Marie Raperto, The Hiring Hub
In today’s world, you should always have a resume ready even if you are not currently looking for a position. Keeping your resume current allows you to see what you have accomplished each year and it can help prepare you for your annual review and, if something does come up, you don’t have to start from scratch. With applicant tracking systems, social media sites and a hiring manager’s time, resumes have changed more in the last five years than the ten prior ones. Customization, easy-to-read keyword specific resumes that can be read on varied screen sizes are essential. You must remember that a recruiter scans a resume for approximately 6.25 seconds. Eighty percent of those six seconds is spent looking at your name, current title and company, previous title and company, start and end dates for current and past positions and education. The remaining time is spent looking for keywords that match the open position.
Your resume must have:
1. Just the pertinent information.
2. It should be tailored to a particular position.
3. Be strategic with the content you include.
4. Proof, proof and proof.
5. Make sure it can be read easily.
6. Include any metrics that you can.
7. Take out any old, outdated material.
8. Add specific keywords.
9. Make sure your contact information is correct and that phone numbers are labelled home, mobile etc. If you include your LinkedIn URL or online portfolio, check to insure the links work.
10. Name your file with your name and date.
Your first step is to pick the format best for you. There are basically four resume styles:
1) Chronological: The body of this type of resume includes a listing of your work history, beginning with your most recent job.
- The length of time on each job can be seen as a strength.
- Your work experience is in line with your job objective.
- Job titles or employers are impressive.
- You want to highlight career advances.
- THIS IS THE MOST COMMON RESUME FORMAT
2) Functional: The body of this type of resume highlights your major skill areas.
- You want to change fields.
- You have the skills but not the work experience.
- You have acquired skills through unpaid experience.
- You have had many different work experiences not directly related to the position you are seeking. (Note: Functional Resumes are not as common as they once were and many hiring managers believe that using a functional resume means you are hiding something. If you choose this format, be very careful to include all pertinent information and dates.)
3) Combination: The body of this type of resume utilizes parts of both the functional and chronological resumes.
- You have acquired a number of skills while progressing on one or several jobs and you want to highlight specific ones.
4) Targeted: A targeted resume focuses on specific abilities and duties that directly relate to a specific job.
- This type of resume is prepared specifically for one position and should show your qualifications against the job’s specified qualifications.
The Targeted resume is the most favored right now. With Applicant Tracking Systems in use, targeting your resume for each and every ad you answer is essential.
A resume should be your personal marketing piece. It should tell enough about you so someone will want to meet you but not enough about you so that you can be eliminated from a search. Everyone has preferences as to resume format. Make sure that you are comfortable with the one you are using and that it clearly shows all the information.
Don’t try to use a template. Customize your resume so that your experience shows. It should be very easy to read and not text-heavy.
The typeface you choose for your resume is very important. Your resume needs to be as clear and concise as possible. It also must be read on many types of devises from desktops to mobile phones. Sans-serif typefaces are best for small screens and the easiest to read on all screens. Make sure your resume is readable as research shows that hiring managers and recruiters only scan resumes for 6-8 seconds. Typing in sans-serif fonts on your computer will give you a complete list, but here are some of the most common:
- Arial Narrow
- Book Antiqua
- Trebuchet MS
- Times New Roman
Remember, it’s not your autobiography. Your resume is your chance to call attention to you and what you’ve done as it pertains to the open job description. You must be careful to be specific, concise and to the point. You want the hiring manager to want to learn more about you. It is not a list of your current and past job descriptions. It is a list of the things you have done that will get you to the position you want. Using the right key words will increase your chances of making the first round.
The most relevant information should be started at the top of every section to get the reader’s attention.
Bullets can set your resume apart and make it easier for a reader to scan.
Remember, headers/footers, graphs, color etc., may not be read on every computer and that resumes with these items may not get through an applicant tracking system (ATS).
Some Job Facts: You should be getting 5 or 6 first interviews for every 100 targeted resumes you send out. (Targeted resumes are written with the job description/ad in mind.) If you are not, you might be sending out resumes to every ad you see, whether the job fits or not. Also, have someone review your resume to make sure it’s clear as to what you are looking for and that it doesn’t contain a typo.
