EXPERT RECRUITERS SHARE TOP ADVICE FOR JOB SEEKERS
To help you build the "Perfect Resume Template" we've enlisted the help of some of the top recruiters from around the U.S. to chime in and share some of their expertise on the "Best" and "Worst" things they've seen in resumes. This info is worth its weight in gold, so pay attention here. This is the grand finale that concludes the "Resume Writing for Today - The Perfect Resume Template" blog article series from the last four week, where we've covered:
- Part I: Keyword research
- Part II: Data-driven Job Seeker & Job Search Funnel
- Part III: Professional Summary, Tagline & Unforgettable Personal Branding
- Part IV: Success Statements & Getting Recruiters to Pursue You!
I've then put the most consistent "Gold Nuggets" into "The Perfect Resume BLUEPRINT" guide that you can download for FREE by signing up for the "Resume Revive + Thrive" CHALLENGE. This quick-start guide will help you improve your existing resume quickly.
Now, grab your pencil and start taking some notes. This is going to be gooooooood! Giddyup! Let's get started with the expert recruiter round-up!
Lisa Gibello is Vice President, Creative Recruiting at The Creative Group (Part of Robert Half Intl.) and partners with top design agencies and tech companies to place industry leading creative candidates. Connect with Lisa on LinkedIn.
"Best: A good resume tells a good story. Most candidates think a resume is a list of employment - places you worked, dates and what you did. The best resumes engage me emotionally and tell me about YOU, not just where you worked. Engage me with a brief but emotional opening - we are human after all. Bring me into your world and tell me a little about you in a brief overview. I also think the best resumes tell me about you are as a person - are you funny? a team leader? good writer? part of any affiliations? play an instrument? Separate your areas of expertise from your technical skills - most people lump these all together and they offer different values depending on the role. I also think design is key - be creative in your formatting. Use a side bar to list skills, tools, achievements, education, and interests. Please don't make me read paragraphs either - we won't and don't have time. Use bullets, strong action words and be concise. If you can do all this on one page you are the ideal job seeker in my world. I always say people interview based on what you've done, they hire you based on who you are."
Worst: "Nothing is a bigger turn-off and illustration of what kind of employee you would be than sloppiness. Take the time to do a resume right and use the tools you have access to. Different fonts, spelling errors and lack of formatting are not acceptable. Also remember this is a job, not a date so please don't tell me how you like hiking, biking, and cooking. I really don't care and we're not going to hang out on the weekend, we're going to work together. Don't show up to an interview without your resume - that's just poor judgment or bad assumption that I already have it."
David Sterenfeld places ONLY software sales & sales management talent in the Rockies, Pacific NW and California and has worked with many candidates their entire career. He founded his search firm - Corporate Dynamix - in 1992 and has personally placed 1800 candidates. Learn more at cdynamix.com.
Best: "The ideal resume will show a progressive work history with proven performance metrics. President’s Club Awards, % sales above quota, #1 Sales Executive, Top 1% of all new AE’s in starting class, grew sales pipeline from $0 to $4M in first year, etc. This is the time to brag about your achievements and paint a picture of yourself as a winner and team player. Be specific; don’t just state that you “exceeded quota year-very-year,” but instead state “2015: 115% of annual quota / 2016: 122% of annual quota, et cetera.
When you are at the start of your career, your resume should reflect leadership and interests that you had in college and in your community. A candidate looking for a sales role looks that much stronger if they earned a degree in a challenging major while playing college athletics or doing some strong philanthropy. It helps to portray you as disciplined, hard-working, and competitive, yet also a team player – important qualities that employers want."
Worst: "This may sound like a bad television plot, but I’ve handled resumes where the majority of the work history, salary information, and references are all phony! Candidates have listed phony start-up companies, that may even have a basic website and answering service attached, however upon digging deep, the company address does not exist or there are no employees. I’ve become wary that when a resume seems too fantastic to be true… it just may not be! Background checks and blind references occur in practically every hiring scenario, so the astute recruiter/manager will expose any lies.
The absence of a LinkedIn profile is a red flag in our business, as LinkedIn is still a benchmark for business social media and one which recruiters AND employers use religiously. It is very difficult to insert an exaggerated or fictitious work history into your LinkedIn profile, and I always compare a candidate’s current resume to their LI profile for consistency. In today’s Sales 2.0 climate, employers fully expect a candidate to have a strong LinkedIn presence, so the absence of one is very bad."
Raegan Hill is President at Raegan Hill Group and helps companies find hard-to-find marketers. Follow Raegan on LinkedIn.
1. Get Strengths Finder 2.0, a strengths assessment book on Amazon and put the assessment results on your resume. You will take the test using the "code" from the back of the $15 book. Take the assessment and add this to your resume: a) put your top 5 strengths on your resume b) a download link to the Strengths Finder website for hiring managers or recruiters who aren't familiar with it and c) a download link to your actual Strengths Finder PDF results (put it on Dropbox and then you can get a shareable link) | Download Strengths Finder Sample images (A), (B), (C), (.jpgs). | Reason: Separates you from so many others who don't do this and humanizes your resume. Recruiters are innately curious about people and will love being able to click on the assessment. The exercise also gives you insights into who you are and you can speak to those strengths in an interview as they relate to the open position.
