Last week I was asked to qualify candidates to be presented to an employer who needed to hire someone. I proceeded to review 200 resumes over a period of three hours. The result? I found five people who, on initial review, seemed to meet the qualifications of the job. That’s an average of about one resume per minute. Actually, 70-80% of the resumes got less than 20 seconds and only the most interesting ones got a minute or more.
This is typical for recruiters who must review lots of job applicants who respond to internet postings. They screen large volumes of resumes quickly, looking for reasons to throw most of them away. Then, they dig deeper into the “short stack” of those documents that look promising. If you use your resume to apply for published jobs, then it is likely you will be competing with a few hundred other resumes and you can improve your odds of surviving this grueling process by (1) including what most reviewers want to see and (2) eliminating what most of them don’t want to see.
When you are ready to pursue a new job, here are some things to consider including in your resume:
- Near the top, either a targeted objective (“Senior Financial Executive”, “CFO/Controller”, etc.) or a very brief description of your objective
- A concise list of relevant qualifications or skills.
- Quantified accomplishments and functional responsibilities in the form of bulleted items beneath each specific title in your reverse chronological work history.
- A single font with consistency of use of sizes and styles (bold, italics, capital letters, etc.), along with consistency in formatting of margins, indentations, line spacing, etc.
- 100% correct spelling and phrases that omit personal pronouns such as “I”, “me”, etc.
- Acronyms, industry terms, and other nomenclature that identify experience which recruiters seek to identify.
Here’s a corresponding list of things to consider not including in your resume:
- Near the top, a lengthy summary/profile that describes things you want (“A place where I can make a strong contribution”, etc.) and fails to be specific about the role you desire.
- A lengthy list or group of bulleted items.
- Nonquantified accomplishments and functional responsibilities described in sentences, packed together into large paragraphs beneath each specific title in your reverse chronological work history. Or, worse yet, listing these under functional headers in advance of your work history (the functional resume format).
- Multiple fonts and/or inconsistent use of font sizes and styles, along with other inconsistencies in formatting.
- Spelling errors and complete sentences that include personal pronouns.
- Nonspecific descriptions of your experience that do not identify software systems, methodologies, and relevant industry terms.
In my career book Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!), I discuss these and other suggestions for improving your professional resume. By including what readers want to see and eliminating the bad stuff, you will be able to confidently present your qualifications and gain the positive recognition you deserve.