That’s the average length of time that an employer spends looking at your resume.
If what studies say are true, then you only have about 6 seconds to catch their attention.
So how can you prove that you’re the best candidate for the job in such a short time? What makes you stand out among all of the other applicants?
With the right tips, we will teach you how to re-evaluate your current resume, intrigue the employer, and land that interview.
Tip #1: Make sure your resume is customized to the job you’re applying for.
Don’t make the mistake of sending out the same resume to different employers.A vague and generic resume will not do you any favors.
If you really want to land that interview, your resume needs to be tailored to each position and company you apply for.
Show the employer that you are educated on the company and that you really want to work for them. This will increase your odds of receiving a call back.
It becomes obvious quite quickly when a candidate is sending out generic resumes to a wide range of positions and companies. Customize the resume so that it is more tailored for the position.
For example, you should mention some of the key skills or software mentioned in the job description within your resume and even name the file of your resume with the name of the company and position along with your own full name.
If you do this, you will definitely be standing out from other applicants.
Tip #2: Focus your resume on you.
This may sound obvious, but your resume should be focused on you.
After all, it’s your selling tool that will get you in the room for the interview. Use this opportunity to showcase your past experiences and accomplishments to stand out from the other applicants.
What makes you the best option for this potential employer?
Reflecting this in your resume will increase your odds of passing the initial screening process and getting called for an interview. Some great examples to include on your resume are the skills relevant to the position you’re seeking.
For example, if you are applying for a Product Managerposition, say you know SQL or that you are currently learning SQL. Sometimes indicating that you are currently learning something shows a future employer that you are trying to continuously develop your skills.
Tip #3: Keep it simple.
Your resume should not be an elaborate story of your past work history and accomplishments. It can be tempting to brag but always keep it as simple as possible.
Everything on your resume should be strictly factual. Employers want to digest the information and narrow down the search as quickly as they can.
Simplicity is key with formatting as well.
You really don’t need fancy fonts, borders or anything like that. Use one – maybe two – fonts at most. If you prefer using different fonts for headings, then that’s perfectly acceptable to do.
Just stick to standard resume fonts like Calibri or Arial for simplicity. Your resume doesn’t need fancy bells and whistles; it’s about showing the company what you can do for them.
That’s really it—Simple.
Tip #4: Use important keywords to bypass the initial screening.
Did you know that most larger companies use a screening technique to narrow down applicants in the hiring process?
Some companies will do this manually, but most use a form of an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software. It must be done because they receive so many applications for each role.
Essentially, they use this process to find the candidates that are best suited for the job.
This is exactly why you should tailor your resume to each employer, to avoid being weeded out in the initial screening.
Go back into the job posting and look for the keywords that the employer uses to describe the job. Make sure all of the most important words are reflected in your resume, wherever relevant.
Some of the most common keywords that recruiters might be looking for are:
- Industry-specific skills, such as graphic design or answering high-volume phone calls
- Soft skills, such as communication or team management
- Job titles, such as Customer Service Representative or Social Media Manager
- Training or certification, such as Business Management degree
Insert the keywords in the beginning of your resume where necessary in order for the software to pick up on them. For more information on using keywords and phrases that employers often look for, you can view them here.
Tip #5: Ask yourself, does this resume accurately reflect me for my skills and who I am?
The fact of the matter is that your resume is how you sell yourself to the employer.
However, as tempting as it may be to exaggerate your skills – this is never a good idea. Always keep your skills and qualifications as real as possible.
Of course, your resume should make yourself look as good as possible, but it should remain true to you. Embellishing your qualifications can land you in an awkward situation and even cost you the job down the road
Tip #6: Is your writing error-free?
Make sure to proof-read your resume before sending it to an employer. You could be the best candidate the employer has ever seen, but no experience or accomplishment will outweigh a ton of spelling errors.
This shows carelessness and is usually a red flag for recruiters. You can spell-check your resume right on many document editors like Microsoft Word or Google Docs in a matter of minutes. A quick scan of the document and errors are highlighted, with suggested alternatives.
You can also utilize free resources, such as an online spell checking service to your advantage. All you have to do is paste your text or upload your document and you will have your writing assessed immediately.
Another helpful tip is printing out your resume and looking for grammatical errors. You’d be surprised when printing out your resume what other errors you may have missed as opposed to just editing it on a computer.
Whichever way you decide to spellcheck, this is an incredibly important step before sending your resume to any potential employers.
Sometimes it’s difficult to pick up on our own errors, which is why it’s a great idea to get someone in your line of work to read over your resume.
