In 2012, TheLadders published a study which found recruiters spend on average just six seconds looking at a resume before initially deciding whether or not a candidate is a good fit. That means you’ve likely spent the same amount of time so far reading this article, as a recruiter will spend considering your credentials.
Think of your resume as a snapshot of your skills, experience, and accomplishments. Effective resumes immediately grab a hiring manager’s attention with a summary of qualifications and explain, in as few words as possible, what you bring to the table and how you can contribute to an organization.
Below are my favorite tips for making a resume more effective.
Provide a Summary
The first thing on your resume after your name and contact information should be a “Qualifications Summary”. In about five bullet points, you need to outline your experience and skills. For example, one line might say, “3+ years’ experience processing, multi-state, multi-period payroll for 500 employees using ADP”.
Focus on the Present & Near Past
Hiring managers are most interested in what you’ve achived in your current and previous position. So the bulk of your resume should likely focus on your last three to five years of experience.
Quantify & Qualify
Be specific about your experience. Did you increase sales in your division by 25%? Maybe you managed 60 customer accounts Statewide with average annual sales of $1.5 million. Make sure you highlight your strengths and accomplishments.
Read job postings carefully. If certain words appear multiple times in a listing, or in listings for similar positions, then you know they are important. If a job posting says, “Access database experience required,” and you have experience in Access, be sure it’s listed on your resume. Recruiters often use keywords to hunt for candidate resumes in their applicant tracking systems. So the more keywords you have on your resume, the higher you are ranked in their searches and the more likely they are to contact you.
Your resume should be in chronological format and no longer than two pages. Functional resumes or hybrid formats are typically a red flag indicating you’re trying to hide or disguise a blemish on your resume. And don’t put your contact information in a header or footer. Headers and footers are often deleted by systems when you submit your resume online.
If you’re clear and concise in your resume, it will set you apart from most other applicants. You’ll know the changes you’ve made to your resume are working if you see an increase in the number of calls you get. Remember your resume’s just a snapshot meant to let hiring managers know you meet their requirements and are worthy of further consideration.