Alright job seekers, here’s a fun (or not-so-fun) fact: most online job openings receive over 250 resumes each – and depending on your field, it may be even more. On top of this, the majority of hiring managers only spend an average of 6 seconds reading a resume.
So what does this mean for you? Well, to be blunt, it means the odds aren’t necessarily in your favour… but there’s still hope! With a little extra effort and a strategic approach, your resume can go from ignored to impressive.
Here are 4 things to keep in mind while building an outstanding resume!
Remember the basics.
With so many resumes being submitted to every job, you may be tempted to switch things up from the standard formula. However, according to an eye-tracking study, there are a few basic things that catch most recruiters’ attention: simplicity, a logical layout, an overview at the top (like a summary or objective section), and the use of clear, legible fonts.
Since most hiring managers only take a few seconds to scan your resume, it’s important to keep relevant information where it’s easily seen. By getting too out-of-the-box with your formatting or font choice, you could unintentionally hide the pieces a recruiter is looking for.
That’s not to say you can’t add in original elements – especially if you’re applying for a more creative role – but try to work within the confines of a standard margin ( ½”–1” on all sides), a US Letter size and portrait orientation, an easily readable font like 10-12 point Arial or Helvetica, and a chronological format. Oh, and don’t forget to check for spelling, grammar, and typos!
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Tailor it to the role.
Now that you’ve nailed the basics, it’s time to do a little customization. We’re well aware of how annoying it can be to rewrite your resume for every role – but we have to admit that it makes a difference. After all, 61% of hiring managers consider a customized resume the number one tactic to boost your chance of getting a job.
Luckily, the job posting and company career page can act as a helpful tailoring guide. For instance, if they’re looking for someone with leadership experience, make sure to highlight your accomplishments as a manager. If teamwork is a common theme on the company page, emphasize a successful project that was deeply collaborative.
In some cases, you can even use an existing employee’s LinkedIn experience as inspiration for your own resume. Just avoid copy and pasting and make sure your words still reflect you in a truthful light. By the end of your customization process, your resume should display an understanding of the specific company, as well as its challenges and how your experience would help you solve them.
Highlight what’s important.
It can be tough to determine just what to include on your resume. Add too much, and you could lose the attention of your audience. Don’t add enough, and you could sell yourself short. It’s a gamble – but generally, 1 to 2-page resumes are preferred by recruiters.
So, what do you fill those 1-2 pages with? Relevant information (emphasis on the relevant)! Without a doubt, your resume should include:
- Your full name
- Your telephone number
- A work-friendly email address – if you’re still using the email you made up in high school or one you had in university, it’s time to get a simple Gmail account.
- The city where you reside
- A title that describes your experience in relation to the role
- A professional website, portfolio or blog (if applicable to your experience)
- Your LinkedIn handle
- A key skills section (listing certificates, programs, etc.)
- An experience section (with start/end dates, and accomplishments with quantifiable metrics)
On the other hand, don’t include:
- Your date of birth
- Personal social media links (unless they function as a professional portfolio)
- Headshots (unless you work in entertainment, or in the UK/Europe, this is usually not necessary)
- Your experience/education back to high school (only include recent/pertinent experience)
- A skills point system (self-ratings/diagrams are confusing and biased)
Beat the system.
We’re living in an increasingly digital world, which means you may have to beat a computer system or two before your resume reaches a real person. In fact, most companies – including 99% of Fortune 500 – use software known as applicant tracking systems (ATS) to automatically filter and rank applicants based on the job description.
This means that even if you’re highly qualified, you could get rejected by a robot in the first round. It’s important to avoid this by optimizing your resume with the right keywords and being mindful of file type. Shockingly, 43 percent of candidates have submitted resumes that were incompatible with ATS (EG, a PDF instead of a Word file), and been automatically disqualified. Make sure to read application instructions carefully.
Luckily, if you followed Step 2, you are probably on the right track for keywords. If you replicate exact phrasing and spelling from job postings on your resume and cover letter, you are more likely to beat the ATS and move on to the next level. It could be as simple as changing “Adobe Creative Cloud” to “Adobe Creative Suite”, or eliminating unique headers that a computer may not understand.
With these tips at your side, your resume is sure to catch some attention – but if you’d like more tips on how to secure your dream job, join the Pivot + Edge Talent Network. We’re always sharing our top career insights, job postings and all the latest news from our team, and we can’t wait to connect with you!