Writing a Resume Tips For Job Seekers Directly From Recruiters

The Business of Recruiting: A colleague of mine works for a major glass manufacturer in purchasing. The global company’s in-house recruiting department, like most, uses two things to recruit for open positions: recruiting software/automated tracking system (ATS) and a third party recruitment process outsourcing company (RPO.) In the last six months alone she has referred three candidates for open positions who did not make it past the initial screening by the RPO. Two of them got the job. Closer examination of why this occurred revealed that the candidate did not have well written resumes. In the words of an executive recruiter, “Unfortunately great candidates do not always put together great resumes so they may not get through the auto screening process.”

A good recruiter realizes that the ATS and RPO are tools that support them in finding good candidates for their open position. In the healthcare industry, one open position garners as many as 300 resumes of many unqualified candidates. Recruiters have to rely more heavily on the tools to help them manage through the sifting for a qualified candidate. Additionally, both in-house and third party recruiters often times have broad search assignments and a large number of open positions on their plates. Recruiters are measured and compensated on placement, so the sooner they get a new hire in the door the better. Keep in mind, however, that the recruiter is just the initial gateway to getting a job offer; the hiring manager makes the decision. Many times, recruiters do not have enough in-depth technical skills to really understand what they are looking for and therefore cannot decipher a bad resume when a great candidate is behind it. This is when they start relying solely on ATS searches by using keywords. The more technical or specialized your profession, the more likely it is that the recruiter will use the ATS system more heavily to screen candidates. Thus if you have a bad resume, your chances of being selected are slim. The business of recruiting is a difficult one, make no mistake about it. They, too, are trying to do much more with much less and have a tremendous amount of responsibility on their plates. They are required to have technical knowledge of the job, the recruiting and HR field, and the candidate. The easier you make their job, the more likely it is they will find you. The way to do this is to have a great resume.

Elements of a Great Resume: The number of people I talk to in a week who tell me they don’t have the “time” to put into researching companies and jobs in the hidden job market is astonishing. If you are a job candidate who is willing to put some elbow grease into your job search then you are already ahead of many. It is a full time job to find a full time job. It’s hard work, too. However, having the right tools to get the job done will make the search go more smoothly and much quicker. The main tool in your toolbox – you guessed it – your resume.

The resume is designed to give the reader a summary of your career. Note the key word – summary. Recruiters do not like, let alone pay attention to, resumes that are long winded, too detailed, not detailed enough or read like a job description. They want to see word jump out at them, first through their ATS software then in print. Keep in mind that they want to find you as much as you want to be found and the more concise your resume is, the higher the chances are that will happen.

SWOT Analysis: The first step to a great resume starts with an assessment of your strengths and what sets you apart from other candidates. The SWOT analysis, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, is a great tool to use to do this. This is a critical piece of the resume and one many candidates miss. It can also be the hardest for the job seeker to assess, so take great time and care completing this exercise. Identifying where your skill gaps are relative to the job you are looking at can be helpful in deciding whether you should even apply for it. Don’t waste your time or the recruiters. Opportunities are where you can identify skills that can be transitioned to another industry or field. Threats can help you assess the changing dynamics of the job market in the field you are pursuing and will help you make adjustments to your resume.

S.W.O.T. Analysis

Strengths – What am I good at and/or want do I want to continue doing?

Weaknesses – What do I not like to do or am not good at? Where do I need more training and focus? What do I not want to do anymore?

Opportunities – What careers/jobs are available in my current profession? What careers/jobs are available in a profession I’m interested in?

What are the threats preventing me from getting a job in my current field? In the field I want to go into?

Format: You have three choices in formatting the summary of your career: chronological, function and a combination of both, or hybrid.

Chronological Resume: The traditional and most commonly used format for resumes is the chronological resume. This type of resume is organized by your employment history in reverse chronological order, with job titles/names of employers/locations of employers/dates of employment/ accomplishments, working backward. A standard chronological resume is the appropriate format if most or all of your experience has been in one field, you have no large employment gaps, and you plan to stay in that same field.

Functional Resume: The resume format that is appropriate for job seekers with a limited job history, a sporadic job history, or a job history in a different career field. The functional format organizes your resumes by skills and functions categories. In a purely functional resume, company names, employment dates, and position titles are omitted in the category and presented in summary at the end.

The Hybrid: Is just what the name implies – a combination of both.

More than One Format? Your resume is one of the most fundamental tools of so take the time and care to develop the best resume based on your previous work experience and job-search aspirations. You are going to need to be flexible so have one of each prepared so that you can either at your fingertips for whichever format your audience is requesting.

Contact Information: Your contact information should be simple and concise. Your name, address, ONE phone number with a professional voicemail message, email address and a link to your LinkedIn profile. You should have a professional profile, particularly if you are more technical and specialized. You can give the reader more information about your career through a professional profile and you will make it easy for them to find you by providing them that link.

Resume Title: A resume title sets the tone for the entire resume and should contain a keyword that is critical to the job you seek. It is an opportunity for you to present yourself at a professional level rather than starting out with an objective, which is only appropriate for those just entering the professional realm. It gives the reader a sense of your confidence and allows him/her to know what you do within a split second.

Professional Summary: Create a robust Professional Summary that supports the title. It should be one fluid, descriptive paragraph highlighting your experience in your field and overall results you have achieved with your education and work experience. Find keywords that are typical and critical to your expertise.

Content: Based on the results of your SWOT analysis, make a list of all of your strengths. Make a list of your job responsibilities in each position you’ve held. If you have trouble remembering or coming up with a comprehensive list, do a search for that particular job or job title on an online job search engine such as indeed.com or simplyhired.com and compare job postings with jobs you have done in the past; it will help jog your memory.

Core Competencies: Pull a list of core competencies out of the summary and make it a separate category so the reader has an easier time visually pulling that information out. Core competencies should be specialized skills you have that are part of your strength list from your SWOT analysis. In other words, this is your opportunity to list some of the skills that make you unique from other candidates. It should be a bulleted list of no more than 9 so you do not double dip in the rest of your resume or overwhelm the reader.

Professional Experience: The format of your Professional Experience should address three main areas: The challenge to be solved; the action you took to solve it, the results of your actions. Write a sentence or two describing the company you work(ed) for; what they do and how they serve their customer. If you have chosen a functional resume you will want to write a full sentence on a specific expertise you possess within the functional category; spell out for the reader why you consider yourself an expert in that function. It will bring a link between your responsibility and your contribution to the firm. Write a brief summary of your responsibilities and actions, and then give the results in a bulleted list under each job. Results should include hard numbers and show the reader how you added revenue or reduced cost in some way. Going back to your SWOT analysis, quantify your results for the reader and make it easy for a hiring manager to see what you achieved in each position you held.

When writing the action you took to get from the responsibility to the result, make sure you connect the dots for the reader. Instead of saying you are a team player, state that you “partnered with the accounting department and resolved invoices that were over 90 days old, resulting in a 64% increase in collections.” Tell the reader what you did and what result came from your actions. It makes a huge difference.

Tell a story and bring your resume to life: There is nothing better than a visual snapshot of ones professional career to spark a recruiter to take action. If you dusted off your old document and brought it up to date, you are sunk before you even sail. Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes and think about the last time the written word caught your eye. What was it about the piece that grabbed your attention? What compelled you to read on and find out what was behind the headline? What words provoked you to think or imagine the story as you read along? When writing your resume, do the same for the reader and make the document something they can imagine and get excited about.