If you’ve been looking for resources on the internet on how to build your resume, you’ve likely found that each site or “expert” has different advice on how to present yourself to recruiters and prospective employers to increase your chances of getting selected for an interview.
Career centres, resume writers, and employee transition services have muddied the water when it comes to advice on how to build a good resume, because quite simply, they lack real world experience when it comes to recruitment.
As a senior recruiter with over 10 years experience recruiting, sourcing and interviewing for entry level roles right up to executive positions I can tell you what RECRUITERS look for in a resume. Because after all, it’s those individuals you have to impress in order to get an interview.
The key word to keep in mind when building your resume is CLARITY. You want to make the recruiter’s job as simple as humanly possible. The old adage that you have 30 seconds to impress a recruiter is simply not true. In reality you have less than 10 seconds.
In this market recruiters have to sift through hundreds of resumes for a single position, and they are likely sitting with an average of 30 positions they are actively hiring for. That means you want to present yourself in a way, that at a glance, a recruiter can determine whether you have what it takes to get an interview.
What you don’t want to do, is have the recruiter spend time determining how long you were with an employer, how long your gaps in employment were, whether you have the required education and skill sets the job posting is asking for, and making the recruiter read through thick paragraphs of dense text. They simply don’t have the time for that, and chances are you will be rejected without even the slightest consideration.
There is something to be said about tailoring your resume for each position you are applying for. Also, depending on your skills, experience, and the industry you are applying for different resume templates may be more suitable. But for most job seekers from entry level right up to more senior positions the following structure will work beautifully.
If you are part of a niche group of job seekers who need to build a specialized resume format, contact me here and I would be happy to provide you with personalized advice.
- Put your name and contact information in your resume
Sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many resumes I’ve seen that have neglected to put this vital piece of information in. Don’t leave out your address even if you are looking for a job from another location. A recruiter will narrow right into this and assume the worst. Also be sure to include an email AND telephone number as recruiters have different preferences on how to contact candidates. If you can, always link your LinkedIn profile as well. Chances are the recruiter will look you up anyway so willingly offering up the link just makes things easier for them, which as I’ve said above is the goal here. Lastly, it’s a good idea when you have a multiple page resume to add this information as a header, so that it shows up on every page if it is printed.
- Objective/Professional Summary
Your objective is your goal, your mission statement, the reason why you are applying for that particular position. Avoid adding in filler you can find on other resume and career advice sites. Be truthful and honest about what you want because trust me, recruiters have seen it all and their BS detectors are well honed.
Professional summaries are not for everyone. For the seasoned professional with 20+ years of experience this is a place to highlight all the skills and technical expertise you have to offer. Be careful here, because you should be including some of this in your cover letter (another topic I will cover separately) so you don’t want to repeat yourself ad nauseam but be sure to include the entirety of your skill set that you haven’t already mentioned.
If you’re early in your career this may not be for you. Stating that you are “adaptable to change” and “work well in teams” will get you nowhere. You want to use this section to highlight what you have to offer that other candidates may not have.
Many candidates put this at the bottom of their resume, which always puzzles me. You’ve worked hard for this, so why not have it front and centre? Also, you want this right at the top so the recruiter can immediately see if you have the educational background and certifications they are looking for. Often times recruiters don’t even make it to the bottom of your resume if they don’t see what they’re looking for. So make sure you put this where they will see it.
- Professional Experience
Make this section clear and easy on eyes. Don’t write thick paragraphs of text because it will likely put recruiters off. Point format is great, but if you choose paragraphs to describe your experience, make them short, to the point, with as much RELEVANT information as possible. Also start each sentence with an action word such as “managed”, “organized”, and “facilitated”.
Ensure you write the full company name (no abbreviations please) and include dates, and by that I mean month and year so that the recruiter can easily calculate how long you were at that particular company. Just stating years can sometimes make recruiters wary about how long you were actually employed at that particular company. Also include the geographic location because if you have international work experience, that only works to your advantage
These usually are the main categories recruiters will focus on. A resume should ideally be no longer than 2 pages so if you’re close to the end, please put “References available upon request” and call it a day. Do not include your references here under any circumstance. Some companies will take this as permission to contact your references before you’ve even started the interview process. Also if one of your references is a current manager, and you have yet to disclose you are looking for a new opportunity, things could get awkward at your present job.
If you have room to spare you can add the following categories, but note that these categories will not always strongly impact a recruiter who is deciding on a candidate shortlist for interviews. I’ve never selected anyone because they enjoy yoga and traveling (even if I do quite enjoy them myself!)
Awards and Recognition
As I’ve mentioned previously, this format will work well for a large majority of job seekers. There are always exceptions depending on your background and what you have to offer. If you would like personalized assistance on how best to build your resume I would be happy to help. Just drop me a line using my contact form