5,280. That is the approximate number of resumes my team has reviewed over the past two weeks. I would love to tell you that every resume is read from the bottom up with significant amounts of time invested into each bullet point. But, the reality is we are laser focused on key items that will determine how we move forward. Here’s what you need to do to separate your resume from its competition:
Only list technical skills and qualifications you have actual experience with and can confidently discuss. Listing broader skills that were utilized on a project you were a part of, but didn’t utilize yourself, is a fast way of losing credibility and being removed from consideration.
Be concise and straightforward.
- Don’t write an objective. Instead, write a short summary (2-4 sentences) around how your experience will solve their need. If appropriate, “award winning…” or “consistently recognized for..” are effective ways of incorporating your proven skills in this section.
- Provide a technical skills summary. Provide a clean, easy to read summary of the software, languages, hardware, systems, and networking tools that represent your personal, in-depth experience. I always recommend listing them in order of confidence for you.
- Use the right keywords. Many recruiters do keyword searches to zone in on certain parts of your resume. Ensure the phrases, acronyms, and keywords that will best present your background are utilized. Reviewing the company’s job description to see the terms they use may help you determine how you want to modify your resume. Consider that a non-technical person may be reviewing your resume.
- Watch the length. The length of your resume is important. Is it too long with too much detail, or too short with missing content? Consider the technologies and positions you held in the earlier stages of your career and determine the relevancy. If they aren’t related to your targeted position, simply list the job title, company, and dates of employment for your earlier positions. Try to keep your resume to two pages (no longer than three) unless you are a Tech Writer or Project Manager.
- Make it quick and easy to see what you’ve accomplished. Each position should contain a brief summary of your responsibilities- and the specific improvement or benefit that your experiences had on your employer. Accomplishments should reflect specific, measurable results. What problems did you solve? What hurdles did you overcome? If you lack a great deal of experience, list what school projects, non-profit support, or freelance work you have completed. List what training you pursued. For contract work, summarize your projects and the benefits of engaging you.
- List memberships or specific technology groups that represent your involvement and continuing education.
- Use action verbs such as developed, programmed, managed, lead, organized…and ensure the tenses are accurate.
- Ensure the same fonts are used throughout your resume.
- Be consistent with your use of periods at the end of sentences.
- Spell check every time you make an edit.
- If you are sending a Word version of your resume, ensure the document is named 2015 vs. 2014. Otherwise, it could give the impression your search has been long.
- If your LinkedIn profile represents you appropriately, include a link at the top along with your email address and phone number.
- Write your resume all the time. Whenever you have a success (recognition, promotion, etc.), add it to your resume so that you don’t forget anything. If you are only writing your resume when you are looking for a new position, chances are you will miss important accomplishments.