Creating a Resume that Works Harder

Here are some simple tips for how you can make your resume work harder in your job search — especially during these tough economic times.

Keep in mind that today’s hiring employer is inundated with resumes. At Jobfox, we routinely hear stories about recruiters receiving 300 to 500 resumes for each open position. The typical corporate recruiter is handling five to 10 job openings, which means they may be looking at more than 3,000 resumes at any one time.

Thus the challenge. Your resume must stand out in an environment where a recruiter only has about five seconds to screen your resume.

Here’s what you can do to make your resume stand out:

Include an objective statement that says what you want. A recruiter needs immediate context to help them see where you might fit in the organization and what career steps you wish to make. Often, your resume is received in a general mailbox where it is mixed in with resumes for other positions. A recruiter, in a matter of seconds, needs to be able to look at your resume and know exactly where you belong.

Choose a layout and font that emphasizes readability — in print and online. You’d be surprised at the number of resumes we see that include a font that’s not on computers, which can turn your formatting into gibberish. Remember that recruiters are looking at thousands of resumes. They have bleary eyes and will quickly pass on the overdone resume that’s hard to visually digest. Simple, visually attractive resumes get far more interviews.

Illustrate what you’ve accomplished versus just cataloging your previous responsibilities. Most resumes are a laundry list of what the person did in previous jobs instead of what they accomplished and contributed. Today’s employer is looking for people who can solve challenges. You can stand out as that person by showing what you’ve accomplished in the past.

Design your resume so a computer can read it. Many large companies use automated scanning computers that read your resume and route it to a person or, in many cases, a digital black hole. (Yes, if you’re not hearing back from an employer you might be getting rejected by a computer.) A well resigned resume includes the keywords and formatting that makes it easy for a resume parsing machine to learn about you and route you to a decision maker.

Don’t do anything cute. Ever. We see resumes that use e-mail addresses such as “hotlegs41” and lists of personal interests such as ferrets, wine and losing golf. Nothing will get you rejected quicker than using poor judgment on your resume.

I hope you find these tips helpful. What are your resume pet peeves?