|By Richard Spragg||
|October 19, 2012 12:24 PM EDT||
So you've got your resume together and it's looking good. You've got your past experience laid out clearly, you have an appropriate level of detail about the things you've done. You've got your academic qualifications listed out in the right order and again, the right level of detail. You've got no gaps anywhere. No rambling personal statements. A couple of things you do outside work for conversation starters. It's good. Well done. You're not getting a job.
Talk to anyone who works in recruiting for a large employer and they'll tell you about the stack of resumes they have to go through. A lot of people I know work for corporate recruiting departments; these are hard working and diligent people, but they've got 500 resumes to review in a day alongside all their other responsibilities. How long do you think they're going to spend on each one? The average works out to be about 10 seconds. You have 10 seconds to find your way from the ‘for review' pile into the ‘of interest' pile. That's the stack that gets a second sweep. If you want to get a job, you have to pass the ten second test. There are no exceptions.
Here's 5 pieces of advice that will help you survive the first cut.
Layout A lot of people who hit the ‘no interest' stack do so because the recruiter can't see what they're looking for during the ten seconds, not because it isn't there. Make sure the layout is very clear. Use large bold headings that communicate the information everyone is looking for.
Job titles are the most important thing Nothing on your resume matters more than the jobs you have done. Job titles should match the job you want. Don't use internal language specific to the company you worked at. You were a Planning Engineer. So the job title is Planning Engineer. That's what everyone's looking for - show them it. Do not have headings like ‘Project Controls Coordinator - Section 4' just because that's what they called it at ABC Ltd. Call it what the market calls it. It's Planning Engineer. In a lot of cases the first sweep of your resume is being undertaken by a pretty junior person. Not everyone at this level is an expert. In some cases, if you use any term other than the job title they are recruiting for, you could end up in the ‘no' stack simply because the entry-level HR person doesn't now that a Planning Engineer might be called a Commercial Manager in some roles.
Length You can't view an 8 page resume in 10 seconds. Period. No, you don't want a one page resume. But four is getting to be too long, even if you have a lot of experience. 2-3 pages is good.
Bullets, not paragraphs It's time for poetry, not prose. Think modern minimalism, not classic novel.
- Get the main point across
- Don't duplicate anything
- Don't use adjectives or floral language
I see so many resumes that insist on descriptive writing. Frankly, if you can't write a haiku that fully sums up your job seeking aspirations, then you're over thinking it. This will also help with the overall length of your resume.
Planning engineer Worked on oil and gas projects Seeks job in Houston
No gaps in any information Ambiguity does not leave the door open for more opportunity in this environment. You need to make sure you're covering all the elements that people are scanning. Not identifying where you want to work, will not leave all options open. You can't go in the ‘of interest' stack if you haven't made your intentions clear. Available for work anywhere in the continental USis fine. Just don't leave anyone guessing, they won't bother to guess, they'll just dump you and move on to resume 347.
Once you're in the 'of interest' stack, you'll get a second review with the attention and care that you deserve. But don't ever underestimate how important it is to make the first sweep. You may be a Director, you may have graduated college 3 weeks ago - you'll all be in the first stack together. Nobody gets a pass.
You can find more information on how to avoid the pitfalls of bad resumes by downloading our free white paper with resume advice.