It’s well documented that the average employer spends only a few seconds scanning a resume before deciding whether it’s worth a closer look. How can you maximize your chances of getting from first glance to job offer? We asked some of our experienced recruiters what makes them sit up and take notice. Here’s what they told us:
First impressions: Keep it organized and clean
Overwhelmingly, our recruiters prefer a resume that is simple, clean and legible.
“I love when I see a CV that is consistent throughout the entire document,” says Aerotek recruiter Kate Keller
. “When the candidate uses the same font, spacing and tense from beginning to end, it shows me that they take pride in their work, have attention to detail and will represent Aerotek well while on assignment.”
Along the same lines, our recruiters agree that unless the candidate is in a design or creative field, it’s best to minimize the bells and whistles on your resume.
“The design of the resume should not distract the reviewer from what is actually important and that is your experience,” says Paul Gianfagna
. “The easier to read and the quicker I can find the key words I am looking for, the better it is.”
P.S. notes Jackie Ross
: “No spelling errors, please! The resume is really a marketing document so you want it to represent you in the best way possible.”
The essentials: Sell your skills and experience!
Take the time to make your resume really stand out. Julie Lewis
is looking for a “resume [that includes] a well-formed objective statement, clear and detailed information about the work performed in each position, the type of companies and environments where the work was performed, the accomplishments of the candidate and related certifications, training and education.”
She also encourages candidates to keep your resume tailored to the position you are applying to. “If a candidate has broad experience, they may want to create different (but accurate) resumes that focus more on the specific skills or experience necessary for different types of positions,” says Lewis.
agrees and shares his reservations about candidates whose job responsibilities include “very little content that look like they were copied and pasted from the company’s job description.”
Finally, Sam Yeomans
adds that “The ideal resume shows career progression.”
Back it up: It’s all in the details
“The best resumes have facts, numbers and statistics,” says Gianfagna. “I want to see specifics about your job responsibilities. If you work in a high volume business, give me numbers. Whether it’s handling 100 calls a day or managing three clinical studies across 20 sites in the U.S., be sure to clarify and don’t be ambiguous,” he says. “Your resume should provide a clear picture of what you have done and what you can do for the prospective employer.”
Candidates should clearly state their technical skills and industry experience (i.e. developing, testing, designing, programming, coding, de-bugging, etc.), followed by the languages they used to complete their tasks,” says Claire Krieger
New to the workforce? Don’t worry. Recruiters like Alex Hirt
, who works in Aerotek’s scientific division appreciate when entry-level candidates provide specific information about job-relevant coursework.
“When I have a candidate who majored in chemistry or biology, I really need them to include their laboratory techniques or applicable laboratory classes. This is the biggest sell factor you can have with an entry level graduate,” says Hirt.
Keywords matter: Help yourself get found
Be sure to include key words that pertain to the job you’re after, says Keller. “Typically, I look at a candidate’s most recent position to see if the top three requirements of my job [opening] are included in the description. I also look at the titles of the previous three or four positions to see how closely they match up to the job duties.”
always scans resumes for keywords. “Sometimes I personally scan the resume. In other cases, I conduct a Boolean search where the system automatically highlights the keywords and sorts them based on relevancy,” she says. “I generally look for references to particular software programs such as Excel or Oracle or keywords such as ‘medical billing,’ ‘Medicare,’ or ‘Spanish.’”
“The first thing I look for is buzz words that match the job [duties],” says Krieger. For example, “If a [job] requires a background in medical devices or in FDA regulations, then I’ll be looking for those buzz words."