An article has been going around the office for a while now about how recruiters look through a resume and it got me thinking about best practices for resumes.  If you haven’t seen the research yet, you should take a look.

The interesting part for me was the amount of time recruiters spent reviewing a resume to determine if you’re good enough for a closer look.  “Most job seekers think recruiters spend 4 to 5 minutes reviewing a resume. The truth: recruiters spend about 6 seconds before they make the initial “fit/no fit” decision.”

Six seconds, that’s all you have to persuade one of us that you may have the skills to do the job.  Whether it’s a recruiter at a firm like ours or HR in an organization, we simply don’t have the time to waste on people that don’t fit.  Fair or not, if you don’t make it past this first hurdle, you won’t be moving on to the phone interview.  It’s worth the time to get it right.

I can’t tell you how many poorly written and poorly laid out resumes we see on a daily basis (seriously, some of them would make you cry instead of laugh).  In the self-interest of helping recruiters and HR everywhere, let me list a few of the things I consider most important to take to heart when reviewing your resume for another round of job hunting:

  • Customize your summary – First off, if you don’t have a summary, create one (short and sweet).  Second, customize it to the position you’re applying for, call out what skills/experience you have that relates to the job you’re going after.
  • Make it easy to read – Don’t use crazy fonts or different colors, use bullet points instead of long paragraphs, and please no distracting pictures.
  • Accomplishments over responsibilities – What have you done in your positions?  What are you most proud of?  Anyone can be responsible for things, only some can successfully deliver results, show it off!

This is obviously not an extensive or exhaustive list of resume do’s and don’ts, but I hope it helps someone out there.  Remember, resumes get your foot in the door and a little time spent getting it right will open up many more doors down the road.