Creating a well-crafted resume is important to anyone searching for a job, but it takes patience and preparation to make this document effective. A common mistake is assuming that a well-intentioned resume filled with job-specific information will be enough to gain an interview. In some cases it might be enough, but many companies now utilize an “Applicant Tracking System” to scan for potential resumes. The system is trained to weed out resumes that don’t match the keywords in the qualifications. This is why it might feel like your resume is being released into a black hole, or is rejected on the spot. A resume needs to “beat the system” and simultaneously appeal to a hiring manager during the 10 seconds they spend glancing at it.
Every employer is looking for different criteria, so you need to make sure you tailor each resume to an individual role. You can adapt your resume by reading the job description and highlighting the key functions, systems and skills needed. Without overdoing it you should utilize the description keywords, exactly as written, two or three times throughout the resume. If possible, it is ideal to have your job title match the position title. When utilizing acronyms you should always use the full term, followed by the abbreviation.
The challenge is that eventually the resume will find its way into a real person’s hands and it still needs to be easy to read and visually appealing. Before it even gets to a manager it is being read by ATS, a recruiter or someone who potentially has no direct experience with the position.
Personally, I don’t recommend including an objective as I much prefer to use a summary or profile section that communicates skills and accomplishments. Generally, for ease of reading, resumes are listed in reverse chronological order based on employment history. There are times when a functional resume, which highlights skill sets, would work better. This is generally when there is a large gap in employment or you are planning to start a new career. Most importantly use action verbs, measurable statistics and relevant accomplishments that will help sell your resume.
From a visual perspective, make sure to properly utilize the white space on the page and make sure the text size is not too small. Most managers won’t read past the first page, so keep it consolidated or make sure the first page has all the essential information. Many recruiters will restrict the resume to a single page and I would usually recommend this for certain types of positions. However, there are times when having two pages will be more beneficial. The applicant tracking system will review all pages and so you have the ability to add in more relevant key words.
The process of editing and re-editing a resume can be time consuming and frustrating. It is sensible to properly evaluate each position and apply only when you match most of the needed qualifications and responsibilities. Even the best resume won’t help you get the job if your experience and skill sets are not a good fit. For further resume guidance, reach out to a qualified career coach.
By Jason Gevertzman
Jason Gevertzman, founder of Career Wingman, is a career consultant specializing in personal branding, interview coaching and innovative job search strategies. Jason Gevertzman lives with his wife and two children in Teaneck. He can be reached for a free consultation through CareerWingman.com or by calling 201-817-9946.