They will be more likely to catch industry-related errors, and may be able to provide their two cents, plus it’s always good to get a second opinion. This could be a previous employer or co-worker, friend or the like
Tip #7: Is your resume easy to read and skimmable?
Recruiters get hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes for each position.
Therefore, it’s crucial to stand out from the other applicants.
If you skim through your resume, is it easy to pick up on the key points?
Your resume should always be as concise and easy to read as possible. Aim to leave a little extra white space left over if you can as well; it’s more pleasing for the eye.
A page packed full of words can be a little overwhelming for the reader. Freeing up white space for each separate section will break up the document perfectly – and it will signal to the reader that it’s time for a new section.
To make your resume even more skimmable, be sure that your text is aligned on the left side of the page.
This makes it so much easier to read.
The only exception is places and dates, which should have a right alignment. This is much more visually appealing to the reader.
Keep in mind that no text should ever be centered in the middle of the page
The formatting, font style, and font size should remain consistent throughout the resume. Even if you are trying to fit the last bit of information in the page, make sure it is consistent with the rest of the formatting.
Refrain from using all caps often – save this strictly for headings or your name, if at all.
Always use bullet points instead of paragraphs of text for easier reading. Keep things short and condensed for each bullet point.
Not only will this give your resume a much cleaner look, but it looks much more professional as well. You can condense your resume further by using digits when talking about numbers.
For example, instead of saying fifty percent, you can write 50%. Digits are much easier for recruiters to read and skim.
Tip #8: Skip the pictures.
Most employers would agree that there is a long list of things to leave off your resume.
Photos are right at the top of that list. As tempting as it may be, it’s best to leave pictures of yourself off your resume.
Despite this being the digital age, including photos in your resume is still seen as a big No-No.
By attaching a photo of yourself, this can create a lot of problems for employers that were otherwise avoidable.
If a candidate feels they weren’t called in to an interview because they belong to a specific minority group, this can open up claims for discrimination.
It’s better to keep things neutral and as anonymous as possible in this stage.
Even if you are applying for a design or photography position, your potential employer likely does not want to see photos of your work anywhere on your resume.
Regardless of the industry of which you’re applying to work, this is definitely not the time or the place. It’s better to showcase your work in a separate portfolio if it applies to your line of work.
Or in your resume, you could have hyperlinks to some of your work or online portfolio if any. If an employer is interested, he or she will look at your work or ask you to provide samples.
Remember, most employers like to see a simple, straightforward resume without unnecessary graphics or headshots
Tip #9: Make sure it is the proper length.
At first thought, a long resume full of relative experience may sound very appealing – but this is quite far from the truth for the majority of recruiters.
Your resume should be the proper length for the position you are applying to. It is extremely unlikely that the reader would make it past the third page anyway.
As a general rule of thumb, if you are applying for an entry-level position then make sure to keep your resume within the length of one page.
If you have adequate experience in the industry you’re applying for, a two-page resume is suggested.
Your resume should never exceed the three-page mark, regardless of how much experience you have.
Think about it from the employer side. If one gets hundreds of applications to read, how long are they going to look at your resume? They will most likely skim through it.
So, keep your resume wording concise.
Take out any unnecessary fluff that makes your resume look overcrowded. As you gain experience in your industry, you can slowly start to remove unrelated experience.
For example, if you have obtained schooling or experience for a dental office, you can remove unrelated work (such as serving in fast food chains or being a sales associate in a retail store for example).
Irrelevant experience that is older than ten years should definitely be removed from your resume.
The more you can narrow everything down to your chosen career path, the better.
Make sure you always have your most recent experience listed. The most relevant experiences should always be shown first.
Tip #10: Show a little personality
The tone of your resume should always reflect the industry in which you are applying to.
However, there is a time and place for showcasing your personality.
The best place to do this is by creating a Hobbies and Interests section if you don’t already have one. Doing this can tell the employer a little bit about who you are as a person, aside from your work history.
A brief hobby section can give your application a little depth and improve your likability from one single document. Some people see this section as unnecessary, however, it can be the tipping point that gets you an interview
A clean, professional resume is the first step in getting noticed in a sea of other applicants. By keeping your resume as concise and simple as possible, you will increase your odds of catching and keeping an employer’s attention. If your skills and qualifications fit well with the job, delivering a well-written resume will do wonders.
The truth is, there are so many applicants that have no idea what employers look for in a professional resume.
By following these tips to re-evaluate your resume, you’ll already have a leg up on some of the other applicants. You can let your experience and accomplishments shine and deliver an eye-catching resume.
Stay tuned for our upcoming tips all about diversity, inclusion, and equality in the workplace.