I’ve recently attended several workshops and sought advice from many around developing a resume. I’m sure that I haven’t yet completed that exercise as I’ll always be seeking ways of improving the presentation and, in particular, customizing each resume for the specific job — always trying to connect with the hiring manager after getting through the hurdles of machine sorting and recruiter vetting. Here’s my journey and what I’ve learned so far in this particular PathForeWord.
Below I’ve created a short slide show showing at a glance the evolution of my resume so far. The beginning image is the long form resume that I originally developed some years ago. It covers my work history in-depth and runs up to five pages. The next image is the resume that emerged from my work with an outplacement firm. I used one of their online tools to craft my very first accomplishments or functional based resume. I was quite pleased with this effort and was roundly congratulated on my work by the outplacement firm.
The next image retains the accomplishment/functional format but moves into bullet points. This came about based on feedback at the Southlake Career Transition Workshop. You can see that it is much easier to read and a great deal more inviting to read rather than the text heavy previous version.
The next version, and final for this slide show but by no means final effort, is the result of attending the day-long Frisco Career Transition Workshop. Here’s their workbook’s comment about resume format —
The chronological format is king. If your resume is on the job boards in a functional format, it is equivalent to having the steering wheel of a car on the right side… in the back seat.
The reason for some of this formatting is to get through the machine scanners and to the recruiter.
Once with the recruiter, if you’re fortunate enough to get your resume in front of the recruiter, they will be spending roughly six seconds with each resume. Oh my goodness! It doesn’t sound like much time does it? All of which means you need to better understand how to reach that recruiter with your message. The folks at the Frisco Career Transition Workshop shared some “gaze trace analysis” on where the recruiter spends their time with the resume. I’ve attempted to provide a limited glimpse into that research below.
I’ve placed boxes over the three places they felt were the most critical. The top of the resume looking at your objective/summary, the most recent chronological position, and on education, typically at the bottom of the final page of the resume. There were a few other key items in their research, mostly around recent positions, but these seem to me like the big ones. They essentially identify the key real estate on your resume.
Given all this feedback, I was beginning to reel from all the feedback, sometimes conflicting. At that point one of my fellow job seekers offered to provide her perspective. She’s an HR Director with considerable experience reviewing resumes and making hiring recommendations and decisions. Her first criteria for our coaching session was to bring along a job posting as well as the resume that I’d forward for that job. So, she was bringing the resume review into the true context of the job search.
She first went through the job posting, highlighting all the key items for that position. She then noted that first the title of the resume needs to reflect the title of the position. Then, all key words and accomplishments need to be focused on the key items for that position. The other accomplishments, though of considerable interest to you, are really not of interest to the recruiter. After all, they have only six seconds to place your resume in the stack for further consideration!
This might be tough medicine to swallow for most of us. But, it is right on the mark. The hallmark of any worthwhile communication program is its laser focus on the audience. With your resume, the audience is first the scanning machine and software, then the recruiter, and finally the hiring manager. All three are looking for key words and matching accomplishments. Of further keen interest is that the first two in this sequence have a list of the key words but don’t necessarily know their meaning. Nor would they be able to pick out otherwise applicable experience from your resume. This means you have to hit those same keywords or get tossed. The good news — the key words are in their job description.
This topic could well continue into all sorts of areas within the resume itself and particularly into cover letters. However, this is just a brief intro into this important career topic. You’ll need to seek out more detailed career insight from those experts who are much closer to this topic. I recommend you try out your local transition workshops and job networking groups. From there you can find connections that can give you personal attention and help you better understand what you need to do to connect with your next career adventure.
From all this you can see that my own PathForeWord will involve even more wholesale modification of my basic resume along with laser focus revisions for each position. I wish you well in your own journey and hope this has helped.
You can download these tips in a PDF document by clicking on the cover image on the right.