The resume is arguably the most important asset in your career toolkit. Yet according to a Microsoft study, hiring managers, on average, only devoted 8-seconds of focused attention per resume in 2010. Therefore, it is crucial that you deliver the information they want in a clear and concise format…otherwise you run the risk of having your most distinguishing accomplishments neglected.
After reviewing thousands of candidate applications, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to create a stand-out resume. First off, like any good sales pitch, we believe it is extremely important for your resume to have a cohesive, big-picture message. Specifically, it should be a concise representation of your professional journey. Your resume should be able to quickly answer the following questions:
- Am I vested in my profession?
- What kind of a difference did I make at work?
- How did I go about making those differences?
Most importantly, these questions need to be concisely answered and easy to find. Don’t turn your resume into a tell-all autobiographical epic. Hiring managers have to look at hundreds of resumes on a daily basis, so unless you want the entirety of your 8-second pitch to outline your accomplishments as student council president…it’s best to stick to only your most important, relevant experiences. If your resume is written correctly, less really is more.
Additionally, here are some other easy fixes you can use to favorably present your resume in today’s talent market.
Resume Tip #1: Be ATS Friendly
ATS (application tracking system) software serves as the backbone of HR departments and staffing agencies. An ATS parses and pulls data from resumes to provide a snapshot of all the applicants, acting as the first gatekeeper to that coveted new job. Make sure that you can pass this first test by keeping your resume easy to scan. Do this by sticking to fonts like Helvetica, Arial, and Times New Roman, along with avoiding overuse of bold and underline treatments. Although these details seem small, they’re definitely worth your time to correct. The last thing you want is for your application to fall through the cracks just because of an ATS error.
For a complete guide on resumes for ATS, check out The Easy How-To Guide to Formatting Resumes for Applicant Tracking Systems on LinkedIn.
Resume Tip #2: Branding Statement at the Top
The “Objective” statement is officially outdated. Hiring managers want to see how you position yourself, not what you’re looking for. Look at the comparison below:
Old Resume Objective:
Software QA professional seeks a position within an organization that will allow for growth and challenge.
Energized Branding Statement:
Full lifecycle software QA professional offering a unique combination of technical and analytical skill. Proven track record of working with product teams to deliver solutions on time, with budget solutions resulting in increased revenue, market share and customer retention.
Resume Tip #3: Optimizing Your Resume for Mobile Devices
More and more hiring managers are viewing your resume on their mobile device. As unfair as it may be, if your resume is incomprehensible on a smartphone there’s a good chance it will get overlooked in that scenario. Luckily, mobile optimization sounds much harder than it actually is. Here are a couple ways you can go about doing it:
Make sure all bullet points are one line long. Dates and numbers, for example, often take up much more space than they have to:
- “January 2013 – September 2015” can be changed to “1/13 – 9/15.”
- “Reduced spending by $50,000…” can be changed to, “Saved department $50K…”
Try to keep your minimum font size no smaller than 12 point.
- Hiring managers don’t want to pinch-and-zoom your application. While they’ll probably still read your resume, it’s always better to minimize their frustrations.
We also recommend that you construct your resume in a single column format, as this minimizes the potential for structural distortions along with keeping the document easy on the eyes. After you make these changes, also be sure to take the extra few minutes to test your resume on your own mobile device.
Resume Tip #4: Add Brief Profiles On Your Previous Employers
Following the header line of each job (title, company, dates of employment), include a one-sentence description of the company’s industry, solutions or services. Why? So that anyone reviewing your resume has an immediate sense of where you’ve worked. These quick clarifications better contextualize your accomplishments to the hiring manager, potentially giving you that slight edge over the rest of the competition.
Resume Tip #5: Plug Yourself, Not the Company
Applicants will sometimes make the mistake of touting company accomplishments without addressing how they personally made an impact. For example, the description “company was acquired by leading healthcare provider in 2010” reads much stronger when you frame the acquisition in the context of your contributions.
Former Google SVP Laszlo Bock champions this resume philosophy. His advice to job seekers is to abide by the general formula: “Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z].”
The key here is to provide a numerical measure of your accomplishment, followed by details outlining how that goal was achieved. Here’s how this formula looks when applied to our previous example:
Before: “company was acquired by leading healthcare provider in 2010”
After: “Led data migration strategy following 2010 acquisition which aligned IT teams across 4 locations, saving the company $200K”
As you can see, the difference in content is huge.
With a solid resume in hand, you give yourself the best chance to stand out to your next hiring manager. Just be sure to update it every six months!
Resumes Tips from TIME article >>
Resume Tips from Laszlo Bock