FOR those of you on the hunt for a job that will get you through these financially challenging times, and looking to create a new resume or re-hash an old one, you might want to consider these nuggets of wisdom to help you polish your ticket to the money-making train.
According to human resource specialist Karen Casalme of Bombardier Transportation Shared Services Center, the paper screening counts as the first elimination round for recruiters. “Recruiters don’t read everything there—especially when they are sifting through,” said Casalme, who appreciates a resume that is well thought of. “In most cases, the window of time I spend scanning the resume is between 10-60 seconds.”
First impressions can make or break your application. So, think of your resume like the recruiter’s first glimpse of who you are and what you have to offer to the company. Here are some key things to ponder on when devising your new resume:
1. Make it easy on the eyes—organize and itemize in ways that are appropriate.
Design your resume for “skimmability.” The presentation of key information has to be made in a way that it is easy to read and understand—not drowning in words. Casalme said: “Focus on effective communication of your value proposition. Use graphs/ratings/visual presentation to speak about your skills and other competencies.” Think of it like a written elevator pitch—you have approximately 30 seconds (tops) to catch their attention and show them why you’re the one for the job. Try asking a friend to read through your resume or maybe sleeping on it after making your first draft and reviewing it the next morning. This will help you see your resume with a fresh set of eyes and pinpoint which parts need more tweaking.
“If you’re confident you have a winning photo, put it there,” said Casalme, who also added that to eliminate aesthetic bias, it is always safe to let your credentials take precedence.
Additional tip: Pick your format wisely. Avoid inappropriate text fonts and unprofessional colors. Basic and classy sans serif or serif fonts are the safer option, and black is always the best (and probably only) color to go with.
2. Tailor-fit your resume for that certain job.
Your resume does not necessarily need to have everything in there (unless they are truly notable)—just the things that you think will help sell you as a person. Highlight the things you think are relevant to the job and avoid using generic descriptions. This makes it easier for recruiters to piece together your abilities and the abilities the job requires. According to Casalme, the certain qualities recruiters look for in resumes differ a bit depending on the role requirement. Thus, when jotting down your experiences: “Focus on the tasks and accomplishments that relate to the position applied for.”
Additional tip: Always keep a master list of all the jobs you’ve had and the things you have accomplished. This will make it easier for you to have an overview of it and pick which ones you’ll highlight for your next job application.
3. Really highlight your accomplishments.
“Seeing their accomplishments highlighted rather than just the tasks they’ve done is a green light,” said Casalme, who also mentioned the practice to put the most current experiences on top. This is called organizing your information in reverse-chronological order, which has pretty much become the standard practice when building your resume. Hiring managers will want to know what you’ve worked on most recently.
Additional tip: Following the “Above-the-Fold” Rule is to make sure that your best accomplishments and experiences are clearly visible on the top third of your resume. That section is what the recruiter or hiring manager will see first, so treat it like your hook to get them to keep reading.
4. Map out your career and job history.
The HR specialist added, “We also get drawn by the progression of their career in a company.”
Don’t just settle with writing down where you used to work. If you have any certain accomplishments within that job, don’t be afraid to note them down. If you’ve been promoted, mention your first job title when you entered the company until your current job title and maybe include the years you’ve had that title or been in that company within a parenthesis.
Additional tip: Focus on what you did in the job, not simply what the job was—there’s a difference.
5. Quantify your accomplishments.
A lot of professionals—especially in the corporate industry—speak the language of numbers. A good thing to consider would be to show them the quantifiable measurements of what you’ve accomplished. Things like: by how many percent you raised sales and exceeded goals or, maybe, how many people were impacted by your work. It shows the recruiter the goals you had and the level of work you exerted to achieve them—thus, perhaps even measuring your efficiency.
Additional tip: Use as many facts, figures and numbers as you can in your bullet points. As was said somewhere in the previous tips, you can also use graphs and charts—but always consider when any of these are appropriate to use.
In addition to all the tips mentioned above, here are some red flags to consider based on an HR specialist:
1. The job-hopper
“Spending less than one year in a company or having multiple employments within a short timeline is a red flag. I suggest, if the reason is due to the company closing down, the candidate should note that down.”
2. Poor grammar and spelling
“Some small errors are forgivable, but only when there is someone who has vouched for the candidate’s character and competency.”
3. Gaps in between employment—especially long ones.
“It’s best to write down what the candidate has been up to so that it’s not left to the prejudice and imagination of the recruiter.”
With all this is mind, you are now probably ready to cook up a killer resume that hiring managers and recruiters won’t be able to resist. What are you waiting for? Get to writing—and don’t forget to save it as a PDF so as to keep your resume format the way you made it to be.