If you type ‘resume’ into Google you will receive approximately 180,000,000 hits. If you then type “IT Professional”, it nets only approximately 5,500,000 hits. Thus the documentation of work experience is 33 and 1/3 more popular than one of the most sought after group of professionals. What does this really tell us? Actually, not much, but neither does the average résumé that comes across our desks. Here are some excerpts:
Here are some excerpts of ambiguous resume items:
- “Administered coordination of issues and implementation of ideas surfaced by individuals.”
- “Partaking in meetings designed to enhance collaboration, identify and develop strategies to ensure success regarding the accomplishment of goals.”
- “Experienced IT leader with superior interpersonal skills and business acumen, talented at building interpersonal relationships across a global organization.”
Huh? – Are you serious?
If you haven’t heard of it yet, the first hurdle you have to take, in order to get noticed with your resume, is ATS and the second hurdle is a Hiring Professional. We all know that there are more jobs being lost than created, and that an opening will get dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants. But in your fear to avoid saying anything that might get your résumé tossed out of the pile, and you might end up saying nothing at all if you say weird stuff like the samples mentioned above, you are better off if you KEEP IT SIMPLE.
The result of bizarre sentences is, the hiring professionals feel like they’re reading tea leaves, not resumes and cover letters. The other common result from hiring managers is, that they feel forced to come up with arbitrary rules to narrow the field. Nobody with an objective statement, no résumés longer than 3 pages, no serif fonts.
Our job search coaches at TJSC are not immune. Personally, I look at a lot of elements including the formatting to ensure that the documents have flow and make sense. Many people don’t know this, and they don’t notice that their layout is hard to read. Does this mean they are more or less qualified to be a project planner? I don’t know, but it’s easy for me to say, “If you don’t know that your own résumé is inconsistent, how can you be expected to supervise a multi-million dollar project?”
Other people have their own “minor resume offences”. The best you can do is try to achieve the maximum content with a minimum of strange or unusual features. I have 10 tips to make your résumé stand a better chance of survival:
# 1 Keep it simple.
Nobody buys a complicated story. Keep your resume simple by reducing it to the max and focusing on what matters while using Powerwords.
# 2 Get the formatting right.
Line up bullet points, dates, headings. Wacky spacing will get you questioned about skills that have nothing to do with what you can do on the job. And please learn to put dates flush against the right margin.
# 3 Insert dates for everything.
If you’ve got a gap, explain it in your cover letter. But don’t leave the dates off a job or a degree. Maybe you’re worried they’ll think you’re too old or too young — but at best you’ll look sloppy. At worst, sneaky.
# 4 Fill up on the Powerwords.
Yes, buzzwords are typically “bad” for clarity, but you have to get past the HR department first, and they’re screening for matches with the words in the job description. Words such as ‘consumer goods industry’, certified project manager, SPL, BMN, FLB…whatever it is that matches the requirements, put it in. Use Powerwords.
# 5 Choose verbs that mean something.
“Assisted,” “Worked on,” “Contributed to” and so on don’t convey much to a prospective employer. Instead, say what you did: “Wrote,” “Designed,” or “Managed.” The more specific, the better.
# 6 Rewrite the introduction of your resume for each job application.
If you really want a job, your prospective employer isn’t going to be impressed by your inability to adjust one 3-page document to meet their needs.
# 7 State career objectives or outside interests
— but be very careful. Do you know that they’re looking for a “motivated team player who wants to excel in international fashion and likes skiing and hot tubbing?” Great, put that in. Otherwise, save the non-job stuff for the cover letter. Or better yet, the interview.
# 8 The further into your past, the less detail you should have.
Don’t have 13 bullets on a job from 10 years ago. See point 1.
# 9 Keep it short.
A four-page résumé may be justified, but you’ve got to make it clear through headings and organization why you need so much space. If you’ve got a list of publications or industry conferences you’ve spoken at, great, but put it at the end as a separate section. Consider the résumé of a CIO. He doesn’t need to say that he “attended meetings, assigned work” and whatever other tasks. He ran the IT for a whole company. One line.
# 10 No serious typos.
Your résumé is like the restroom in a restaurant – Sorry guys… It’s the best I could come up with. And if you can’t keep that clean, what’s it like in the kitchen?
If you are serious about your application, pay attention, keep it smart, simple and reduce it to the max. Don’t waste other people’s time and when you search and apply for jobs always remember to hunt wisely!