The topic of getting your resume reviewed by hiring managers/recruiters is a popular one. With so many people looking for work in today’s economy, the ability to get the edge over other candidates has never been higher. Depending on the position, a recruiter/hiring manager can receive hundreds of resumes to review. That is just for one position. Any recruiter worth their salt is not actively working on just one opening. There is unfortunately not enough hours in the day to give each individual resume the time they deserve to be reviewed. As a candidate you need to do your part to make sure you are getting your resume to the front of the line. Here are 5 ways to help in that process:
1) Use specific keywords from job postings:
Studies have shown that recruiters take on average 6 seconds to view resumes. I personally do not time myself, but I would have to agree with this. Depending on the recruiters workload and amount of resumes they have received, they do not have much time to go through every resume with a fine-tooth comb.
We are looking for the keywords that stand out as it pertains to our job description. As a result you should make sure those keywords are made perfectly clear on your resume. If you’re applying for a job that requires Java, Python and C++, these skills should not be nestled somewhere deep in your resume. Under your “technical skills” section they should be one of the first few bullet points. Read the job description thoroughly; recruiters and hiring managers will tell you which skills are necessary to be qualified for their openings. Make sure your resume reflects that.
2. Direct recruiter/hiring manager submittals:
Applying through career websites and portals are nice. However, if you really want to get your resume noticed you need to get it in the hand of the hiring manager or recruiter hiring for that position. For smaller companies this is much easier, for larger companies it can be difficult.
One easy way is to go onto Data.com. This is a site that users are able to share contact information from specific companies. Even if you can’t find the person you are looking for, you can still find the email set up for a company. For example if you can’t find your specific targets email but you see other people in the company have emails set up as “FirstName.LastName@company.com” you can assume that your targets email is the same.
For larger companies this may be a little more difficult. A quick call into the company saying “Hi do you have this persons email address? They asked that I send them some information however I misplaced it” will do the trick. Most receptionists don’t think twice about giving out emails because it isn’t as intrusive. Direct contact with the hiring manager or recruiter will get your resume a closer look than applying with the masses.
3. Cover letter done correctly:
Personally I do not believe in cover letters. I find them to be more of ramblings over anything productive.
The only time I would recommend a cover letter is if you have to explain something noticeable on your resume. Maybe you are relocating to a specific area already and just need a job. This will help the company understand you are not looking for relocation assistance, just looking for a position local to where you are moving. But using a cover letter just to use one has never been something I support. However if you feel you must use one please tailor it to the position and the company. Do your research on the company and explain how your skills integrate with the work they do.
The reason I am so anti-cover letter is because I find candidates are sending the same letter to every position they apply to. Sure it will give me a little more info to your background, but my position and my competitor’s position are different. Copying and pasting the same cover letter just becomes white noise eventually. So take the time and make sure the letter fully explains how your background benefits this specific position.
4. Avoid cliché words:
This subject can be a difficult one because everyone you speak to who is hiring will have a different opinion about this. A quick Google search of “words to avoid on resume” brings up over 54 million results. So to say the least this a widely debated topic. However there is an overwhelming notion that cliché words on resumes are becoming overdone. Phrases like “Highly qualified”, “results focused”, effectual leader” etc. are becoming more fluff than anything else. There is a lot of truth to that.
Remember the 6 seconds recruiters are giving resumes? You need to get to the point immediately. If you are results focused, give live examples to drive that point home. Highly qualified? Tell me why. As a recruiter I want to see tangible results or evidence not just fluff phrases.
5. Brag, brag, brag:
Your resume is not a time to be humble. You are trying to make a quick impression on someone you have never met before. Humility will not work in your favor. You need to let that person know they are getting an A+ candidate and they need to hire you. Won awards, finishing tops in your class, big promotions; whatever it may be now is your time to let this person know.
For me when I was interviewing, outside of my career accomplishments, I added that I was an active recruitment blogger. I wanted my future employer to know I am not just in recruiting for the 9-5, that I am passionate about the industry and that passion results in a stronger work ethic. You have to look at your resume as the time to show the person who is viewing it how awesome you really are.
Good luck in your career search. If you are struggling to find that next job, all of these tips will help you get to that next step in your career. But ultimately, what it really comes down to is your persistence. Keep plugging away every day, build your network and connect with those who are hiring in your market. The more well connected you are and the harder you work, the better your chances are at landing that next position.