2. Stop stressing about how many pages your resume is. My son had a 2-page resume right out of college because he had enough worthy content to justify 2 pages. People are so focused on this that they will squish 2 pages of information on to 1 page. That's not a 1-page resume. That's a 2-pager squished onto one page and it's very uncomfortable to read, making your chances of getting an interview even harder. It's not about the length of the resume; it's about the quality of the information/content on your resume.
3. You need a Summary. Unless you're a world renown heart surgeon at MD Anderson where everyone knows you're amazing and what you do, you need a Summary. Period. Skip this and you are giving the reader permission to make assumptions on who you are and what you want. Many professionals have multiple job titles throughout their career. Without a summary, if you apply to my position and I don't have a summary, how am I to know if this is really a job you were interested in versus one you're just applying to (for example) to satisfy your unemployment requirements of applying to a certain number of positions per month? The summary is your chance to place the reader into the perception you want them to see you in. Example: I have a Communications Specialist who wants to become a Recruiter. She's been applying to Recruiter jobs and not getting any interviews. Her skills are transferable, but the hiring managers are confused. Why is a Communications professional applying to a Recruiter job? Unless you state your intention, value, and what you bring to the table in your Summary, your reader will be guessing - that's not good.
4. Cover Letters DO work. - IF you use the right kind. My Cover Letter article has been viewed over 21,000 on LinkedIn and it's ranked #1 or #2 on Google. It comes with a template in word. It's called, "The Cover Letter That Will Land You the Interview." The reason most don't get read is because they are copied and pasted from one job to another with no customization, and they're too wordy and not written in a way that helps the hiring manager or recruiter gain faster clarity on whether or not your experience will solve their problem by hiring you. I have interviewed candidates whose resume was very very average but when I read their cover letter and their passion, or they used the above cover letter, they got my attention.
5. Always put a small blurb under the company name about what the company does. Can be size 9 font, dark gray, italicized. Many companies hire people who have similar industry experience (i.e., if it's a start up, they want someone who has worked at a start up, if it's a B2B technology company, they want someone who has worked in B2B technology, if it's global company, they want someone who has worked in a global company). 90% of my positions are like this. This is the biggest mistake candidates make on their resume. My article on LI: "The Biggest Mistake You're Making on Your Resume."
Krista is an Executive Recruiter at Quest Groups LLC and connects hand-selected talent with emerging companies. Follow Krista on LinkedIn.
Best: "The best thing I've seen from a resume would be measurable results. Employers want to see workers who can achieve solid results. For example, how many direct reports do you have? By what percentage did you increase sales or efficiency? How much of a budget did you work with, with what type of results? Putting a number on your accomplishments is a sure way of conveying results and impressing the hiring manager."
Worst: "Photos- Putting a photo on your resume gives people the opportunity to judge you by your looks, your hairstyle, and your fashion sense, rather than your professional credentials."
Kevin is co-founder of Startup Talent Consulting and believes a company sells two products - their core offering, and employee brand. They will optimize your employee brand for company success. Contact Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best: "Business Impact. I like it when candidates describe how their work impacted the company. This can be described in metrics, but spelling it out concisely gets noticed."
Worst: "Taking your job description and dumping onto your resume. It shows you spent very little time on your resume and the tense is almost always off. Honorable mention to formatting, keep it consistent."
Joanne (Huang) Mueller is a contract recruiter for Amazon's AWS. Connect with Joanne on LinkedIn.
Best: "Github links to projects that they have contributed or tech projects that they have worked on out of a personal interest."
Worst: "Typos in resumes especially if they claim to be detail oriented."
Arielle Yoon recruits for Project Manager and Business Analyst positions at Kforce. Follow Arielle on LinkedIn.
Best: "I’ve found that resumes that speak to the candidate’s specific impact that he or she owned are well received by hiring managers. There are a lot of resumes that list generic duties of a [insert job title] so that doesn’t really make you stand out. Listing, for example for project managers, what the specific project was, the budget, and the difference he or her made on the candidate."
Worst: "The worst resumes I see are resumes that seem like the person didn’t even read through their own resume. There is inconsistent formatting, inconsistent fonts, etc. - which gives the manager the impression that candidate doesn’t care. I recommend having a friend read through your resume for a second opinion."
Toni Bubb, is a Recruiter for Raegan Hill Group – Career Agent for highly sought after mid to executive level marketers and digital marketers nationwide. Follow Toni on LinkedIn.
Best: "I had a marketing candidate recently put her portfolio into a video presentation with music, in addition to her resume. That was the best thing I have seen because she took the time to do something that was unique and different yet, still relevant in her field of work.
