A recent search on Amazon revealed well over 1,000 different books on writing effective resumes. Career development experts offer many different opinions on how a resume should be written and formatted. Should the resume be chronological or functional? Should it be written to reflect accomplishments with quantifiable results? How many jobs should you list if you have more than 20 years experience?
I am sure that many of these books present excellent strategies for answering these types of questions. Having received, reviewed, or written thousands of resumes in my career, there are certain methods that I have found that prove most effective. Here are some points that are important to know when creating your resume.
Remember the Goal of Your Resume
Your resume’s primary goal is to pique the interest of the recruiter or hiring manager so they will call you in for an interview. Almost all hiring decisions are based on an in-person interview and in most cases the decision to invite a person in for an interview is based solely on the resume. The resume must hit a home run. If the resume that you are using is consistently generating interviews – congratulations. If it is not, then consider these points.
Know Who You are Dealing With
In most cases, a corporate recruiter will be responsible for sifting through the large number of resumes that the company receives and making the determination to either call you in for an interview or to pass your resume on to the hiring manager.
- Recruiters are normally working on multiple job openings supporting different areas within their employers. It is unreasonable to think that a recruiter is knowledgeable about all the nuances of your profession. Within the Learning and Development world, will they know that eLearning is also spelled out as e-Learning and can be synonymous with online learning, on-line learning, computer-based learning, computer-based training, WBT, CBT, etc.? You cannot assume that they will.
- Recruiters’ time is limited. They do not have the time to thoroughly review every resume that they receive.
- Studies have shown that experienced recruiters make their initial assessment on a candidate within the first 5-10 seconds. Sometimes these assessments are correct; in other cases they are not.
- Recruiters will in most cases be using key words that they find on the job description when conducting their search of resumes received. If your resume has the words contained in the search criteria, your resume will be seen. If the resume does not possess the words in the search criteria, in most cases your resume will not be seen.
You MUST Take the Time to Customize Your Resume for Each Job Application
There is nothing that you can do to improve the likelihood of being called in for an interview more than to customize your resume for each job that you apply for. To do this, review the job description and then answer two questions:
- Is all the experience that I have that is relevant for this particular job reflected on my resume? Take the time to thoroughly review the job description. Include all experience from all of your prior jobs that would be relevant to this employer.
- Is the resume properly weighted? What I mean here is does your resume stress your skills and experience in the same order of importance as what is listed on the job description? For example, if the job that you are applying to involves responsibilities for designing and developing learning solutions your resume should reflect this experience before any mention of other experience you may possess. The easiest way to shift the weighting of your resume is to have the most relevant bullet items appear at the top of a bulleted list.
This is the method that we utilize at KnowledgeStaff. Since we have begun customizing the resumes of our consultants and candidates, we have experienced an over 90% hit rate for generating interviews. Yes, some of this success can be placed on the fact that we take the time to truly understand our clients’ requirements however more important, is that we make sure that the resumes we submit tell the correct story that our clients want to read. This is your challenge too.
Beat the 10 Second Rule
As indicated above, recruiters will make their initial assessment on your resume and experience very quickly. That means that the beginning section of your resume must get you past the 10 second rule. The best way to do this is to have a strong summary section that contains 4-5 bullet items that speak directly to the job description and illustrate how and why you are on target for the job. The summary section must convey to the recruiter or hiring manager why you merit being invited to interview for the position.
The Resume Is Your First Impression
It goes without saying that in most cases your resume will be your first interaction with the company that you are hoping to work for. Your resume must be visually pleasing and error free. Be sure to pass your resume on to a few people to get their feedback and to make sure that all grammatical or formatting errors are caught and corrected. Make the correct first impression.