Today, we are going to discuss 11 Steps To A Recruiter-Friendly Resume.
Technology has changed the way companies do business, and that change extends to the hiring process. Thanks to the Internet, a recruiter may have hundreds of applicants to sort through in order to find the optimal candidate. This means they don’t have time to read them all and tease out the details that may make a candidate perfect for a job. It’s up to you to make sure that your submission works for your recruiter and is ready to impress on first glance. In fact, an eye tracking study by Ladders.com found that employers spend only six seconds looking at a resume the first time. Follow these 11 tips to ensure that your document makes an excellent first impression.
- Make the most important information easy to find.
Studies show that those scanning your document see things in this order: first, they see your contact information. Next, they see the name of the employer, dates of employment, job title, achievements and then education. In order to make the best impression in the first six seconds, make sure that these elements are professional and they stand out. Use a professional email address, and make sure that the first few lines of each bullet concisely summarize the information most relevant to the position.
2) Keep it simple.
When formatting, be sure to keep everything aligned to the left, as this is the way your eye naturally tracks when you read.
Use an easy-to-read font; if you are sending out a paper submission, stick with serif fonts, such as Times New Roman or Courier.
If you are applying digitally, sans-serif fonts such as Arial or Helvetica are easier to read on screen.
Don’t justify your document; it leaves odd gaps that can make scanning difficult.
Choose which elements to bold or italicize very carefully; these should only be used for the most important information and may be lost altogether if the employer uses an automated system.
Don’t add graphics or tables, or use special characters, as many applicant-tracking systems cannot handle them.
Finally, never use all-caps. It’s difficult to scan and can be misinterpreted.
3) Stick to easy-to-use formats.
Always save and submit a copy of your work in MS Word (.doc) or as a .txt document. Your document may need to be altered before being sent on to a potential employer and this ubiquitous format can be opened and edited easier than any other. PDF or image scans, such as .jpg, may not be effectively read by applicant tracking software and your information may wind up distorted or completely missing.
The .txt format is particularly useful for avoiding parsing errors associated with automated screening systems. If you intend to submit in .txt, be sure to open your document and correct any formatting issues prior to submission.
Importantly, if you have the option of uploading or copy/pasting your document, always opt to directly upload it to avoid formatting distortions that may occur in the transfer process.
4) Make it easy for them to find you.
A common mistake job-seekers make it to place their contact information in the header. The problem is that often applicant tracking systems do not scan here; put your contact information in the body of your document. Additionally, name your document with your first and last name rather than something like “John’s CV” so that you can be easily found in the system.
5) Keywords are the key.
The job posting itself can be the key to landing your dream job. The employer has done much of the work for you by describing exactly what qualifications and expertise they are looking for in this position. It’s your job to make sure that your submission reflects how well you meet the needs of the company.
Tracking systems may scan hundreds of documents to determine who is best qualified for a position. Typically, these systems work by matching the keywords sought by the employer to your resume. Those applicants with the highest scores (best matches) have their applications forwarded, and those with lower scored are discarded.
This is why it’s crucial to match your language to the posting by using the same words the employer does. If the job posting asks for a bachelor’s degree in Accounting, list your education accordingly (don’t list a BS in Accounting, for example). This is especially critical in job descriptions. If the employer seeks someone with “experience managing large-scale projects,” be sure that you describe your “10 years of experience managing large-scale projects.” If you have special credentials, list them fully spelled out and with their corresponding abbreviations, as you don’t know what the software might be looking for.
6) Formatting is critical.
Because applicant-tracking software is computerized, it can’t distinguish one piece of information from another very effectively. That’s why it’s critical that you format with these systems in mind. Typically, you should keep the company name on the left and the date on the right side of the page. Under this, add your position title. The remaining lines should contain the description of your duties.
Contact information should be in the main text of the document and it should be labeled (phone, email, etc.).
Be sure that your section headings are singular; do not combine Training and Experience, for example. Each heading should have its own line, and there should be two lines between sections so that the software can appropriately distinguish between sections.
7) Quantify your accomplishments.
It is no longer enough to say you have performed a particular job for x number of years. Numbers talk, but it’s important that they speak the language that the employer wants to hear, so make sure that they relate to the employer’s needs. That’s why it’s important to quantify (measure) your achievements.
When applying for a sales job, for example, provide the number of units or total monetary amount sold in your last position. Money you saved your last employer, customers retained, the number of employees led/supervised, time saved, the number of publications, etc. are all ways to effectively quantify your accomplishments.
In professions in which accomplishments are difficult to quantify, remember to count things like hours of training, number of students taught, time saved due to effective initiatives, and other achievements. Or, use phrases like “top producer” or “led the effort” to rank your achievements as compared to others in your field.
The important element of quantification is that you offer an employer an objective measurement of how you compare to other candidates, allowing them to see how you would improve their workplace.
8) Gather as much information as possible about your intended employer.
Be sure to peruse the company website for information about the company. Try to establish the goals of the company, as well as special interests (such as health care, the environment or equality). If you have experience in any of these areas, be sure to include them to make your submission stand out to the manager or even the applicant tracking software, which may be looking for these types of keywords.
You can also look at the company’s social media sites, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, which may give you more information about the company’s culture and organization.
9) Your grammar and spelling must be flawless.
While this seems like common sense, careless errors are all-too-common and will quickly get your submission tossed aside. Many employers will not even consider interviewing an applicant who doesn’t take the time and effort to proofread.
Poor writing skills communicate that either you aren’t competent for the position or you don’t care enough about it to proofread. Either message is not the one you want to send to potential employers.
Even worse, automated screening systems will not pick up on misspelled keywords, and poor grammar may cause your data to be uploaded incorrectly.
It is imperative that you carefully proofread; if you’re not skilled in this area, be sure to send your materials on to someone who is.
10) Be honest.
The temptation is all too great to count your limited experience with your company’s Excel phone directory as being experienced with the software, but you must avoid it. Overstating your qualifications can damage your professional reputation and lead to problems down the road, including being terminated and even possible legal action. Make sure that whatever information your application materials contain is accurate.
11) Don’t neglect the human element.
Eventually, your submission will find itself to a real person. It’s important to make sure that your use of keywords is natural and you provide a context for them. If you just stuff your submission full of keywords it will make it difficult to read, not to mention obvious that this was your approach.
When quantifying your achievements, it’s also important to keep them in context and make sure they make sense when they find their way to a human being.
Formatting is important to a human reader, as well. While .txt documents are easier for automated systems to handle, .doc submissions are typically easier for a person to read. You must make decisions about this based on the particular job and situation, but it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that eventually, a human being will be reviewing your application.