Resumes are a tricky business. They are subjective, hard to write, and your future may very well depend on them. A document, merely 1 or 2 pages long is supposed to reflect your educational and work profile, your credibility and skills and your potential to land the job you want. You might think you have created an ideal resume, but the recruiter on the receiving end may not agree. A 2012 study by The Ladders discloses that most recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds on scanning through a single resume. Hence, the document you may have crafted with a lot of love and ambition might end up in the rejection pile if it doesn’t stand out. Not to worry, here are 5 easy tips to make sure the recruiter gives your resume a second chance:
1. Power through with ‘Power Words’ !
Implemented, conceptualized, promoted, and delivered are just a few of the many power words you can use to demonstrate your abilities. These words are not only eye-catching but also enhance the clarity of what you are trying to convey about your past experiences. Try to seamlessly incorporate at least one key word in every bullet point. Here are some fine examples:
2. It’s all about the numbers!
Subjectivity and bias in your resume are inevitable. After all, it is written to favour your skills and strengths. A good way to support your claims of proficiency is by incorporating statistics and numerical figures. Foresight may be necessary to ensure you keep track of your achievements and associate appropriate figures and percentiles. In sum, tell a story and back it up with numbers! For example, replace a vague phrase such as, “increased profits significantly” by “increased profits by 45%.” Whoa! 45%? That’s the kind of impact you want! Here’s a quick tutorial on how to quantify your resume:
3. Less is more!
What do recruiters look for in the brief six seconds? Your current position, previous employment, and education are the top choices. Hence, you better make it easy for them to find these details, so the resume makes the first cut! The easiest way to achieve this is by keeping a simple, yet modern layout. Sleek is good, but fluff is not! Avoid using ‘Elizabethan’ or ‘flowery’ fonts, stick to legible modern text formats and neutral colors. A consistent, clean format with generous spacing does the trick! Make sure your name, and the titles of positions stand out from the rest of the text to facilitate a quick read. Here are some free templates to make your job much easier.
4. Do not beat around the bush!
Frolicking around facts will only get you a few yawns! Be concise and direct in explaining your professional experiences. Write in active voice and incorporate results every chance you get. Maintain the length of each bullet point to a maximum of two sentences each. Similar to the format, fluff doesn’t work. Unless you are applying to be a professional creative writer, do not incorporate poetry. The following video compares active voice vs. passive voice:
5. Put your ducks in a row!
As I mentioned above, recruiters look for the titles you have held in the past before anything else. It goes without saying that they are most interested in your latest work profile. Ensure to order your work or volunteering experience in reverse chronological order. Starting from your current position to all the other positions that followed before, identify specific months and years of your tenure in each position to clearly indicate the duration of your work.
There are countless resources, online and in-person to help you perfect your resume to current industry standards. Keep a look out for changing trends, and how you can continuously make your first impression more effective. Make those six seconds worthwhile, and score that interview! It is all in your hands.