Recruiters spend six seconds reviewing a resumé before deciding whether to contact a candidate—meaning layout is critical, keywords crucial, and typos an absolute deal breaker. If you want your resumé to make its way to the top of the pile, keep this advice top of mind.
According to research conducted by online job search company The Ladders, recruiters spend nearly 80 percent of the time they’re reviewing a resumé looking at the candidate’s:
- Current title and company
- Previous title and company
- Current position start and end dates
- Previous position start and end dates
Make sure those data points stand out and are not overshadowed by distracting visuals. Experience should be listed in chronological order, starting with your current position, be void of dense blocks of text, and be formatted identically for consistency. Education information can be placed at the bottom of the page, unless you’re a recent graduate.
Use bullet points to emphasize skills and accomplishments. But when describing them, take out any personal pronouns. Employers know who’s behind the resumé, so remove all uses of “I” or “me” to keep descriptions concise.
Your resumé should only span one page and consist of no more than two fonts. Bold or alternate fonts can be used to make headlines or important information jump out—just avoid underlined text, which is harder for recruiters to read.
After hiring managers look for the six aforementioned data points, they tend to scan resumés for keywords, such as “project management,” “strategic planning,” or “market analysis.” Pull keywords out of the job description and integrate them repeatedly into your resumé.
Consider adding a “Skills Summary” to the top of your resumé. Rather than feature a generic “Objective” that says you’re looking to advance in your career, include a summary complete with the keywords the employer is looking for.
- Include a link to your professional website or LinkedIn profile for employers who want more information.
- Quantify your accomplishments. Whether it’s the number of deals closed, dollars raised, or articles written, put your achievements in numbers employers will understand.
- Remove the phrase: “References available upon request.” If an employer wants your references, the hiring manager will ask for them. Include that information on a separate sheet you can hand the interviewer if he or she requests it.
- Triple-check for any typos or grammatical errors. One wrong “there,” and there could go your shot at a new job.
If you only get six seconds, make sure they count.