|Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Bestseller
35 Years in
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. Your resume needs to be succinct and focused on a specific target job
3. Your resume needs to be visually accessible and readable
Resumes: Focus and Data-Density
When recruiters search resume databanks, 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.
Unless your resume is properly focused on a target job, describing it in the ways that employers have defined that job, it is unlikely to make it high enough in the search results to be reviewed.
Recruiters don’t have the time or patience to read a War and Peace–length saga of your employment history; they just want someone who can fill this job now so they can move on to the next assignment. In order to pass the scan test, your resume needs to address a target job and clearly demonstrate your fit; you achieve this by understandingyour 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 However, this is long-outdated advice, and if you need a second page to tell a data-dense story, feel free.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 newfound 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 You have more to say than the recent graduate of 35 years ago (when this now outdated rule first became the norm).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.
This gives you two options: play by out-of-date rules, keep to one page, and never get interviews; or write a data-dense resume, packed with the keywords that will get it pulled from the resume databases for review. Suppose you take the latter course. Your data-dense resume soars up the list and reaches the recruiter’s eyes. Do you think for one moment that a hiring manager will say to herself “What a shame. This guy is my dream candidate. If only I didn’t have to throw his resume away because it spills over onto a second page”? Of course not. The one-page rule is just as outdated as it sounds.
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 TJD , and a 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.
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