After having written over tens of thousands of resumes, there is one aspect that is clear when it comes to your resume, it can either open the doors for you or it could stall your career graph. With evolving technologies and recruiters always on top of the game in the search for the best talent out there in the market, it becomes all the more important that it beats the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and at the same time is strong enough to pass through the manual screening done by the recruiters. When your resume finally gets through the initial stages and finally reaches the decision maker’s hands, your resume has 15 seconds at the best to make an impression. For this to happen, it is essential that the data that the decision-makers look for is loud and clear. Within a limited time, if your resume is not good enough to make the needed impression, the hard work done to pass through the initial levels go wasted.
Backed by our experience and the feedback received from thousands of recruiters and hiring managers, we’ve analyzed the frequent errors that stall a resume.
Mid and large firms depend a lot on Applicant Tracking Systems to do the screening for them. Keywords are the basis on which the ATS works and hence keywords on your resume and repetition of such keywords become the key to ensuring that your resume gets the right visibility. Focus on aspects that you have done across your career timeline, review the roles and responsibilities that you have handled, include your skills and niche that you’ve gathered over the years. These become your primary keywords, which at a glance, the hiring managers or the decision-makers should be in a position to evaluate your strengths and fitment for a particular profile.
Most resumes that we’ve seen over the years are vague or filled with too much information that it becomes difficult for the decision-makers to place you against a particular profile. Do not confuse them, and with the number of profiles that employers receive against each position, they are not going to call you to figure out your area of focus. It becomes necessary that your resume showcases the profile that you are applying for. You may do this through a resume title followed by your profile summary which shows the area that you are strong at. It is acceptable to have multiple versions catering to the role that you are applying for (For Example: You may have one functional profile for the role of a project manager and another technical profile for the role of a software developer). The focus of the entire resume should be around this and do not dilute the profile by bringing in other aspects.
Don’t bother filling up your resume with long job descriptions. Stick to aspects that you want the hiring manager to read and arrive at a decision. State only parts that make you the best fit for the job that you are applying into. The feedback that we’ve received from several hiring managers shows that they tend to lost interest and discard profiles that are not to the point or generic in nature.
We at CV Designer follow the thumb rule of 2 pager resumes. We’ve arrived at this parameter by analyzing the trends across the globe and the attention span of the readers. We’ve understood that it is near impossible to keep the attention span going beyond the second page. It does not matter the number of years that you hold your work experience, but the resume should not exceed two pages. Anything older than the last ten years is highly irrelevant to the hiring manager and decision-makers. Put your editing skills to good use and remove anything that you consider unnecessary and limit the pages to two.
Formatting the resume is not only pleasing to the eye but also makes the decision maker’s work a lot easier because they can gather the information that they are looking for faster and in a much easier manner. However, do not overdo this or use tables because the usage of tables will take a hit when it comes to the ATS screening. Most ATS engines do not take the data in the right format while parsing when the data points are placed in tables.
Employers are more interested in results than words. List your accomplishments, initiatives, and results that your initiatives have led to. Show the impact that you have been able to create across the organizations and roles that you’ve been part of. It could be anything that is beneficial to the employer, it could be anything starting from productivity achieved to cost saved. Use numbers to validate your results. People tend to trust in numbers more when it comes to results.
Nobody cares to read the objectives on your resume. Replace it with a crisp career summary. Summarize the qualifications that you have accumulated during your years of experience. Bring in the most marketable skills and experience into this section but concise it to 5 – 6 lines. This should give the reader a fair idea of who you are and what you bring to the table.
Most of the resumes that we’ve seen are not focused on the job requirement. The applicants do not go the extra mile to match their resume and skills to the requirement. This weakens the resume at the ATS and manual screening. Evaluate the job description at depth and you will soon be able to filter out the keywords that are hidden in them. These are predominantly the skills that the recruiters and hiring managers look for on your resume. Ensure that you fine-tune your resume in accordance with that and prioritize the skill sets in the order of the requirement, the primary skills first, and then move to the secondary and add-on skills that you come with.
We’ve seen thousands of resumes where there are multiple fonts used or variations of fonts used. Many which are not as much as justified. When it is your resume that creates the first impression, it is important that you make it presentable. The usage of fonts and visuals can be kept for another discussion altogether, but for now, it is essential that the readability of your resume is high. To ensure this, use standard fonts and font sizes. Limit the usage of fonts that are downloaded or fancy fonts. Use a size between 9 – 11 and space it out well to make it pleasing to the eye. Justify or align segments and finally save it in pdf format to preserve the formatting.
