An excellent article caught my eye recently. Written by a top recruiter who has worked with a range of sectors, it focuses on the mistakes that job seekers make on resumes which most get noticed by recruiters. It’s well worth reading the entire article — especially if you are looking for work in the IT sector — however, I would like to point out a few key points which, from my experience, are particularly true and somewhat universal for all job seekers.
1. Don’t bother with paper.
The recruiter plainly says “I hate paper. I do everything online.” She later suggests that resumes should be emailed, not faxed, nor hand-delivered. Stay away from using an outdated approach that inconveniences the recruiter — insisting on handing a paper copy of your resume to the employer in person might make you stand out, but not in a good way.
2. Make sure to include all the important keywords.
Besides the convenience of not having to deal with paper, the recruiter’s main reason for insisting on electronic resumes, is that she searches the resumes electronically for certain keywords. Keep in mind, though, that it isn’t enough to simply list the keywords — make sure that the words are included in the relevant work experience, so the recruiter can understand how and when those skills were used.
3. The recruiter will focus on your recent work experience
Expect the recruiter to be curious about why the last job ended and whether your recent experience is relevant to the job to which you have applied. She also will focus on career progression — have you moved upwards in your career? Is it clear how the job to which you are applying fits into your career path?
Interestingly, while she is interested in what you have done over the years, she mentions that she doesn’t mind a gap in your resume. It’s all in how and whether you explain yourself:
I don’t mind gaps so long as there’s a sufficient explanation. Oh you took three years off to raise your children? Fine by me, and might I add: #respect. You tried your hand at starting your own company and failed miserably? Very impressive! Gap sufficiently explained. Whatever it is, just say it. It’s the absence of an explanation that makes me wonder.
4. Share your online profile
The recruiter mentions that she particularly enjoys reading up on candidates online, if you share links to your personal websites or social media profiles. So make sure to include your LinkedIn URL, blog, Twitter handle or other relevant (and appropriate, of course) on your resume.
5. Try not to be too boring
If you have something to share that makes you more interesting and perhaps helps the recruiter better understand who you are, share links to them. Try to be a little creative on your LinkedIn profile — share some personality together with all that valuable information. Remember to stay professional in your tone, though — for example, she warns against writing in first person, recommending that you:
…eliminate pronouns (e.g. my, I, she, he) from your resume altogether. Instead of writing “I helped increase overall sales by 300% by breeding rabbits in my garage,” eliminate the “I” in that sentence. Go through your resume and remove all the pronouns and rewrite the sentence to make it sound like a bullet point. By “past tense” I mean that your resume should always be voiced from the perspective of something you already did, not something you’re currently doing.
Bottom line: “recruiters move quickly”
When prescreening candidates, recruiters rush through resumes.
Total time it takes me to do all of above: < 25 seconds.