When it comes to the "best" resume, they are far and few between... I like it to be a clean, simple format that is easy to read. No fancy fonts, or multiple colors. I look for someone who has a good, unique summary-- I don't want to see the same generic words used like, "I'm a multi-tasker, detail-oriented, blah, blah, blah." Also, it's 2017, use freaking Google, Yahoo, or search engine of your preference and find a template. Research what kind of verbiage you should use and NOT use in a resume. Use bullet points, lines, and spaces to break things up, keep bullet points 1-2 sentences long, use the correct tenses. If you want to "wow" any recruiter with your resume, do your homework, and do it right, so we don't have to fix the entire thing for you. It's that simple."
Worst: (The worst candidate encountered) "I called a guy up to talk to him about an open position, and I asked him about something he did on his resume. His response is, "it's on my resume isn't it?" I ask him another question about his responsibilities at a certain company and he replies, "it's on my resume isn't it." I tell him that I understand it's on his resume but, I'm just trying to learn more about what you did in each role, and he hung up on me."
Arel Oran is a strategic and dedicated full-service independent recruiter with a passion for sourcing exceptional and diverse talent. Follow her @arel_oran.
Best: "The best thing I've seen from a resume would be measurable results. Whether the marketing candidate increased leads by 200% or generated additional business by increasing SQLs which turned into closed deals. It is very important to include these metrics and not simply the generic responsibilities under a job title. Metrics help individuals stand out. Since hiring managers typically spend 4 seconds or less on a resume, numbers draw their attention."
Worst: "Awkward photos or unprofessionally cropped photos where you can still see the shoulders of someone else. I always encourage applicants to save the headshot for your LinkedIn profile.
Formatting errors. Save your resume as a PDF that opens consistently across different platforms (mobile, PC, apple etc.). I am always hesitant when the file opens with some of the lines off centered or dates misplaced. Send your resume to a few friends to ensure compatibility."
Erin O'Brien is a Recruiting Consultant for Charter Communications/Spectrum Enterprise. Follow Erin on LinkedIn.
Best: "Should be able to clearly see where you worked, for how long, and what YOUR role was while in that position. Don’t’ get too fancy or unique. The days of needing to stand out in a pile of paper are gone… everything is electronic and all Word / PDF docs look the same in a folder!
- Tools/applications they’ve used in their roles/career
- Proper formatting and attractive, most recent on top, consistent font/margins, company, start/end dates, etc
- A brief summary of what they’ve done as it relates to what they are looking for
- Bullets, clear bullets – no run-on sentences or paragraph bullets
- Contact Info – city location at least, with phone/email"
Worst: "Do not like when they format by skill set rather than position. If I’m looking for someone with 5+ years of PM experience, and you have your resume broken down to Project Management exp, Business Analyst exp., Customer Service exp. It’s hard to tell how long you’ve done the skill set I’m looking for. Best to keep it chronological and job/company specific.
- Paragraph formatting/story telling
- Anything over 4 pages – even a seasoned 30+ year professional can keep it to 2-3 pages
- Sloppy, unmatched font, sloppy margins, typos, etc.
- No Detail… can’t see what you’ve done if you don’t list anything down
- No contact info
- Too unique of a format… makes it hard to find what I look for if I have to search around your resume to understand what I’m reading"
Stacie Puma Lisa is a Senior Recruiter specializing in sales recruiting in the cloud computing, data storage and security software space at Rubrik Inc. Follow Stacie on LinkedIn.
Recruiters possess a wealth of knowledge, and while their primary objective is to fill a role for a client with a well-qualified candidate, they are an invaluable resource to help candidates best position their experience resulting in a stronger candidate. While each recruiter may have certain unique preferences, as you have read, there are some undeniable consistent themes that all recruiters consider important.
The most important being to proof and spell check your resume and watch out for formatting errors. If your resume is error-free and visually appealing, you are already well ahead of the competition. Next, provide specific, measurable and quantified metrics that detail business impact; how you improved the business. Did you drive revenue? Time savings? Or cost savings? It's always advisable to use SMART principles here. Lastly, clearly articulate your career arc and be specific. Don't use generic responsibility language. Use the business terms specific to your business. This separates you from the masses and has the additional benefit of using keywords that recruiters could be using in their candidate searches. Lastly, never hesitate to ask a recruiter how you can improve your resume, as we've seen here, they are professionals with a wealth of knowledge.
Just about everyone I speak with says something along the lines of "I need to update my resume," or "I'm embarrassed by my LinkedIn Profile." Well, you don't have to be and it takes only a few minutes of action to get the ball rolling to greatly improve both of these job seeking tools.
If this article has been a helpful jumpstart, you might want to consider advancing to the next step and taking the"Resume Revive + Thrive CHALLENGE" and downloading the "Perfect Resume BLUEPRINT guide," which was created as a companion resource and is the easiest way to quickly update and improve your resume. You'll also get a professional resume template (PDF) that you can use as a foundation upon which to build your own greatly improved, search engine-friendly resume. Regardless of your approach, you now have everything you need to improve your resume and position yourself as an all-around stronger candidate. Happy job hunting!