March 18, 2008

Why Your Resume Isn't Cutting the Mustard

I sat down today at my desk and spent an hour reviewing about 50 resumes as I prepared to begin the interviewing process for an open requisition/position I am trying to fill. And out of those 50, only 7 made the cut. I was interrupted a handful of times with phone calls and questions. I spent roughly 15-20 seconds skimming each resume. Yes, I said 15-20 seconds, some less, some more. So what made those resumes stand out above the rest?

  • Be qualified for the job. The job board revolution has made it easy for recruiters to access active candidate's resume and has changed the way most recruiter's fill positions. However, this revolution also allowed candidates easy access to millions of jobs with the click of a mouse. About 30% of the resumes I reviewed today, didn't meet the minimum qualifications for the position. I recommend not applying for that pie in the sky job unless you have a networking contact at the company who can testify to your excellent sales skills or experience in accounting.

  • Less is more. Less words, less pages, less bullets, less objectives, less stuff is more. Do you want the Recruiter to spend 15 seconds reading your long objective or do you want the recruiter to view your experience and qualifications? Remove distracting items like crazy text, photos, or unnecessary personal information like your hobbies or the number of grandchildren you have.

  • Tailor your resume to the job. If you are interested in a position as a Bookkeeper, include your skills that relate to bookkeeping on your resume. Include the words that relate to the position you are applying for as well as and relevant computer or software programs you have used, any certifications, or special training you received. You don't always have to include every position you have worked, just the jobs that are relevant to the position you are applying for. In other words, leave out your bartending position if you are applying for a position that has nothing to do with bartending if you are looking for a Dental Assistant position.

  • Include a coverletter. I recommend this especially if you have recently relocated, applying for a position outside of your experience, or to give the hiring manager more information to set you apart from the rest. Typically, I don't read coverletters unless something doesn't add up in their resume. Some companies require a coverletter and will disqualify the applicant if they do not include one.

  • Network. If you have read previous posts, you know that I am passionate about networking. Networking allows you the inside scoop about unadvertised jobs, provide testimonials about you as a candidate, and dramatically increase your odds of landing a job. Out of those 50 applications, 2 were from referrals in my network. It doesn't guarantee them the position, but it definitely gives the candidate an edge.