Will your resume make an immediate impression? It better. Recruiters spend just six seconds vetting a resume. That’s all you have: six seconds to get their attention and make them want to learn more about you as a potential job candidate. If your resume can’t pass the six-second test, keep reading.
As we transition into 2023, the quality of your resume matters more than ever. Not only are recruiters in a hurry as they peruse thousands of resumes, but companies are using software to scan these documents too, to help them find likely candidates quickly and cheaply. Recruiters and employers are much pickier about resumes now too: Only 2 percent of job applicants actually get an interview. Add to that the stiff competition for some of the best jobs and the new role of social media, and you can see that today’s resume has a lot more riding on it compared to those of the past.
To make sure your resume is keeping up, review our lists of 11 dos and four don’ts below.
The Dos: 11 Ways to Improve Your Resume
To keep your resume current, be sure to follow this advice:
- Put the most important information first. Anyone scanning your resume will start at the top but won’t keep reading (or scanning) unless the information at the top is intriguing.
- Swap out your “objective” to pitch why you’re the best person for the job instead. Your resume is your sales tool. You’re using it to sell yourself as a potential candidate and get an interview.
- Focus on your results, not your responsibilities. Do you have numbers or other proof points? Did you win an award or other recognition for an accomplishment? Include specific data about your performance at past jobs.
- Use a title that matches the position you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a job as an AWS solutions architect, use that with your name instead of something generic like “IT Professional.”
- Polish your LinkedIn profile and photo, and include the link in your contact information. Almost all recruiters (96 percent) use social media to look for qualified candidates, with LinkedIn used by 87 percent. Although they are using social media to look for candidates, chances are they will also turn to social media to learn more about someone who has applied.
- Only include relevant experience. Anyone looking at your resume is scanning, not reading, and you must make sure all the information you include is relevant so they keep scanning.
- Include your certifications. For example, if you are a certified data scientist, mentioning it in your resume can boost your credibility.
- Include your soft skills. Although we’re living through a time of digital transformation, soft skills are still needed—of not more important than ever. Yet it can be tricky to describe yourself as a good communicator and team player without sounding cliché. Find ways to convey this information in your descriptions instead, following the advice here.
- Include keywords. Using keywords relevant to the job will help scanners, but this will also help you when your resume is scanned by software, not humans. Many enterprises now opt for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) for their initial screening round. Monster offers useful advice for using keywords here.
- Clean up your contact information. Use a formal email address, even if you have a silly one that you typically use. Include one phone number and a link to your LinkedIn profile. Some advice says you don’t need to include your street address.
- Pay attention to design. In some industries, it’s now acceptable to create visually creative resumes like infographics, but you don’t have to go that far—and most employers want a traditional resume anyway, even in creative fields. You can create a visually appealing resume using type alone. Use a mix of bullet lists and paragraphs, include plenty of white space, and sparingly add in bold and italic type for a document that’s easy to scan and professional in appearance.
The Don’ts: Four Things to Leave Out
In addition to the ways to improve your resume, also follow this advice for what to leave out:
- Leave out personal information such as your height, weight, date of birth, marital status, hobbies, and religion. It’s just clutter.
- Avoid including details about work experiences which are not related to your current role or the role you’re seeking. For example, you may have started out as a cook, but now work in IT. Mentioning your cooking experience adds clutter but not credibility.
- Also, leave out your outdated skills. For example, saying that you are proficient in Visual FoxPro will not impress the recruiter. Instead, enroll for courses on the latest technologies from renowned training institutes and show it off on your resume.
- Leave out the errors! Make sure your grammar and spelling are correct and check of typos—even two periods where there should be one. Your resume is your first impression, so it must be error-free. More than 60 percent of recruiters disqualify a candidate if their resume contains a typo. Read it several times, and have someone else proofread it for you too.
Finally, stay current—in your skills, your resume, and your LinkedIn profile. Including out-of-date information makes it look like you’re stagnant in your career and not attempting to grow. Neglecting to keep up with emerging technologies makes the same negative impression. Keep learning new skills, and keep your resume and social media presence updated as you learn.