After spending hours agonizing over the perfect resume that displays your skills you decide to blast it out to every employer out there. You can almost hear the calls for interviews already!
You don’t hear anything
Clearly the employers are just taking a while to get to your resume because they are all spending time reading Every. Single. Resume. Right?
In fact, the average amount of time an employer spends on each resume is 6 seconds!
Wait! SECONDS? Yes! UNLESS in those six seconds your resume catches their eye as quality.
In most cases, employers get 100+ applications for each open position. They do not have more than a few seconds to spend on every resume. Prioritizing is essential! The reality is that employers are looking for reasons NOT to spend extra time on your resume. Which means 6 seconds is the initial glance, then the resume moves to the recycle bin or into a pile to be passed off to the admin for follow up calls for an interview.
Chances are you’ve put time, effort, and possibly money into this resume. So how can you get past 6 seconds?
Use a Template
If you are not confident in your resume writing skills there are free templates online or in Microsoft Word itself. Look for templates that are simple, well organized, and aesthetically pleasing. Keep reading for what to put in. Other options include community agencies, paying for a resume writing service, etc.
Caution: If you use a template please replace all the fields with your information. It’s hard to believe you have attention to detail if your submitted resume still says “[insert skills here]”.
Tailor Your Resume
Your resume has a few seconds of the employer’s valuable attention. Make sure your resume matches the position. In most cases, if the employer has to try to find the connection between your skills and what they need… they won’t. Make the connection for them by tailoring your resume to the position. Find words and phrases that have been used multiple times in the job description and put them in your resume (appropriately). On a very basic level, don’t apply to positions where you aren’t actually qualified! It’s never beneficial when the employer wonders why you applied to the position.
Pro Tip:The fact that you have family in the medical field alone does not make you eligible to apply for an RN position without the education/experience/background.
If there are too many (or even one) typos you are not likely to make 6 seconds. Most word processing programs have a spell check feature. Employers know the spell check feature exists and is automatic. If you don’t care enough to spell check your resume, will you care enough on the job? Employers have plenty of resumes. They are looking for ways to filter them. Don’t let spell check be the reason you don’t get your dream job.
Reverse Chronological Order
If you choose to write a chronological resume, put your most recent employment first. English readers skim pages top to bottom. If your most recent employment is all the way at the bottom, the employer won’t get to it. Do you want their first impression of your employment background to be a position you held 10 years ago?
The general rule is to include 10 years of employment. Have you ever been in a situation where someone overshared their life story and it pushed you away? By about Page 4 of your 5th major industry change employers have a lot of questions you aren’t present to answer. Just kidding, they only read page one… because there is not enough time to read 6 pages of a resume – but I’ll get to that next.
Pro Tip:This is not a hard and fast rule. For example, if a position requires more than 10 years of experience in a certain industry it is important to show that on your resume. Also, for a federal resume go ahead and forget all of what you’ve just read. Those resumes have their own rules.
One of the most common resume questions we get is about page count. The short answer is 1-2. The better answer is “it depends.” For general positions that require less than 5 years of experience, one to two pages is plenty. For a position that requires an extensive academic background, portfolio, project management experience, etc., link up with an industry expert and take care of business!
What to Include
Again, the best answer here is it depends. The most common sections that employers require and view are Contact info (it helps to live in the same area), Professional Summary (first sentence and last sentence are read, the middle skimmed), Education & Certifications (College Graduation dates and relevant in progress degrees only), Work Experience (Name of company, Dates of employment (month/year), Job title, description), and Relevant Skills.
Pro Tip: Be consistent with formatting throughout! There is no need to write “references upon request.” Most employers know that, BUT if the employer asks you to include references in the resume, do so…
Do not get Fancy with the font. Stick with the standard Times New Roman or Ariel. Your fancy font is hard to read. Making it huge or very small isn’t helping your case either. That’s not the way you want your resume to stand out. In most cases it is better to stick with a standard format so the employer knows exactly where to look and gets more of the information on your resume. Don’t make them work for it. They don’t have time. The easier it is to find your skills and background, the easier it is for them to realize you’re the perfect fit.
Phrasing – Know Your Audience
Do not use colloquialisms in your resume. On the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t make the employer look up words in the dictionary. If you decide to use an acronym, make sure it is well known within the industry you are applying. This also means if you are switching industries tailor your resume to the new industry (know your audience). For example, as a military veteran there were positions I held and tasks I completed daily in the military that do not exist outside of that industry. I had to change more than just words/phrases in order to relate my skills to a new industry. You are in the best position to bridge the gap for the employer.
Chronological, Functional or Combination?
The reverse chronological resume is definitely the standard. However, if your work history is anything but standard you may need to use the functional or hybrid resume. What are you trying to emphasize? In Chronological, you are emphasizing your longevity and progression in the field. If you have employment gaps they are highlighted with this type. Use a functional resume to highlight your strengths, rather than time. The drawback with the functional format is perception. Employers know many candidates use functional resumes to hide employment gaps, underemployment, lack of experience, etc. An effective combination resume can show longevity, strengths, and progression. This is the most comprehensive and most difficult to master. The most common problem with the combination resume is that usually the work history details are on page two. Another common problem is that instead of the best of both functional and chronological, it ends up being a patched up hack-job of two lacking resumes.
Pro Tip:Show it to a friend and watch their face when they read it. If they have ANY QUESTIONS at all or make a face that suggests they are confused – try again.
If you’ve already put a resume out there that has some of the fatal flaws I describe – DON’T WORRY! Fix it and send it out again. There is an opportunity out there that meets your needs. It’s probably with us here at Optimum RTS!
Suzanne is the glue that holds Team Optimum RTS together. She wears many hats in our office and her organizational skills are OUTSTANDING!