So much has been written about how to write a resume. Let me share a few key tips I have found to be true in 20 years of corporate recruiting:
Have an Objective
If you don’t know what you want, it’s hard for the reader to evaluate or it appears that you might take any job. If you are focused, it is easy to assess whether your skills, education and experience support your goal. (
Typical Objective: Challenging job where I can use and enhance my skills in a business setting.
Better Objective: Compensation/Benefits Analyst position using my Human Resources experience and coursework to improve a large organization’s bottom line.
Corporate recruiters can’t even read the hundreds of resumes that come into our databases. We must use keywords to narrow down the candidate pool to a reasonable number. If you are missing related technical/functional words (or misspell them!) a real person may never dig your resume out of the “black hole” known as an Applicant Tracking System.
I once asked a candidate, while looking at his resume, “What are your greatest strengths?” He responded that he was 1) a good public speaker, 2) very detail-oriented, and 3) very strong with MS Excel macros.
I immediately commented that none of those words/phrases were listed on his resume. How do you expect to get a call, based on your resume, if your very best skills/qualities, aren’t even included?
Use numbers to show results
Most resumes I see provide a laundry list of “tasks”. What catches my attention is results. For example, if a candidate used to sell mobile phones:
Typical description: Accomplishments
Sold phone to business users Sold $5,000 of product every three months
Provided customer service Averaged sales of 110% of quota
Followed up on client prospects Achieved 95% rating in client satisfaction surveys
The items in the left column give me no indication of the quality of the candidate’s performance. The items in the right hand column make me want to quickly interview the candidate!
Include all certifications and awards/recognitions that you have received that are still relevant. If you would like to talk about them in a potential interview, and can still perform the skills you used to achieve the awards, include them on your resume.
For example, if you received an award 10 years ago for being an outstanding trainer, and you can still perform that function today, include it on your resume- and be prepared to talk about it in the interview!
Highlights, not entire History
If you have no experience, include your best coursework and community/volunteer activities. If you have extensive experience, omit the oldest or least relevant positions.
A good rule of thumb would be to include your last 10-15 years experience, or your last 3-4 positions.
Now resume tips can vary slightly from recruiter to recruiter, to get another perspective, here’s a part 1 and part 2 of past posts that offer good advice too! By following these key tips, you can stand out from the crowd when being considered for a position. Help the recruiter or hiring manager find your resume, then give them a reason to call you for an interview!