You spent days working on your resume. Even worse, you spent hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars on having someone else write it for you. And yet, no matter how many jobs you apply to online, you can't get an interview.
It turns out, recruiters aren't reading your resume.
Thanks to technology, job boards have become accessible to all job seekers. Applying online is easy and fast. But, that means everyone is doing it. As a result, employers now use ATS (applicant tracking systems) to help them process the increasingly high number of applications they receive. These systems automatically weed out most of the candidates who aren't a close match for the role. To give you an idea, only 3 percent of those who apply online ever get contacted by a recruiter. It's safe to say if you aren't getting called for job interviews, ATS has something to do with it.
Even if a recruiter sees it, they aren't really reading it.
Studies show that due to the overwhelming number of resumes recruiters now receive online, they are forced to "skim" the ones that make it through the ATS in order to weed out candidates that aren't a 100 percent match for the role. Which means you need to design your resume in a format that captures the attention of the skimmer. In fact, one study indicates if you don't get (and keep!) a recruiter's attention with your resume in under 6 seconds, you're being tossed.
White space and objectivity are your friends.
In order to be 6-second worthy, your resume needs to make the most of formatting and content. Here are two tips to help you:
1) White space makes it easier to read. The more empty space there is on a page, the easier it is for someone to read what's actually on it. It's better for your resume to be on two pages than to try to cram it all in on to one. Visual overload will make a recruiter skip reading your resume. A rule of thumb is to never go smaller than a .7 inch margin, or a 11 point font.
2) Stick to the facts - a.k.a. skip the self-flattery. To free up space on your resume, take out all the flowery, subjective text where you try to make your accomplishments sound more important. Recruiters cringe when they see things like, "I'm a innovative self-starter who has mastered the art of..." Instead, stick to the facts. "I managed a team of 20 people and a budget of $500,000." Numbers are not only the easiest thing to read when skimming a resume, they are also what is most likely to be remembered by the recruiter.
Resumes aren't rocket science, but you should learn how to do yours properly.
Many job seekers think the solution to their problem is to have a "professional" write their resume. But, as I alluded to at the beginning of this article, this rarely is a sound investment. Not only do most resume writers feel compelled to create a resume that impresses you (their client), instead of focusing on the need of the recruiter--it's also likely that you will need to update your resume multiple times over the course of your career. Are you willing to pay repeatedly to have it fixed? Thus, learning how to do your own resume is a skill worth developing. Besides, it turns out your cover letter has more of an impact on your chances of getting a job interview today than your resume does!