According to TheLadders, recruiters spend only 6 seconds reviewing a resume before deciding if an applicant is a potential match for the job. That's probably less time than it will take you to read this paragraph. Such a short review is why it's crucial that your resume be easy to read. You may be the perfect candidate for the role , but if a recruiter can't see that in under 6 seconds, you're out of luck. The following tips will help you make your resume a clear winner.
Make sure it is tailored to the job you want or are applying for
This is true for any type of resume. Don't simply create a resume that is a history of your work experience. Tailor it to the job you want or the job you are applying for. Review relevant job postings for wording and incorporate the appropriate verbiage and phrases into your resume.
(Read The Anatomy of an IT Job Search)
This point is especially important for technical resumes. Most employers use some type of keyword matching technology to assist recruiters in finding potential matches for open positions. With this in mind, be sure to include the names and acronyms of all relevant technologies as well as common words and phrases associate with the position you are applying for.
If you are simply uploading your resume to a job board database, you can still accomplish this trick by going to your favorite job site, searching for relevant jobs, and using the job posting verbiage in your resume (you can also add the wording to your LinkedIn profile).
A skills section is a must
Be sure to include a prominent "skills" section that includes all of the programs, platforms, coding tools, and databases you are comfortable with. This section should match as closely as possible with the requirements of the job you are applying for.
A skills section might look something like this:
Expert: C/C++, ASP.NET, CSS, HTML, SQL, Visual Studio, SOAP
Intermediate: Java, Python, Hibernate, Eclipse, Hudson
Learning: Ruby on Rails
Only list relevant certifications
We know. You worked really hard to earn all of those certifications and you want to list them on your resume. But the fact is, recruiters don't care about certifications that don't apply to the job at hand. So absolutely do list your relevant certifications but leave off the ones that don't apply to the job listing.
Spell check, especially technologies
Doing a spell check on your resume may seem obvious. But it’s so important that it needs to be mentioned again and again. And don't rely solely on Word or other tools to check your spelling and grammar. Use your own eyes and the eyes of others to make sure everything is perfect.
Use a Summary not an Objective
An Objective tells the employer what you are looking for in a job or career. A Summary gives the employer a snapshot of who you are as a professional and what you can bring to the table. Which do you think an employer wants to see at the top of your resume?
Create a Summary section that is just a few sentences long to entice the recruiter/employer to read more. Or even better, use bullet points to make it easier to read. Make it short and sweet with all of the details further down in your resume. Here is a good format to use.
- The job you’re seeking
- Your experience level
- Relevant qualifications
Keep it relevant
Technology changes quickly and it's unlikely that your experience from 15 years ago will apply to any current position. As a result, keep your resume short and targeted to the position. It's okay to list older positions to show continuity of employment, just don't list too many details under these past positions.
Simple formatting is always best. Think of it this way; the purpose of resume formatting is to make the content of your resume as easy to read and digest as possible. It is NOT to make your resume look pretty or cool. Job seekers never get interviews based on the formatting of their resumes, but they surely have missed out on interviews because of it.
As mentioned before, your resume does not need to look “pretty”. So no fancy formatting or graphics. Not only do they distract from the awesome contents in your resume, but they can affect keyword searches that will be done by recruiters and may adversely affect the resume parsing software that will be used to parse and upload your resumes contents into the company database.
Most resume parsing and search technologies use your zip code as the main search criteria for location. Don’t forget to include it and be sure to specify in a note or cover letter if you are looking for work in a different location.
Don’t be intimidated by the resume formatting process. There are many templates and services out there that can help make the process simple and straightforward. And spending a little bit of time making sure the format of your resume properly highlights your experience and accomplishments can go a long ways when a recruiter or hiring manager only has 6 seconds to look it over.