Resume writing can be a pain, and with 25 percent of Americans searching for a new job in 2019 it can be hard to make yourself stand out based on a piece of paper. The average initial screening time for a candidate’s resume clocks in at just 7.4 seconds, so it is crucial to catch the attention of the person reading it as quickly as possible. A well-crafted resume acts as both a strong first-impression and a convincing sales pitch to catch the reader’s attention and demonstrate why you should get the job over everyone else that applied.
A much-debated aspect of a resume is the length. Most of the time it is recommended to stick to one page for your resume. However, recruiters and hiring managers are 2.3 times as likely to hire two-page resume applicants over similar one-page resume applicants. The benefits of including a second page actually increase with the seniority of the role. In fact, candidates with longer resumes were hired more than 70 percent of the time for mid-level or managerial-level jobs. If you are going to submit two pages though, make sure and fill both pages. Excess white space can make your resume seem weak or incomplete.
With the limited time employers have to review your resume and the increasing use of applicant tracking systems (ATS), the layout of your resume is key. Generally, employers dislike overly complicated or fussy designs which can be difficult to read. The best format for your resume is the “F-pattern” where you align your most important information along the left side of the page and the top corners. This design best mimics the way we skim documents and holds attention for a longer period of time.
Of course, the most important part of your resume is the content. The top third of your resume should be a snapshot of everything the recruiter or hiring manger needs to know about you; your contact information, your professional summary, and most recent job. Most resume experts recommend starting with a summary statement. This is typically a brief paragraph that acts as your elevator pitch highlighting what you excel at and how you can fill this employer’s needs. Resumes are a marketing document, they need to cater toward the intended audience and what they are looking for.
Most of the time your resume will be filtered through an ATS before it reaches a human’s eyes. For ATS optimization, mention key words and phrases that are emphasized in the job description more than once in your resume. If the job description uses a specific acronym to describe a skill that you possess, make sure that it is included in your resume. Additionally, although you may want to include pictures, charts, and graphs to stand out, these extra components likely won’t be interpreted correctly by an ATS. You may want to save them for a separate version of your resume that you know is going directly to a hiring manager.
Sending out one generic resume to all job postings won’t cut it in 2019. You don’t need to rewrite your resume from scratch each time, but try and word your resume in a way that subtly mimics the job description. Jobs today tend to require specialization causing one generic resume to appear less impressive to whomever is reading. Including a skills section, usually below the summary statement, highlights your abilities and experience and shows your value to that company. Your skills should be a short, specific list that can be measured or demonstrated and are rare or in-demand within your field. Save the job description and look at the keywords the employer is using; including those keywords within your resume shows the employer you understand what they do and need as well as helping you optimize for an ATS.
What to leave off
Many people focus on what information they should add to their resume instead of what to omit. In most cases, including 10-15 years of experience is enough to demonstrate that you’re qualified. Adding positions beyond the 20-year mark could date you, clutter your resume, and likely won’t be relevant since they are usually your most junior roles. Additionally, reserve sending references until they’re requested; your resume has limited real estate that needs to be used to showcase your experience and skills. It’s usually best to skip adding a photo of yourself, graphics, logos, or other unnecessary embellishments. Remember, the ATS that will most likely process your application doesn’t understand images or graphics, some can’t handle PDFs, and some won’t read information placed in the header or footer sections of a word document. A good way to test how well an ATS will comprehend your resume is by copying it into a plain text file. If odd symbols pop up or if things appear out of order, that’s how the computer will read and process it.
Your resume is going to be the first impression that you make on a potential hiring manager; make it a good one! With the new age of applicant tracking systems it is important to know how to optimize your resume and give yourself the best chance of being seen by a hiring manager. Hopefully these tips and tricks can help you polish your resume and give you the best shot at landing an interview and the job of your dreams!