You should be getting one second interview for every 8 first interviews. If not, ask yourself whether you need to polish your interviewing skills. Are you coming across as desperate or unsure?
Have you ever been a finalist for more than 8 or 9 positions and not landed a job? If so, try to review what happened. If the companies hired from within, there isn’t anything you could have done. If the company decided not to hire anyone, there isn’t anything you could have done. But to get this far this many times and not have closed the deal suggests that something is wrong. For starters, you might want to review your references. Are you giving them enough information so that they can be helpful? Consider adding new ones to the list. Sometimes, the personality of the reference makes a big difference, too!
What Goes on Your Resume and What Doesn’t
To start the year off, do a basic review of what and what does not go on a resume. It may sound elementary but many resumes don’t follow the rules. If you have been in the workforce and not looking for your first job, here’s what should and should not go on your resume.
What to Put on Your Resume
- Your name, address, telephone numbers and email address. Identify your phone numbers if you are putting more than one (cell, business, home, message etc.) If you are looking for a job out of town and want to be relocated, put your full address on the top, as usual. If you are looking for a position where you have a residence or a place to stay lined up, leave off your address or use the address at the location. Also, remember to check the email and voice mail you list regularly.
- In your description, put the company/agency name with a short explanation of the nature of the organization. Hiring managers might not be familiar with your employer or you may be working in a specific product unit of a large conglomerate.
- If you are working for an agency, list your clients or expertise within a specific industry.
- Under education, list the school, degree and dates. You might not want to put your graduation dates fearing ageism will come into play. However, not having any dates makes your resume “suspicious” and can make you look even older than you are.
- If you are fluent in languages (s) or have knowledge of specific or technical computer programs, do list them.
- Current Board/Committee memberships can show your interest in your field or in philanthropic areas. These should go on your resume.
What Not to Put on Your Resume
- Don’t list any personal information such as birthdays, marital status etc. While this is common practice outside of the U.S., it is not legal here.
- Keep the names of your references on a separate sheet and give them out when asked. First, you don’t want to give out personal information or put it out online and, secondly, remember that you always want to speak with your references to tell them who will be calling and the nature of the job before they get the call.
- Salary information does not belong on the resume. If a job ad is asking for salary history, it should go in your cover letter.
- Don’t include any activities that are not relevant. Long lists of past Boards/Committees or sports that do not pertain to your job search should not be included.
- Do not include the phrase, “References available on request.” The fact that an applicant has references is taken for granted.
One of the most difficult parts of the resume seems to be the Objective or Summary. Here are some tips to help you decide which one to use and what to include.
Use an Objective if you are looking for a specific opportunity or an opportunity within a specific discipline.
- A senior-level communications position within a global consumer company.
- Social and digital media specialist position within a healthcare agency.
- Interested in furthering my career with an agency that focuses on international direct marketing.
Summary paragraphs are better for experienced, multi-disciplined professionals.
- Extensive management experience in integrated marketing, including work with a global consumer products company and a major financial services company.
- Over 10 years of experience in public relations with a special emphasis directing media relations, social media, crisis and issues management and financial communications.
- Fifteen years experience in communications. Specialties include investor relations, public policy issues and crisis communications.
When writing your Objective/Summary Statement, remember:
- It’s ok not to have one.
- If using an Objective, it should be as specific as possible.
- The objective of a resume is to find employment so don’t put this in your statement.
Summary statements should be brief and to-the-point. Ideally 2 to 3 sentences. Statements should contain the information you want the reader to see and cover the disciplines/keywords you want to highlight.
- Eliminate the pronouns. Resumes should not contain I, he/she. They are written as if you are the subject.
- Keep it short.
- Eliminate buzz words.
- Sell yourself. Tailor your summary to the position.
- Don’t include non-sequitur information.
- Do not list specifics.
- Use bullets when possible to make it easier to scan.
- Avoid jargon.
