Are you applying for jobs and not hearing back? If yes, there’s a good possibility that the problem lies in your resume. When you consider that 95% of resumes never get past the first hurdle — the recruiter’s screening process — it’s not hard to understand why.
With hundreds of resumes hitting the recruiter’s desk daily for a given position, only 5% make it to the interview stage, while the rest are tossed aside and never looked at again. Plus, on an average, a resume gets only an average of 6 seconds to make an impact because that’s how long recruiters spend on a resume to decide if the candidate is worth calling in for an interview. The good news is, with a little effort in the right direction, it’s possible to create a resume that can ace the 6-seconds test. In this post, I’ll discuss three tips that will help you do that.
- Keep Your Resume Updated. Always.
When was the last time you updated your resume? If you’ve been working for the same employer for many years now, it’s likely your resume has been collecting dust. You’re not alone — most people don’t think about updating their resumes until they find themselves out of work or are actively looking for another job. Unfortunately, this is a big mistake. Why? Because knowing the reality of today’s job market, it is worth to be prepared for changes. What if you’re not happy with your job anymore or an unexpected lay-off falls in your lap or a better and more lucrative opportunity knocks your door?
Especially when it comes to tech jobs, changes happen fast and there are plenty of opportunities you’d want to explore. Having to make last-minute changes to your resume is not just stressful but you may even miss out important details.
This is why you should think of your resume as a ‘living’ document that reflects your evolving skills and responsibilities. Keeping your resume up-to-date is a smart long-term career management strategy that keeps you ready for disaster or new opportunities.
- Make it Short and Simple (Yet Effective).
As I mentioned, your resume has a very small window to ‘wow’ the recruiters. Therefore, your aim should be to make it easier for them to find the information they are looking for at a glance. And while it’s okay to get creative with the resume format in arts-related professions, in general it’s better not to shake up the standard format too much. Making it time-consuming for recruiters is a surefire way to get your resume ignored.
Turning your resume into a 15-page document is something you should avoid as a plague. For people in tech, 3-5 pages is long enough. Similarly, crowding the space with too much text or using big blocks of text is another no-no. These things make it harder for the recruiter to scan your resume. In terms of what info you should include and what you shouldn’t, it’s helpful to remember a thumb rule — if an information isn’t 100% necessary, leave it out. You only have a limited resume real estate, save it for info that’s most compelling. A solid format should have the following info:
- Your Name, Contact Information and Links to your LinkedIn Profile, GitHub, and personal web pages are fine. A quick career summary (4-5 Sentences max)
- Your work experience
Steer clear of jargons and words that are beaten to death by those thousands of other resumes. Instead, make intelligent use of strong ‘action’ words that will not only create the right impact but also make your resume stand out.
Most of the best resumes I’ve come across have one thing in common — they make the best stuff pop. In other words, you should be able to identify what’s most important in getting you hired for each specific position and then, emphasize those things by making them the first bullet points or sentences in your work experience.
- Use the Job Description To Outline Your Resume.
Most job seekers make the same mistake — using the same resume for every job opportunity. Unfortunately, there’s a slim chance that this type of one-size-fits-all approach will land you an interview, let alone your coveted job. Employers want the best-fit candidate for their job and only resumes that match the job description have the legs to compete in that race. This is why, a great way to craft a standout resume is to tailor it to match the job description.
Usually, job descriptions have two main sections. The first section describes the company and the responsibilities a candidate might take on. The second section lists the ideal requirements they must have to be considered for the job. The first step is to find out how many of those requirements do you meet. Let’s say a company has listed 5 requirements. It is worth applying for if you have at least 3 of them. Any less and it’s probably not the best fit.
There are usually words within the description that give clues as to what the hiring manager wants for a particular position. The next step is to identify these ‘keywords.’ Smart use of these keywords throughout your resume increases your chances of getting paired with the right job by a recruiter. Unless you’re applying directly to a large organization through their website your resume most likely will not sit in an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). A recruiter is reading your resume and passing on it.
Let me explain with a couple examples of both good and bad summary statements. Here’s a job description I took from LinkedIn (click to enlarge):
Since I get these a lot, I can tell you that a run-of-the-mill resume summary would perhaps read something this (click to enlarge):
This summary tells me virtually nothing I want to know about the candidate or why I should hire them and not the next person in the queue.
This example combines the job requirements and desired qualifications with the candidate’s work experience to provide specific context around what exactly the person does, their experience level, and their core strengths. It’s easy to see that the resume ticks off many boxes right off the bat. I’d certainly be interested to scan further. (Click to enlarge).
With these three tips in mind, you can create a killer resume that generates enough interest to land you an interview.