The Novo Blog

Resume Writing Tips (from a Recruiter)

Posted by: The Novo Group on February 1, 2010

By: Allie Milbrath

I spend about 15 seconds looking at a resume to decide if it is worth reading on or not. About 30 seconds later, I decide whether I am going to call the candidate or not. Some may think that is rude and unfair due to all the hours you put in to make sure it best reflects your work history-no matter what, you deserve a phone call right?

Unfortunately in today’s market there is just not enough time on the recruiter’s hands for that courtesy. Many job seekers are too thorough, add unnecessary content to their resume and do not focus on the right things, leading the recruiter to put it to rest . . . in the trash can.

I talk to a lot of candidates on a daily basis as a recruiter. Whether I am talking to an active or passive candidate, there are a lot of questions around what to include in a resume and many people have different ideas on what should be and should not be included in a resume. Should you list all the responsibilities from your job description, give the reasons why you separated from a former employer, fill in reasons for gaps in employment history? I recommend no to all of these. Hiring managers are looking for one thing that can get you a phone call to explain all the other aspects of your job. They are looking for accomplishments. It is that easy. Let’s take an example.

Resume A says: ”Part of strategic forecasting team,” as one of their bullet points. Short and concise right?

Resume B: ”Strategic forecasting team that led to a 95% accuracy among our top 10 key accounts. Our strategic team was named Top Forecasting Team for three consecutive years due to our accuracy and innovative technique.”

As a recruiter I see Resume A as someone who may be part of the strategy team which is great, but is not clear if they are a leader and I have no idea what they have contributed so I’m going to assume they did not achieve anything of significance otherwise they would have documented it. Resume B displays responsibility AND accomplishment. Most hiring managers will have a general idea of what your responsibilities are from your title. You can turn any bullet point you have on your resume to reflect an accomplishment versus just listing responsibilities. All you need to think about is how you have been successful with each job responsibility that you have. Your SUCCESSES are the most important items to communicate on your resume. You can go into more detail about your day to day activities and give more examples of your accomplishments in the interview. It takes ACCOMPLISHMENTS andSUCCESSES to get the opportunity to interview with the hiring team.

Some jobs are easier than others to showcase accomplishments. But there is a simple exercise that everyone can do to come up with the proper bullet points on their resume. Simply reflect on your current job. What are your top 3 successes? What are your top 3 challenges that you have overcome? Answer these questions and you already have 6 bullet points! Remember to always turn the challenge into a success. If you think about your challenges and the steps you have taken to overcome them, you will differentiate yourself and increase your chances of getting that first call.

Most would be extremely surprised at what some feel necessary to share on a resume. For fun I thought I would share some statements for you. These are actual resumes I have received. Keep in mind we are an executive search firm and work on high level positions, yet these candidates have never been given the right guidance on what to include, and not include on a resume.

“October 2005-present: Currently doing awesome, wonderful things” This is coming from a senior level technology manager in a Fortune 500 company.

“Education: Hard Knocks 1983-2012 expected” This came from a professional in sales! Sure it’s a little funny, but it is going to prevent this person from getting a call.

This is an excerpt from an objective on a resume we received for an Account Executive role: “I think this is a great opprotunity. I am available tomarrow to discuss the opprottunity. I am interested because your client was a reccomended emplowyer from another friend of mine.” Spell check is a great invention . . . only if people use it!

This came from an applicant through a job board posting and sometimes you have to answer pre-qualifying questions. This candidate went overboard. ”Security Clearance: Super-duper, double-dog no security clearance at all. I have access to the copy machine. Is that worth anything?” Number one, I do not get the copy machine reference, and number two, what was this person thinking?

Please, please, please keep personal notations off your resume. Example: “Marital Status: Engaged, but actively considering new prospects.” “Hobbies: cooking when I have nothing to do, dancing when I go out to have fun, cleaning also when I have nothing to do.” “Interests: Making money so I can move out of my parent’s house” “Interests: eating at fancy restaurants”

You will not engage a recruiter or hiring manager by including any of the above tactics. You will have the interview to showcase your personality and flair. Interviewers will more often than not ask you about your interests and what you like to do in your spare time. Stick to your professional accomplishments and you will get the interview. Lastly, the old rule of keeping your resume one page doesn’t exist anymore. After all, it usually takes more than one page to document all your successes!