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Guidelines for Writing an Effective Resume

According to Forbes magazine, the average recruiter/hiring manager spends an average of 6.25 seconds looking at a resume before deciding if a candidate is qualified. As recruiters ourselves, we agree that a candidate doesn’t have long to impress a recruiter, although we might spend up to 15 seconds per resume. 6.25-15 seconds is not a lot of time to prove you are the perfect candidate for the role.
However, you can make your resume a quick, informative read for recruiters and hiring managers, even with that 6.5 second window. As recruiters, here are some simple tips that we have found really make a resume shine:

According to Forbes magazine, the average recruiter/hiring manager spends an average of 6.25 seconds looking at a resume before deciding if a candidate is qualified. As recruiters ourselves, we agree that a candidate doesn’t have long to impress a recruiter, although we might spend up to 15 seconds per resume. 6.25-15 seconds is not a lot of time to prove you are the perfect candidate for the role.
However, you can make your resume a quick, informative read for recruiters and hiring managers, even with that 6.5-second window. As recruiters, here are some simple tips that we have found really make a resume shine:

Relevancy

Make your resume relevant to the position to which you are applying. To narrow down your information focus on what you are trying to achieve.

  • First, ask yourself what position are you trying to nail?
  • Next, cater your resume to match the position to which you are applying. This doesn’t mean lie. It means to emphasize the skills for which the employer is asking. Don’t focus on ones the employer doesn’t mention. Remember less is more. Too much information can overwhelm recruiters before they can decide if you are a fit for the role.
  • Lastly, make sure the keywords you put on your resume match the job description. Recruiters always look for keywords.

For example, I have some event planning experience, but as a recruiter event planning is neither necessary to my job as a recruiter, nor a skill for which employers are looking. Therefore, I don’t list it at the top of my resume under skills. Remember the skills section of your resume is an opportunity to show recruiters you have the skills for which they are looking. Demonstrate how you obtained those skills and experiences in your employment history.

Bullets vs. Paragraphs

Make sure your resume isn’t too wordy. Much like a PowerPoint presentation you want to immediately grab the attention of your targeted audience (recruiter/hiring manager) and convey your point. However, leave the details for the job interview. Put enough information on your resume to get the recruiter’s attention so he/she will call you. Once you have him/her on the phone, you will be able to be more specific.

Use Action Words

While limiting your content, use action verbs such as managed, coached, enforced, planned, etc. For example, as a recruiter I don’t just recruit candidates, I screen candidates. I don’t just interview candidates, I perform behavioral and job specific interviews.

What Can You Do for Me?

It is also very important to emphasize achievements. Ask yourself how are you able to benefit the business? For example, a job description on your resume might say “increased quarterly revenue.” While that is a good description, a better description would be to say “increased quarterly revenue by 25%.” Recruiters and hiring managers like to see achievements that you could apply at their businesses.
When listing your achievements, consider if you finished a project on time and under budget. If you managed a team, make sure you put how many you managed. There is a huge difference in managing a team of 10 versus 50. Remember recruiters/hiring managers want to know that you can handle the position and make the company successful as well.
Limit Your Employment History to 10-15 Years
Keep your employment history relevant. If you have been working for ten or more years, recruiters and hiring managers do not need to see where you were employed when you were seventeen years old. For instance, I don’t include my job as a Sonic carhop when I was seventeen on my resume, for it has nothing to do with my recruiting abilities. However, if you are a recent graduate, list all your positions.

Limit Your Resume to 1-2 Pages

Also, limit your resume to two pages, maximum. I always say if you have less than ten years of experience your resume should only be one page. You have earned that second page only if you have greater than ten years of work.

Name Your Resume on Job Boards to Grab the Recruiter’s Attention

Recruiters are often attracted to resumes by their titles. Titles also let recruiters know exactly what they are about to open. For instance, if you are looking for a .Net Developer position title your resume “.Net Developer.” If you have experience, name your resume “.Net Developer with 5 years of experience.” Remember the title of your resume is your first opportunity to attract the recruiter’s attention. This is where you must stick out amongst the other candidates who have posted their resume on the same job board. Give the recruiter a reason to look at your resume first.

Review Your Resume for Any Errors

Nothing makes me chuckle more than when I see spelling and grammatical errors on resumes of candidates who claim to be detail oriented. It is easy to oversee errors, especially if you have been working on your resume for a while. Before posting, step away from your resume, reading it later with fresh eyes. Also, send your resume to a family member or friend for review as well. Remember, your resume is not just your marketing piece, but also the employer’s first impression of the quality of work you will perform. This is not a time for errors.

Don’t Put Personal Information on Your Resume

I have received resumes with a wide variety of information included such as hobbies, marital status, pictures, and even social security numbers. A resume is not a dating profile. Sometimes personal information can lead to unintended discrimination, which brings me to my next point- keep all social media sites professional. Be aware that sometimes security settings do not save you, so play it safe with your social media sites. Recruiters don’t need to know what you do with your free time, and they definitely don’t need to know your family structure. As these details are not relevant to any position, leave them off your resume.
Writing a resume is difficult. You never want to sell yourself short, but if it’s overwhelming, the recruiter will knock you out of the running. Remember to keep your resume short, concise, relevant to the position to which you are applying, and free of grammatical errors, and you will have a new position in no time.
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