We’ve seen a lot of applicants hiding information on their CV, especially when it comes to education or break in their career timeline. Most of the senior professionals try to cover their year of graduation so that they don’t look old. But, that’s not the case, the employers prefer to see a graduation year in order to validate that you have actually completed the degree. Many resumes have false information about the degree that the applicant holds. This is why more and more employers have started doing a round of background check before rolling out the offer letters.
On interviewing over a thousand hiring managers, we found that 75% of them have found the applicant lying on their resumes. The consequence is that in almost all the cases, such applicants were rejected from the position that they were applying for. One must understand that the hiring managers have experience screening thousands of profiles and a red flag on a resume is easy to identify. Most common ones are adding skills that they have no knowledge on or hyping the roles that they have handled in the past. Some even go on to the extent of showing experience in organizations that do not exist or the ones that they have never been a part of. Employers go the extra mile in doing background checks and reference checks. Ensure that you do not lie on the resume and lead to your profile being blacklisted in the market.
In organizational structures that are prevalent today, it becomes difficult for every employer to have designations or job titles that actually match the work one does. So, if you feel that your job title does not reflect your actual role, it is acceptable to modify it to suit the actual work that you do. For example, a Business Analyst can be written instead of your actual position of Level 2 Associate. This way, the one screening your profile will be able to match your profile easily against the job profile that they are looking to hire.
Start each sentence with action words – directed, planned, created, invented, etc. Make each sentence powerful. Limit the usage of ‘I’. Too many ‘I’ subconsciously gives the feeling to the reader that you are self-centered, which is not good when it comes to decision making. Start the sentence with an action verb and keep the sentence short. This is how you create an impact.
You know what the abbreviation on your profile stands for but do not expect the reader to know that. Spell it out, be it the name of your college or the title that you hold. This not only gives a clear picture to the reader but it will also fetch your profile better results at the Applicant Tracking Systems.
Usage of tenses across your profile should be given utmost importance. Aspects you’ve handled in your previous experience in past tense and activities in your current profile in present tense. Give the reader a feeling that you have done it which gives a higher confidence than someone who has mentioned that they know to do it.
When it comes to most Applicant Tracking Systems across the globe, most have a difficulty in identifying content mentioned inside tables. Never use tables if you wish to be ranked higher on the ATS.
Your resume is the last place where you would want to mention anything negative. You may have this urge to mention on why you had to leave the last organization, the reasons could be anything from being laid off to not getting paid. But your resume is not the place where you mention it.
Again, ATS does not recognize image files. A photograph is acceptable, however any other image files that you may use to represent data are not going to be read by the ATS. Excessive image files reduce the ATS rankings and you don’t want to be there. You could always use a visual cv if you wish to represent data using graphs, but make sure that these are created on Microsoft tools such as PowerPoint or Word so that they are not image files and are read by the ATS. It is a tad difficult to create such visuals on Microsoft tools, but not impossible. If you still wish to make your resume stand out, use professional help in getting your visual resume created.
Channelize your approach of applying for a particular position. Ensure that you use all the resources available to get your resume to the right hands. You may use your LinkedIn profile connections or your professional network to identify who is who at the organization that you are applying into and use these resources to get your profile to the right people. However, it is essential that your LinkedIn profile gives them confidence to put you through. So, ensure that your LinkedIn profile is as good as your resume if not better.
If you feel that some component of your resume is going to be useless to the hiring manager of the decision-maker, have it removed. Be it your career objectives or your hobbies or the references that you come with. If your next employer seeks references, they will ask for it. So, there is no necessity for you to have it on your profile.
Make your resume flawless. It is fine to have it reviewed by a third-party. Check for spell errors, grammatical errors, ATS compatibility. It is essential that your resume is 100% ATS Compatible for you to stand a chance getting to the next level of interviews. Do not trust in automated spell checkers, they usually let you down at important places. Have a manual review done and if need be, get it done from professionals.
If you need help in getting your resume reviewed, do mail it across to firstname.lastname@example.org We’ve reviewed tens of thousands of resumes and we know how to make your resume stand out from the average ones.
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