I’ve reviewed tens of thousands of resumes over the course of my 15-year recruiting career. During my tenure as both a staffing recruiter and a hiring manager and now in my position as a Corporate Recruiter, I receive an average of 40 resumes per day.
To swiftly separate strong candidates from the pack and help Celerity source top talent for our consulting teams, I have to quickly determine which applicants meet the minimum level of qualifications for an open role. If you’re currently job searching and want a recruiter to pay special attention to your resume, here are some basic “Do’s and Don’ts” that will help your resume rise to the top of the pile.
- Research different formats until you find the right one for your particular industry and experience. For example, if you’ve had a lot of jobs or inconsistencies in your career to date, consider using a functional format. This will allow you to highlight your skills and qualifications at the top and then streamline your work experience below in a clear timeline.
- Be consistent in your formatting, font sizes, alignment, spacing, and styles. Eleven-point font is most commonly accepted. Botching something so simple gives off the impression that you give poor attention to details.
- Include dates with month AND year, not just the year. Stating you worked somewhere from 2012-2013 could be anywhere from two months (December 2012 to January 2013) to two years. Make it clear!
- Highlight the most relevant experience, skills and qualifications for the job you are applying for FIRST. Don’t make recruiters look for it; we need to find what we’re looking for immediately!
- Use the right keywords. Comb through the job posting you’re applying for and make sure some of the keywords are reflected in your resume. This will help get a recruiter’s attention if he or she is using a resume database or moving quickly through a big stack. This will also make your resume more searchable within the online realm of recruiters.
- Quantify your success on your resume and be prepared to back it up. For example, if you completed a campaign that led to a 150% increase in customer response rate, you should be able to explain how you arrived at those numbers. Nothing kills an interview quicker than when the candidate is unable to validate the success their resume clearly states they’ve had.
- Be succinct. You should highlight your strengths just enough for recruiters to see how you can fit in with what they are trying to do. The right amount of detail (without writing a novel) will make them want to call you to find out more.
- Include a section with current and most relevant technology skills. Nowadays, it's expected that most people have used MS Office but what else do you know that's more current? Include Adobe skills, IT programs and software, social media skills, etc.
- Provide the link to your LinkedIn profile or personal website, so the recruiter can get a broader picture of your personality and interests without having to figure out which “John Smith” you are.
- Make spelling errors. They are the worst offender. Use spell check, read and re-read your resume, and then read it again! Have friends review it as well. One of the most common errors I come across is “Manger” for “Manager.” If you're an account “manger,” I am not calling you back!
- State your career objectives, unless you’re going to write a clear, concise and customized objective for the specific position you're applying for. Otherwise, this is just an unnecessary filler.
- State that references are available upon request. This is implied, so saying it just looks like you needed an additional line item on your resume. All prospective employers will request references if they feel you’re worth further consideration, and they expect that you'll provide them if interested in the role.
- Write a novel. If you're only one year out of school, your resume should be one page. As your career progresses, your resume length should clearly increase, but never under any circumstances should I have to comb through 6 pages of a resume. That is simply too much information, and you should review the link above for better formatting options to streamline content.
- Distract the reader. Originality is great, but be careful when trying to make yourself stand out from the rest. You should rely on the content to do that. Including a picture or using unique fonts and colors will only make recruiters think you are trying to hide what’s not in your resume (solid experience) by covering it up with fancy distractions.
Do you have any resume writing questions? I'd love to hear them!