- Don’t exaggerate.
- Do not include personal information.
- If you feel your resume is too long, eliminate from the bottom. You don’t really need to explain your first jobs. So just list the title, company and dates.
- If you decide to use an Objective or Summary statement, it will set the tone for what you highlight in the Experience Section of your resume. Think it through and be comfortable with it. You are selling yourself to someone who doesn’t know you. What do you want to highlight?
Words Not To Use On Your Resume
Unnecessary words, words that don’t add anything, describe anything or showcase your writing ability should be eliminated from your resume. Buzz words are no longer accepted in communication resumes. If you see any of the words below in your resume, delete them. Ask yourself why they are in your resume and can you support their use. You want to clear and concise. Meaningful words only.
- Extensive experience
- Team player
- Problem solver
- Interface with
- Aptitude for
- Works well with
- Good communication skills
- Measureable results
- Good work ethic
- Bottom-line oriented
Words To Add To Your Resume
Applicant Tracking Systems
Today, most resumes go through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). When you answer an online ad or submit your resume online, resumes go through an ATS. All applicant tracking systems work basically the same. They use a ‘parser’ to read the information in your resume.
The parser will read the information it has been given by the company. In most cases, this information consists of keywords pulled from the job description used. Unfortunately you don’t know the keywords or the parameters entered into the system. What this means is your resume submission must use the exact terminology in the ad or description or you risk the parser not forwarding your resume.
Yes, you read that correctly. Just because you submitted your resume and received notification that it was accepted, it doesn’t mean it will reach the hiring manager or HR. Unfortunately, unqualified candidates answer job ads so the applicant tracking system helps to sort out qualified resumes.
It is important that you customize your resume to each job description. Your resume is scored for relevancy. Relevancy is based on the correlating matches between your resume and the job description’s keywords.
You must also read the disclaimers/information on the web site. You need to know how long a company keeps your resume, can you update it and can you apply for different positions or does one resume submission cover other jobs as they become available. This is important because one general resume for a media relations position may not fit the qualifications for a corporate communications position etc. Some companies post a new position and look at the resumes they receive for that position. They don’t go through the database to search for other candidates. You need to know how long it will be on file so you know when to resubmit it.
If you have submitted a resume online, a recruiter cannot resubmit it.
When submitting your resume online “think keywords.” Computer software programs make matches by keywords. Read the ad, job description and any other materials so you can use the company’s words as your keywords. If you are an experienced professional, you probably need 20+ keywords in your resume. Always remember to position yourself. If you are going to post your resume online, find the right sites. If you are a senior-level professional, look for sites that only handle your level or area of expertise.
Customizing Your Resume
Tailoring your resume so you get the interview is what you want to do. You can’t please everyone with one resume. Each hiring manager/recruiter could be looking for something different. That’s why it is so important to customize your resume for each job. It might sound tedious and time-consuming but with a few tips you can get it done easily.
When answering an ad or reviewing a job description:
Hunt for the keywords. Watch for keywords like external relations, digital marketing etc. and also note how many times they were mentioned. The more an ad or description mentions a specific keyword, the more important it is and you should make sure to add it more than once.
Look for job skills. While keywords are usually the disciplines, the job skills will further define responsibilities such as managing, supervising, writing/editing.
Pick the most important keywords and see if you can add an accomplishment to it.
Lastly: Sending Your Resume
Knowing how to name your resume is extremely important. It’s a digital world when it comes to job hunting. It doesn’t matter if you are answering an ad online, emailing HR or a recruiter. Sending your resume with a generic name can cause it to be overlooked or lost in the system. Be professional and make sure you name it properly. You want hiring managers to know it’s your resume and make it easier to track through their email system.
Use either a PDF or Microsoft Word Format
Personalize your file by adding your name – MarieRapertoResume.
Remember to be consistent and use the same style for the resume name, cover letter or sample documents.
You can capitalize words, use spaces or dashes.
Don’t use a version number. You don’t want to give the impression that you keep changing your resume. You can use your computer to keep track of different versions.
Test all the links included in your resume.