Getting Your Resume Noticed

There are a lot of blogs filled with horrible advice for job seekers out there – this article on resume writing by Kerry Hannon is not one of them.  So, rather than recreate the wheel I thought I would summarize and comment on this very helpful article.  You can read the full article here, at Forbes personal finance blog, and then read my comments below.

One thing that the article does not mention that is critical for a successful resume is to list accomplishments as opposed to tasks.  Here is what I mean…

AVOID: Listing your day-to-day tasks and responsibilities – for example:

  • Researched breaks on aged swap payments to determine the cause for each.
  • Prepared and analyzed daily reports
  • Communicated with clients

INSTEAD: Detail an accomplishment that explicitly informs the tasks and technical abilities you have – for example:

  • Extremely productive in risk reduction: reduced breaks from more than 6,000 to less than 100, completing the project ahead of target date
  • Designed and implemented new daily reporting schematic which provided management with a wider range of critical information 2 hours earlier
  • Provided critical information to over 4,000 clients

The truth of the matter is that managers want people who get things done.  The world is full of people who do things with little eye on the result.  By listing your accomplishments you will stand out and be noticed.  Having your resume stand out and be noticeable is the point of having a resume.  If you are responding to a job posting, it is likely that hundreds of other people are responding as well.  If your resume does not stand out it will be lost in the sea of job seekers vying for the same few positions.  In fact, as the Forbes article points out nicely, the great probability is that your resume will first be screened by a junior person who knows little about the job you are applying for and is looking for three or four specific items.

Ms. Hannon provides some excellent resume advice in her article – here are some key points that are frequently overlooked, yet are essential to a quality resume:

Keep it short and simple – Managers are looking for a traditional resume in reverse chronological order.  Leave out the long summary and objectives.  Managers don’t care about that.  They want to be able to quickly determine if you have the necessary skills and background to meet the requirements of their opening.  Everything else is superfluous.   By no means should your resume be longer than two pages.

Remember your audience – A junior recruiter will most likely be the first person to screen your resume.  For that reason avoid complex and confusing descriptions of your accomplishments.  Make sure it is understandable to all and that people can quickly find the most relevant information on your resume.

Provide complete job information – Clearly state the complete name of the company, a BRIEF statement about what the company does, and how long you were there (with the month and year).  This last bit is important and when missing makes people wonder if you have a jumpy resume.  A resume that states ‘2009 – 2010’ could be ‘December 2009 to January 2010’ or ‘January 2009 to December 2010.’ An employer will assume the worst.

Be memorable – People remember facts, numbers, statistics and percentages.  Make your resume stand out by using these details to describe your accomplishments in statements like, “Reduced error rates by 37%.”

These are the key points that I share with everyone looking for resume advice.  In fact, we frequently ask our candidates to rewrite their resumes according to these guidelines before sending them on to our clients.

I am curious to hear what you have found to be effective when it comes to resumes.  Particularly, what have recruiters and hiring managers noticed about your resume?  Please let me know in the comments section below.

Until next time,

Peter Laughter
Wall Street Services