Though you spend hours fine-tuning your resume, research shows that recruiters will typically spend only 6 seconds reading it.
As executive recruiters, we see thousands of resumes—and more often than not, the resumes in our hands are incomplete or difficult to follow. These are discarded after only a few seconds.
How do you keep your resume from being forgotten by recruiters or employers? Here are the 6 things we look for.
1. COMPLETE CONTACT INFORMATION
We constantly receive resumes that have incorrect or incomplete email addresses and phone numbers. It may seem like a small oversight after you’ve drafted a full recap of relevant work history, but a future employer won’t spend time trying to track you down. Make it easy for someone to get in touch with you.
Create a personal email address using a free email provider, as opposed to using a work email address. And, if you opt not to share your full mailing address, you should at least list your city and state of residence.
2. WORK HISTORY IN REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
Trends have emerged in resume setup and styling, such as displaying skills and expertise by subject matter, that buck traditional formatting. That’s okay depending on the industry, but recruiters and employers still want to clearly see your job history.
A good rule of thumb is to present your career progression dating back 10 years or as far as the “years of experience required” calls for in the job description. If you have significant or related experience dating back more than 10 years, include it in a brief synopsis.
3. NECESSARY INFORMATION ON EDUCATION AND CREDENTIALS
Include your school’s name, city, state, and the degree or certification you attained. The years you graduated are optional, as is additional information such as college activities or G.P.A.
Remember, include only the information that’s pertinent to the job. This might mean you customize your resume for each position to which you apply.
4. APPROPRIATE LENGTH AND STYLE
Experienced applicants should limit their resume to two pages, while candidates newer to the workforce can likely fit the necessary information on one page. In our experience, a resume laid out in a bullet point format is the easiest to scan quickly. The longer it takes to decipher a resume, the greater the chance that it will get discarded.
Create a more detailed document to contain additional information and context in case a recruiter or interviewer asks for it.
5. STRATEGIC CONTENT
Think carefully about the information you include in your resume, especially in any sections that cover your skills or related experience. Focus on the achievements and strengths you’re most proud of rather than day-to-day tasks.
Use action verbs like “managed,” “improved,” “created,” and “launched” to add emphasis to your experience.
All content should be proofread carefully and have perfect grammar and spelling.
6. ATTENTION TO THE JOB DESCRIPTION
If the job you’re applying for has specific requirements and your experience simply doesn’t meet them, your resume will reflect that and show that you didn’t pay attention to the job description.
On a related note, if you have specific areas of expertise that would fit perfectly with the job you’re applying for, highlight them using bolded font or by calling them out separately.