There are many blog posts and news articles out there providing you with tips, tricks and tutorials on how to make your resume stand out and get you to that next step in hiring process – the interview. I even wrote one myself.
But the sheer amount of, often conflicting, advice given on the topic may be confusing at best and leave you feeling overwhelmed before you even typed out your contact information at worst.
That is why we have combed through some of the more popular articles on this topic written by recruiters and job search experts. When in doubt it’s best to go straight to the source, right?
Here is what most of them agree on:
1. In most cases the process of posting jobs and collecting resumes is automated, so make sure to adjust your resume accordingly.
Save from small companies, employers today are using applicant-tracking systems to weed out less qualified candidates. Big companies, such as Google, Starbucks or Procter and Gamble receive several million resumes per year. Dr. John Sullivan, professor and corporate recruiting strategist says that:
“Although it varies with the company and the job, on average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening.”
In order to make the hiring process efficient, companies are increasingly using ATSes to scan submitted resumes for keywords, relevant experience and educational background that indicate candidate’s fit for a particular position. Even if they are not using ATSes, recruiters have said to search resumes for the same keywords and discard those who lack them.
This is why it is extremely important to customize your profile each and every time when applying for a position.
Recruiters say that about 50 percent of job hunters don’t have basic qualifications for the job they are pursuing. If we make a connection with another research that reports that candidates are known to spend as little as 50 seconds studying position description, it is not really surprising that they come off as insufficiently qualified.
Make sure to study job requirements and to include keywords in your resume.
“Match the terms used in the job description… also include alternate versions:
If the job requires someone who has ‘expertise with Microsoft Office,’ describe it as ‘expertise with Microsoft Office (Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Outlook, both 2007 and 2010 versions).’
If the job requires someone with ‘experience managing social media,’ describe it as ‘experience managing social media (including a LinkedIn Group with more than 5,000 members).’
If the job requires someone holding the ‘PMP Certification,’ describe yourself as holding the ‘PMP (Project Management Professional) Certification.’”
2. Manage your personal web presence.
Recent Jobvite’s research has given us insight into extent and ways recruiters use social media to screen candidates. Results showed that 93% of recruiters will use social media in 2014 to evaluate job candidates and that 55% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate based on his or her social media profile.
Mike Volpe, the CMO of HubSpot, says that his number two reason for ignoring resumes is the fact that he could not find candidate on Google.
Ambra Benjamin, engineering recruiter at Facebook, says that while absorbing candidate’s resume she pays special attention to his personal web presence:
“This includes personal domains, Twitter handle, GitHub contributions, dribble account or anything a candidate has chosen to list. Two out of three times, I almost always click through to a candidate’s website or Twitter account. It’s one of my favorite parts of recruiting. Random aside: I care less about what people say on Twitter and more about who is following you and whom you follow. There’s so much insight to be gained by seeing who values your thoughts.”
It is very important for your online presence to reflect the person you have described on paper and to be presentable. As their future employee you are going to be representing the company and recruiters are screening very carefully to avoid future complications.
3. Well-organized resume with clear visual hierarchy and focus on relevant information allows recruiter to quickly scan its most important features and make a decision.
Study done by The Ladders, which aimed to clarify recruiter’s decision making process, found that recruiters spend only 6 seconds reviewing an individual resume. Make those precious seconds count by having an organized layout.
Eye tracking technology used in the study showed that recruiters tend to follow a consistent visual path when reviewing both resumes and online profiles. Almost 80 percent of time their gaze was focused on following items:
- Current title/Company
- Previous title/Company
- Previous position start and end dates
- Current position start and end dated
There is a lot of debate among recruiters if resume should be creative or not. Some prefer the good old Word document and some are tired of it and would like to find an action figure on their desks from time to time.
Whichever format you decide on, keep in mind three things:
- Your resume should fit the job position you are applying for – If you want to be an investment banker don’t send origami resume, stick to the traditional one;
- Your skills and experience are what matters and the goal of your resume is to showcase them, not overshadow them;
- Traditional resume format is still better that mediocre creative one.
4. Pay attention to details – sometimes a minor error may cause your resume to get rejected.
Typos are often listed as one of the greatest resume mistakes – 61 percent of recruiters will automatically dismiss a resume because it contains typos.
Unprofessional email address get candidates rejected 76 percent of the time. Mike Volpe suggests updating your email address to Gmail with “bonus points if you use an email address associated with your own custom domain because it shows you know something about using the web and technology.”
Pay attention to details. That will serve to prove that you are detail-oriented and that you can be counted on to double check everything of importance.
5. Be honest – white lies are not acceptable.
Even if you don’t have extensive professional experience it is always better to be honest that to embellish your achievements.
It is very disturbing to see that while 96% of human resource professionals check references before hiring, 46% of resumes submitted contain some sort of false information.
Lynne Sarikas, director of Northeastern University’s MBA Career Center states:
“Honesty is the best and only policy. A résumé is a factual history of your work experience. Do not embellish or overstate your accomplishments or responsibilities. Employers value integrity and you demonstrate that by being honest and forthright in all your interactions, starting with your résumé. Many companies will use outside firms to perform verifications with prior employers and schools.”
6. Make it personal – give recruiters a personality to go with the name.
When it comes to thing recruiters rarely see on resumes but what definitely makes the candidate stand out is traces of their personality. People want to know with whom they will be working, who will be a part of their team.
Ambra Benjamin advises candidates to:
“We recruiters are staring at these missives all day long. Throw a joke in there somewhere for goodness sake. Talk about how much you love Nutella (I have this in my own personal resume). If you’re a rockstar, throw some cheeky self-deprecation in there (if you can do so elegantly). I think it’s important to keep the work experience details as professional as possible, but trust me, there are ways to have fun with it. I love an easter egg buried in a resume, figuratively speaking.”
Another way to add your personality to the mix is to include URLs for other web presences, list your key personal projects and use color and lovely typography.
Is there anything else you would like to add to this advice? What did work best for your job search?
This post is part of Personal Branding for Students and Graduates Campaign. If you want to read more about ways to personalize your resume check out the previous post in this series.