Surveys show that recruiters spend about six seconds on their first look at a resume.
That sounds about right to me.
I have decades of experience reviewing resumes for a living and I developed a finely tuned superpower for scanning a resume quickly to find the key information I need so I can decide if it’s worth looking further.
How much can I see in a few seconds?
A lot, honestly. Enough to quickly and confidently sort the resumes that definitely won’t work from those that are worth a deeper look.
I do it by focusing on certain things as I do my first scan over the pages.
Here’s what I’m looking for:
Do the job titles match what I’m looking for?
Let’s say I’m recruiting for a marketing manager. That means I’m looking for resumes from marketing managers, or people who work in marketing or at the very least, I need someone who is targeting a marketing job.
I am definitely not interested in someone who thinks does not show recent marketing experience or where I’d be relying on a lot of transferable skills. The recruiter’s job is to find someone who has the necessary experence.
So if the right job titles or key words are not obvious, or the headline talks about operations or sales or accounting, and I don’t see marketing I’m moving on. This is not the marketing manager I am looking for.
Tip: Use a headline that highlights what you do and reflects the job you’re applying to. Tailor it for every single job you go after so it’s clear what you do. If your previous jobs don’t match, find a way to make it look like they do. (And if you can’t do that, don’t apply for that job.)
Are there typos, misspellings or grammatical errors?
Top candidates make sure their all-important marketing document (which is what a resume is) is perfect. I believe that how you do anything is how you do everything, and if you have sloppy mistakes and errors in your super-important resume, then you are showing me that you do sloppy work, and I’m looking for excellence in every way. More than one or two very minor typos and I figure that if you don’t care, I don’t care.
Tip: Proof twice. Do a spelling and grammar check. Then get someone else to proof it, too. Make it perfect.
Does it look modern?
If you want to make a positive impression with innovative companies, you can’t look old-fashioned or stuffy. Company’s want candidates who have kept up with the times, so resumes with an objective statement, laundry lists of old software, those weird arrow bullets, overly formal language or underlined Times New Roman headers look like 1990. An old-fashioned resume makes you look old-fashioned
Tip: Read up about the latest options for resumes and seriously, if you’re in a competitive field, get professional help. Your resume represents your personal branding and it’s one investment that can pay off quickly in many ways. Few things can transform your job search like a great resume, and transforming your job search means transforming your career.
Does the story it tells make sense?
a resume should tell the story of your career in simple, easy-to-understand language. If you cram it with acronyms, statistics, corporate-speak, buzzwords and general trying-to-sound-important filler fluff, it’s too hard to decipher. A confusing resume looks like you don’t understand what you do, and I need clear communicators, no matter what the job I’m recruiting for.
Tip: Tell the story of your career in the clearest and simplest language possible.
Evaluating a resume to try to understand the person it represents is a much deeper process, of course, and the better the resume looks, the more time I will take in considering the candidate for an interview. Make it worth the recruiter’s time to look more deeply at you as a candidate.
So knowing this criteria of one experienced recruiter, take a look at your own resume… how would it do? Is it clear what you do? Is it free from errors? Does it look modern? And does it tell a strong story?
Be honest, and if you think it falls short, do some work to bring it up to snuff so it stands out in that sea of not-worth-the-time-to-read competition.
This content was originally published here.