A dreaded task people face when job seeking is putting together their resume.
Some people just cut and paste their job descriptions into a document. Others list all their duties, their impact and make sure it is laid out meticulously. Still others write a (slightly fictional) masterpiece that embellishes all of their best traits.
No matter where you fall on that spectrum — the function most often overlooked is how a resume is used in the screening process. Here are some insider tips from someone who has managed hundreds of recruiters and advised on thousands of hires for a wide range of professional positions.
Hiring managers and recruiters look first to see if you are currently doing the role for which you are applying. It may not be fair (and it may not even be the best way to make an ideal long-term match), but that is reality. The overwhelming majority of managers try to hire someone who is already in a similar position, likes the role, is performing well, but has a strategic reason to move to another company. Candidates in a role right under the target role on the promotion ladder are a good second choice. No matter how well-written, a resume will not get you an interview if you are not a close match to the position requirements.
Functional resumes are a red flag. Remember that current, relevant experience is king. This means most recruiters will look to see what you are doing now — which is best handled by a reverse chronological resume. Start with your current role and work backward. A functional resume, which focuses on relevant skills you have, is often used when there have been breaks in employment or those skills are not being currently (or recently) used. When presented a functional resume, a recruiter or manager often assumes the skills they are requiring are not part of your current role (or else you would have used a standard resume). The format raises a red flag.
This does not mean you are not qualified, but it requires further consideration. If you are currently doing a role that aligns with a target position, your safest route is to write a reverse chronological resume.
Experience has a shelf life. Thanks to technology, the world of work has never progressed at such a rapid pace. Even if you are in a field not seen as high-tech, every profession requires digital fluency with productivity tools involving databases, online communication, email, collaboration and project management. Hiring managers target candidates who have used desired skills and tools in the past five to seven years.
If your skills aren’t current, seek out online courses or other opportunities to keep up to date. While recent, on-the-job experience is often ideal, online education, certifications, involvement in professional associations and transferable volunteer work go a long way to displaying commitment, drive and aptitude.
The job of a resume is to get you an interview, not hired. Recruiters scan through resumes and make judgments in a matter of seconds as to who will be contacted for an initial screening. In addition to those candidates lacking relevant experience, resumes with typos, poor grammar or writing, lack of details and unprofessional layout get weeded out quickly.
While you cannot change your experience, you do have control over the content and the format of your resume. Customization and editing are key. Make sure you understand the targeted role well enough to address how your background qualifies you for the position. Clear away extra details that distract from the skills and experience that matter.
Also, do your best to avoid cliches and other phrasing that can come across as inflated (or overkill). Recruiters and managers vet hundreds of candidates, and are often jaded. Using phrases like, “transformational sales manager” and “passionate customer service associate” are likely to get a dubious groan — not a resounding, “Let’s bring him in immediately!” You may, indeed, be those things. But the recruiter is after quantifiable results in tenured roles with well-respected companies. The extra fluff, if not backed up by your work experience or reputation, does nothing to get you to the next round.
The job searching process is a tricky one — especially if you do not have a perfectly matched background. It is important to make sure your resume is well-written, flawless and customized to the audience. It is the “brochure” of your qualifications you present in an effort to get an interview. Like all good marketing pieces, it also requires a more comprehensive strategy to make sure it gets read by the right people. Actively networking, looking for internal company referrals, building a positive reputation for your work and leveraging LinkedIn and other social channels are a must for modern job seeking. You need a resume that is the best possible representation of you as well as a comprehensive, proactive search strategy to get the best results.
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4 Things Recruiters Wished You Knew About Your Resume originally appeared on usnews.com