Ever wonder what happens to your resume after it is submitted? Does it ever feel like you are submitting tons of resumes and not getting any responses?
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) filter which resumes a recruiter views by searching your resume for keywords to determine how relevant your resume is to a job. However, recruiters are still viewing piles of resumes and this is making it increasingly hard for your resume to get the attention it deserves. Furthermore, studies have shown that recruiters only spend 5-7 seconds looking at a resume. What does that mean for you? It means, your resume needs to be optimized for an ATS and be visually designed so that important skills and experience can be found quickly.
Using eye tracking software, the job search website TheLadders found that recruiters immediately search for, “…name, current title, company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education”. Your resume should be designed to easily find these items. Their research found that resumes that are designed in a clear hierarchy, received longer viewer times from recruiters. The image below shows how recruiters viewed two different resumes. The image on the right was viewed for a longer period of time because of its “clear and concise formatting”.
Image Credit: Business Insider
The Purpose of a Resume: To SELL Yourself!
There aren’t many people who get excited about writing a resume. Resume writing is an essential tool to getting your next job, but it is largely a dreaded activity. This dread causes many people to just go through the motions. They will do the resume basics such as: include a professional profile, add job experience, job responsibilities and so on. A person can create a good resume by simply filling in the blanks, but we want to create GREAT resumes.
What distinguishes the good from the great is behind the scenes. The secret of creating great resume lies in the understanding the purpose of a resume. The purpose of a resume is to sell yourself to employers, to show off all of your achievements. To achieve this, your resume must demonstrate:
- Why you are special or different.
- Why an employer should hire you over anybody else.
- What you have accomplished and what were the outcomes.
With all of this in mind, here are our 5 Resume Tips to Get Your Resume Past the 5-7 Second Scan.
Resume Tip #1: Get the Length Right
The length of your resume can vary largely with your experience. The “mandatory” one page resume is not a “mandatory” as it is a strong suggestion. The main point is to not overdo it. As we mentioned earlier, studies have shown that recruiters often only scan resumes for 5 – 7 seconds. Do you really think they will be able to find the information they are looking for in your 10 page resume in that time? Probably not.
The length of your resume should be just short enough to clearly demonstrate your skills and achievements. Remember the goal of a resume is to sell yourself. That being said, only post work experience that directly relates to the job and matters to the recruiter. If you decide to keep your resume on the longer side, make sure to include all of the most important and relevant information on that first page!
Resume Tip #2: Format and Design your Resume for Success.
On a more macro level, we suggest the following:
- Do not use a font size smaller than 11.
- Use one inch borders.
- Do not add any pictures or graphics.
- Use space effectively to increase readability.
- Use headers to make your resume easy to navigate
- Use bullets to list your selling points.
If a file format is not specified, we recommend saving your resume as a .doc file. This allows two things. 1) It makes it easier for ATS to do a keyword search and 2) It gives recruiters the opportunity to make the edits that can make a big difference when submitting to employers. Our recruiters understand the needs and culture of our clients and saving as .doc allows us to make the changes that will align your resume more closely to the employer’s needs.
Resume Tip #3: Focus on Job Achievements in the Job Responsibilities Section.
Many job candidates simply list their job responsibilities under each job.
At Pinpoint, we recommend taking it a step further and focusing on job achievements! Under each job title that is listed, there should be a list of exactly how you helped the company and what the quantifiable results were. It should read as:
Actions Taken + Quantifiable Results
- Managed team of four coworkers on nine separate projects, ensuring projects were completed on time and within budget.
- Implemented new canceled-check imaging system, which eliminated necessity for physical documentation and reduced wasted time by 25%.
Examples gathered from Dice.
Formatting your bullets as actions and results SHOWS what you achieved, instead of your resume just TELLING people what you did. Remember, you are selling yourself to employers. Do they want to buy from somebody who tells them what they did or shows them what they achieved?
Resume Tip #4: Highlight your Soft Skills!
Companies are increasingly focusing on soft skills. Communication skills, being one of the highest requested soft skill. You can have all of the technical expertise and experience required, but if you can’t communicate effectively that can mean not getting past the first interview. Other soft skills that employers ask for include:
- Ability to work effectively in teams.
- Ability to work with minimal supervision, ie. A self-starter.
- Ability to be a role player or leader as necessary.
Try to include these soft skills in your “Profile” section and demonstrate them in your “Job Responsibilities” section.
Resume Tip #5: Optimize Keywords and Demonstrate How YOU Utilized Technical Skills.
At the start of this article we discussed the importance of keywords in getting your resume seen by actual human eyes. There are two ways to make sure your keywords are included in your resume:
- Have a “Technical Skills” section in your Resume.
- Organize your skills into categories to improve visibility to make it easier for recruiters to identify if you qualify for a position. In this section, feel free to just list your skills.
- Include your Technical Skills in your Job Responsibilities Section.
- Demonstrate how you used a skill to improve performance and achieve business objectives.
- Increases the chances of your skills being seen if they don’t scan your resume to the “Technical Skills” section
Listing a keyword or skill more than once increases the relevancy of your resume to a job if that is the skill they are looking for. Don’t add skills to sections just to increase your chances with an ATS. Remember, the main goal of a resume is to sell yourself to employers. With this in mind, only add skills when it makes sense!