Resumes For First-Time Job Seekers

If you want your resume to succeed in today’s world of database-driven recruitment, you have three major considerations:

  1. Your resume needs to be data-dense to be found in database searches
  2. 2. Your resume needs to be succinct and focused on a specific
  3. 3. Your resume needs to be visually accessible and readable

Resumes: Focus and Data-Density

When recruiters search resume data banks, with their millions and tens of millions of resumes, they always have a specific job in mind, so searches always begin with a sequence of keywords from the job description.

Recruiters have endless resumes to choose from, so the first time they see your resume they just give it a quick scan, not a full read. In fact, a recent Ladders.com study estimates that recruiters only need about six seconds to rule your resume in or out.

Resume Length

If you are just out of school, your resume shouldn’t be the length of War and Peace – In order to pass the scan test, your resume needs to address a target job and clearly demonstrate your fit; you achieve this by understanding your customers’ needs. This means your resume needs to be long on information demonstrating your ability to satisfy the employer’s objectives, and short on irrelevancies like your objectives.

You have probably been told that your resume must not exceed one page, and you may well be able to get all the relevant information into that tight space. However, this is long-outdated advice, and if you need a second page to tell a data-dense story, feel free.

There are practical reasons for the new found acceptability of the longer resume. Technology has increased the complexity of all jobs, and in the process created new skills we all need to survive and prosper in the professional world of today. You have more to say than the recent graduate of 35 years ago (when this now outdated rule first became the norm).

Even more importantly, today’s resume databases weight results by keywords of the searcher’s choosing. For example—and using arbitrary numbers—if you employ only five keywords, your resume might end up on page 10 (no recruiter ever makes it to page 10); but if you use twenty keywords, you could end up on the first page. Best of all, when you reuse keywords, each repetition gets counted in the algorithm. So obviously, a longer resume gives you more space to keep hitting and re-hitting those crucial keywords.

Your Resume Must Be Well-Organized

If the first page of your resume is tightly focused and contains a Target Job Title, a Performance Summary or Performance Profile built on the priorities you identified in your Professional Skills/Core Competency section packed with relevant keywords, you will have the reader’s attention by the time he gets halfway down the first page. Your second page will always be read if your first page gives your reader what she’s looking for.

Your Resume Must Be Readable

Of course, there is always the dumb way out: cramming everything up tight and keeping it on one page by reducing the font size to 8. If your heart beats faster at the thought of a one-page resume, it is always within reach, but here’s the problem: staring at computer screens ruins eyesight, and the odds are that anyone in a position to hire you will have difficulty with small fonts, even with their glasses on. Why scupper your candidacy with something so trivial and easily avoidable?

Your Resume Must Be Concise

While length doesn’t matter as much as it used to, you should still make every effort to maintain focus and an “if in doubt, cut it out” editing approach. If you’re having trouble keeping your resume pruned to a manageable length, remember that you can add the deleted information to your more detailed professional networking profile on LinkedIn.

Your Resume in the Future

As your career progresses: the advent of more detailed resumes means that even a first job change could well require a two-page resume. By the time you have ten years’ experience—provided you didn’t spend those ten years sitting on your thumbs—your resume will almost certainly be running to three pages.

Your resume is the probably the single most important document you will ever own.

Invest yourself in learning how to create resumes that deliver the jobs you want. For more advice on how to make your resume work for you, check out Knock Em Dead – Secrets & Strategies For First-Time Job Seekers.

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Knock Em Dead

NY Times Bestselling Author at Knock Em Dead
With 17 books and two optical patents to his name and as someone who last danced with a professional ballet company at age 55, he is clearly one of those who has turned ADHD into a superpower. Martin is also a recovering alcoholic of some years standing, and exchanging one obsessive compulsion for another; he particularly enjoys collecting prohibition-era cocktail shakers.
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