A Staff.com article revealed that Google receives more than two million job applications each year. Based on the ratio of applicants to hires, landing a job at Google is roughly ten times more difficult than getting into Harvard. If you're going to stand a chance, then you'll have to get past the initial resume screen.
TheLadders, a career and job board site, conducted a comprehensive study of random professional recruiters to better understand their behavior. Using "gaze tracking," which is kind of like heat-mapping, they tracked recruiters as they reviewed resumes. They discovered a clear and consistent visual pattern: a systematic and hierarchical approach to vetting resumes that only took recruiters six seconds to complete.
Although the process is super-fast, recruiters spent 80 percent of the time focusing on these same six areas to determine potential fit:
Your name is the first thing that recruiters see. It might only be for a half-second, but it's the most important. If you stray too far from the expected path, then it could prevent the rest of your resume from being seen.
To ensure recruiters keep reading: Use a legible and recognizable font (nothing too "creative"), include designations and certifications important to the role (i.e. John Doe, MBA or Jane Doe, CPA), include your address and contact info, and lastly, do not include photos/clipart.
In general, anything out of the ordinary can be distracting and detract from your resume.
2 and 3. Current and previous titles and companies
One of the quickest ways for recruiters to determine your qualifications is to look at your current and previous positions. The resumes that immediately stand out have job titles and responsibilities that are relevant to the prospective position, and hail from competing or related organizations.
If your current or former roles have a strange title, then rework them to ensure they're consistent with the rest of your industry. Don't over-embellish. Just make sure that your titles aren't going to leave recruiters guessing.
If you've been fortunate enough to progress within your current or previous employer, then make sure you highlight former positions. To ensure they don't look like multiple jobs, clearly structure your resume to show advancement.
Unfortunately, failing to do so can leave recruiters thinking you've had more jobs than you've actually had. If done correctly, previous positions can help recruiters determine whether or not your promotable and validate your expertise in a specific industry.
4 and 5. Previous and current position start and end dates
Recruiters use these dates to determine the likelihood you'll stay and perform if hired. Although times have changed, having multiple jobs within a short period still raises red flags. If you've averaged less than two years of tenure over the past ten years, be prepared to explain.
Also, if you're currently unemployed, plan on briefly describing the situation in a cover letter or the "Objective" section of your resume. I.e. "Due to an organizational restructure, I'm actively pursuing a new position..."
Similar to the name section, make sure your education is clearly stated. Follow standard formats and confirm the degree and certifications earned meet the requirements for the prospective position.
Back to the basics. That's the take-away from the research conducted by TheLadders. These six areas aren't the most exhilarating components of your resume. However, they are the most important.
If you want to maximize your chances of working for an organization like Google, then you'll have to focus on getting an interview first. Resumes should be written to pass the initial screen, not land you the job. Help recruiters help you by keeping your resume professional yet simple.