wondering what words to use, the job posting should lead you directly to what is desired. This will not only assist you with the human reader, but also with only computer artificial intelligence designed to scan your resume.
• Give Them What They Want – Put yourself in the shoes of a Recruiter or Hiring Manager when writing your resume. What do they want to read? It is most likely not a list of every task you performed in every position you have worked. They want to get a quick sense of your work history, education/certifications, and key accomplishments. This information needs to be easy to find and easy to read. That is why for most, a Summary of Qualifications has replaced the Objective Statement at the top of a resume.
• Format for the Quick Review – Unfortunately, many resumes are bursting with line after line of text in a narrative format. As you can probably imagine, this makes it difficult to quickly pull out the information wanted, and is more designed for a thorough reading that takes time. Rather, consider writing your resume with headlines and bullet points, in order to quickly grab attention where a person’s eyes naturally go to.
• Don’t Forget to Sell – Don’t edit down your resume where you get to the point where you are not selling your candidacy. This is where having the “Summary of Qualifications” early on in the document will pay off. The reader will usually immediately go to this section with his/her eyes and will finish then with a positive image of the candidate.
If you find that your current resume fails the test on any of the above bullet points then consider editing your document to make it easier for the reader. The time spent tweaking may be just what is needed to grab the attention of the Recruiter or Hiring Manager and give yourself a competitive advantage.
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: