Have You Ever Read 150 Resumes in an Hour?
It’s resume season as newly minted graduates dive into the job market and experienced professionals look for opportunities to better meet their career goals. I urge you to put on your recruiter hat as you develop your resume and think about the people who will be reading this important part of your professional tool kit.
In the government sector as well as many business environments, resumes are scanned electronically to pick out key words that represent skills and competencies required in the job description. You may have amazing credentials but if you don’t customize your resume to fit each job opportunity, you won’t make the first cut. The one size fits all resume will not serve you well.
Typically, a reviewer spends 15-30 seconds on the first glance of a resume. It’s amazing how much you can glean in that very short time. Your resume is meant to entice the reader to interview you so your task is to convey why you are a terrific value-add for the job in a concise document.
Here are some best practices to help your resume shine:
- If you are an experienced professional, don’t lead with your education, lead with your experience. Reserve the education-first style for new graduates.
- Consider a professional skills or competencies section to front load why you are a good fit, especially if you are a career changer or don’t have experience in the job field.
- Use strong action verbs to describe what you have done in past positions. Bullet points are easier to digest than paragraphs and allow the reader to scan for key words.
- Choose a clear font and don’t go below 11 point size. If you blind the reader with small print you won’t get the job.
- Look at the job description and use the SAME verbiage if you can honestly say that you have relevant experiences.
- The rule of thumb is one page per ten years of experience unless the employer asks for a curriculum vitae or CV format (often the case in academia) which allows you to elaborate.
- Spell check, proof, and share the document with your advisers for feedback. Typos and grammatical errors will land your resume in the garbage – no matter how well qualified you may be.
- Don’t be shy about showcasing your strengths. List your accolades and accomplishments and consider ways to distinguish yourself in print.
Bottom line – customize your resume for every job opportunity and showcase your strengths.