5 Things That Will Get Your Resume Read

There is a lot of advice out there regarding résumés, both on campus and off.  I’ve seen a lot of résumés during my 10 years in the profession and have heard my fair share of complaints and critiques from recruiters, hiring managers and career services.  As most students have returned to campus for the fall semester, I thought it would be good to revisit some of the things that could get your résumé noticed in a good way.  It’s one thing for your résumé to be different; another to be good.

For more Résumé Essentials, click here.

I’ll never rip apart someone’s résumé, offering my two cents as an industry professional.  Why?  That person probably worked hard to create or update their résumé.  You see, most are good.  In today’s market, good isn’t good enough anymore.  So I’d like to focus on taking your résumé from good to great.

Here are five things that can help get your résumé noticed by a recruiter or hiring manager:

Format.  There are thousands of free templates out there for you to use.  Research sample résumés for the industry you’re interested in (there are differences) and tweak your format as needed.  My boss said something to me recently that resonated well.  She said, “Don’t put yourself into a box if you don’t have to.”  Now, she was referring to something else, but it translates well here.  Feel free to edit sections and headers to fit your purpose.  If you don’t have “work experience” think about other types of experience, such as leadership experience, volunteer experience, etc.  Keep your résumé in a format that is consistent with industry norms.  In a world where everyone has to be different, you might be thinking this is bad advice.  Trust me, it isn’t.  If your résumé is easy to follow and has the right KPIs (Key Performance Indicators,) it can take you a long way.

Fun fact: A simple Google search for “great résumés” returns over 590 million results!

Quantification.  One thing that I see that is consistently lacking on most résumés is quantification.  I don’t want to see your job description, duties, or applied skills.  I want to see accomplishments, leadership, and results.  All too often, candidates focus on their current job duties versus what they’re actually doing or did in that position.  Here’s an example: You might see “responsible for supervising shift employees.”  As a reader, I don’t get much information from that statement.  Rather than the generic statement, focus on things like HOW MANY people you supervised/trained.  WHAT was the OUTCOME of your customer service?

Results.  Your results can’t speak for themselves if you don’t give them a voice.  What I mean by that is that you can’t expect the reader aka recruiter to know what you’ve accomplished with a generic statement.  Focus on the WHAT.  What was the IMPACT?  Did you increase sales or participation?  If so, by how much? ?  Numbers and percentages speak volumes here.  Don’t be afraid to toot your horn a little!

Leadership.   What sets you apart from the competition?  How are you any different than the thousands of applicants companies receive on a daily basis?  Think about those two questions.  Have an answer?  I do.  It’s all about leadership!  Are you leading a team?  If so, how?  What are you doing as a leader?  Do you learn from failure as well as success?  Recruiters today are looking for leadership qualities as they seek top talent.  Involvement in athletics, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church groups, SIFE, military, etc. can show that you are dedicated, work well with a team as well as on your own, can make on-the-spot decisions in challenging situations, and can communicate this effectively to your team and superiors.

Want to know what to leave OFF your résumé? Click here for the top five.

Relevance.  The age-old dilemma: how many pages should my résumé be?  Ask this one question and you’ll get a variety of answers, depending on who you ask!  Personally, I think that if you have less than 10 years of experience, one page is more than enough space.  Remember, it’s all about relevant experience, not everything you’ve ever done in your entire life (remove things like high school education, irrelevant coursework, etc. to make some room.)  Keep in mind that thousands of résumés come across the desks of recruiters.  They don’t have a lot of time to read your entire life’s history.  In fact, the average recruiter skims a typical resume in six seconds.  Will yours get a second look?  What about Page 2?

My last piece of advice is this:  Your résumé is a living document.  Keep it updated as you gain new experience.  It’s a good practice to revisit your résumé every six months just to keep the content relevant and fresh (even if you’re not looking for a new job.)  You can never be too prepared, right?

Did I leave anything out?  Something you’d like to add?  This is YOUR chance!  I welcome your insight, feedback and opinion.  Please leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.  As always, thanks for reading.


6 thoughts on “5 Things That Will Get Your Resume Read

  1. Always a great read, Kirk!

    One element that has always attracted recruiters to my resume was the international experience. Most of them wanted to know more about my international experiences (leadership, communication barriers, challenges etc.) If you have ANY international experience (internships, vounteer efforts, study abroad etc.)-be sure to highlight it.



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