As a career development specialist at MIT, Lily Zhang has learned some “hard truths” about resumes and how they’re treated by recruiters and companies. In a great Daily Muse post titled “5 Things People Reading Your Resume Wish You Knew,” she shares some of these secrets, offering terrific advice on how to increase your chances of getting past the initial screeners, getting noticed by the right people, and landing an interview. Read on to see what she suggests.
1. Keep It Simple — Creativity is a wonderful thing, but not when it comes to resume formatting. The idea is to present your information in a simple, straightforward way, and Zhang advocates using your time to “maximize the top half of your resume.” That means writing a strong summary and outlining all of your most relevant experience right at the top. Everything else can go into an “additional experience” section. “It’s understandable to want to make your resume stand out a bit from the typical resume,” Zhang writes, “but getting creative in InDesign isn’t the way to do it.”
2. Tell ‘Em Why You’re Applying — It won’t always be clear from your experience what in the heck you’re doing applying a job. One way around this is to explain yourself in the objective statement. If you’re looking to parlay skills you’ve learned from one industry into a career in a new one, say so. As Zhang writes, “if a recruiter’s initial reaction to your resume is confusion, you’re not going to get very far.”
3. Assist the Skimmers — It’s entirely possible the first person who sees your resume will do little more than skim. Make it easy on this person, and they might pass it along. How do you do that? Don’t make the font too small. Keep the whole thing on one page. Don’t let bullet points drag on to third lines.
4. Lose the Jargon — It’s likely HR will see your resume before passing in to hiring managers, so you’ve got to make sure these folks know what you’re talking about. If you work in a field with lots of jargon and tech-speak, leave it out. “Use the job posting to your advantage here—find the keywords and present your work the same way they do,” Zhang writes.
5. Check the Contact Info — Making a typo anywhere on your resume is bad, but be extra mindful of your contact info. If the hiring manager can’t get in touch with you, you’re cooked.