I’ve been in recruiting for over 15 years now, and if there’s one thing that shocks, and upsets, people more than anything else about what I do it’s how much time I spend reviewing a resume. My resume review process may take me between 15 to 30 seconds to sort a resume into one of two categories… Fit or No Fit, with the rare “Not sure/review again later.” This simple fact tends to elicit some emotionally charged reactions that are understandable… to a point.
We expect experienced professionals and skilled workers to perform their tasks effectively and QUICKLY. But when it comes to recruiting, I’m apparently supposed to pretend that this is the first resume I’ve seen in my life, not the 72nd this evening! A great recruiter can quickly review a resume and determine whether or not there is a baseline match and this shouldn’t come as a shock. As an applicant, keeping this fact in mind when creating a resume is a major key to success that will stand alone and represent you. Success in an active job search can come to a screeching halt if you have not prepared a resume that will maximize your chances of being called up for an interview.
Ever wonder how a recruiter views your resume? Here’s what I look at when having to make the tough decision to either “go” or “no go” an applicant.
1. Objective Statements
No I actually don’t read these anymore. I’ll glance at an objective statement with a split second hope that it may be different and useful. Unfortunately, an objective statement typically shares little more than a list of demands a prospective employee is laying before an employer rather than summarizing the talent, skills, value, and experience he/she is bringing to a company.
Advice: Ditch the Objective Statement and go with a summary of your professional experience and skills and call it a Professional Summary
I begin my a resume review by looking at titles. As I look at all the job titles on a candidate’s resume I am looking for work experience that is similar to the core duties of the position. I am also looking at progressive work experience. I am hoping to quickly determine if the positions the candidate has held in the past have prepared him/her for the position I’m working to fill. As I am looking at titles I am keeping in mind the fact that titles vary and don’t always mean the same thing.
Advice: If you previously worked as a Sales Executive and you’re applying for an Account Executive position… THEN CHANGE YOUR TITLE. You’re not being dishonest, this is simply jargon and semantics. Don’t allow company specific jargon to keep you from advancing thru the resume review stage.
When I look at companies I’m looking at the size and the industry of the company. At smaller organizations an employee may be wearing multiple diverse hats. Industry is important too. An applicant with several years experience in retail sales coming into a B2B sales role may require a longer ramp up period than someone with several years of B2B sales experience.
Advice: Use ONE line on your resume to explain what the company does and draw comparisons between your prior employers and prospective employers. This quick education will go far in keeping your audience focused on you during the resume review stage.
4. Dates of Employment
The disclosed dates of employment are where the overwhelming majority of “white lies that ruin trust” are found. Not including the months in dates of employment forces a recruiter to assume minimums not maximums. For example, if you state you worked at a company from 2012 to 2013, then a recruiter doesn’t know if you were there from December of 2012 to January 2013 or for an entire two years. Stop playing a cat and mouse game with the truth on your resume. Furthermore, stop listing yourself as “currently employed” if you are not. Stating July 2007 to CURRENT is an outright lie if you stopped working there more than a week ago! These white lies wear on trust and with the existence of so much competition for a position most lies remove otherwise qualified candidates from contention.
Advise: Include month and year.
5. Responsibilities. Or, dare I say, accomplishments? A recruiter can dream!
The typical resume contains duties and responsibilities listed under each employer/title/dates section. The worst resumes contain an obvious cut & paste from a job description. A recruiter is hoping to find in this section a concise list of quantified accomplishments. For example: Grew sales territory by 83% year over year within first 10 months in territory.
Advice: The formula to use is Action Verb + Quantified Result + Timeframe = 1 Accomplishment
Alternatively, if you didn’t document and can’t remember specific numbers you can build an acceptable accomplishment by finishing your accomplishment statement with “resulting in.” Give it a try!
Many of the positions for which I recruit have either certification or education requirements. That being said, experience beats education every day of the week and twice on Sunday! For this reason, I recommend your lead with experience then follow with education.
Actually you don’t get bonus points for grammar, spelling, and format but this is an area that can sink your chances during a resume review session. Again, keep in mind, you are up against quite a bit of competition for this job. You could lose an opportunity to an equally qualified candidate because your spelling was “horrable” or “you’re grammar funky is.”
PS I share this info not to criticize or draw attention to the workload of a recruiter, but rather to help great candidates communicate their greatness!