A resume is your tool for selling yourself. With your resume you are marketing yourself to a potential employer. Only 10% of resumes are actually read in full by the hiring manager. The other 90% do not make it past the company recruiter or have so little initial impact they are briefly scanned, then tossed.
Here are 10 tips to make sure your resume is read by the hiring manager.
- The first goal is getting your resume past the company recruiter. As a hiring manager I depend on the recruiter to weed out any resume that does not fit my job opening. This is why it is important that you first research the job you are applying for. This will guide you in how to craft your introduction and what relevant skills or accomplishments you should include.
- The first part of your resume is your introduction. This is where you explain what your objectives are. You have 10 seconds to convince the person reading your resume that it is worth reading. This makes this section the most important part of your resume. If it is not well crafted they will never read the rest of it. Keep it short and simple, but with enough impact to keep them reading. Use power words such as motivated and driven. I want to interview “A highly motivated professional who is driven to excel”, not a person “Seeking new challenges”.
- Now you need to list your job history including any relevant accomplishments or major projects you have worked on. Start in reverse chronological order listing your most recent jobs. Summarize accomplishments and projects by highlighting only the parts that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Your job history should be complete. List your dates of employment.WARNING: One of the first things I look for in a job history is gaps. This is an indication that you have something to hide. This is a red flag for the recruiter and the hiring manager. If you have gaps add a small note with an explanation.
- The next section should include your education information. List any degrees you have completed or are working on. List any certifications you have that are relevant to the job you are applying for. List the colleges or trade schools you attended. Include your majors and minors, date of completion, and any honors received. You should only list your GPA if it is high.
- There is debate on where to list your skills. Some people think you should highlight your skills in your introduction. I think this makes your introduction too long. I like to see skills at the end of the resume. This is where you once again have the opportunity to sell yourself. Summarize with 1-2 sentences and your best skills that are relevant to the job you are apply for. Three or four well crafted skills listed will say more than paragraphs of details the reader must wade through.
- PROOFREAD! You spent hours of research and preparation on your resume. You are sure it is a winner. Since you wrote the resume you know everything it says and may have developed tunnel vision. It is a good idea to have others read your resume. They may spot areas you did not notice or offer suggestions you did not think of.
- Once you have completed the final draft of your resume use your spelling checker. Nothing says unprofessional more than misspelled words left in a resume. Your resume is also your first impression so make it a good one.
- Make sure your resume includes all of your contact information. Believe it or not I have read resumes with no phone number listed. Include your name, address, phone number and email address at a minimum. If you have a resume web site include that. Do not list your email@example.com gaming address. If you need to create an email account specifically for including in your resumes. Along the same line do not leave a phone number with a voice mail message your friends may think is funny, but your potential employer may not.
- Do a reality check. Have you listed any skills or accomplishments that are overstated? While you may think such embellishment will improve your chances of landing an interview, it may end up sinking you. During the interview a good hiring manager or recruiter will ask a lot of questions relevant to what you put in your resume. Your credibility will immediately be lost should you not be able to properly answer these questions.
- How many pages? This is often debated with most leaning towards limiting your resume to one page. The exception is when you have more jobs, skills and education experience that is relevant to the job than can fit into one page. In particular this applies to older workers who have built up significant job, skill and education points. Do not use a small font just to fit it all on one page. Be kind to your reader and use a 10-12 point font.
To summarize craft your resume to the job and the company you are applying to. Remember the goal of your resume is to get an interview. Do not underestimate the impact you can create in those first 10 seconds of the resume. A high impact introduction is the key to getting the rest of your resume read. While you do not want to create an arrogant impression, you should show your motivation, drive and professionalism.