Your resume, no matter how professional, must be able to get by the screener and gatekeepers to get to the hiring manger or decision maker. How to make that happen is something anyone who has or is hunting for a job should be concerned about. Gary Wing is managing partner of the Alexander Technology Group has some suggestions.
One of the most common mistakes I see job seekers make is missing the target audience with their resume. In many cases, your first audience is not the hiring manager, it’s a resume screener.
Higher unemployment means more people are submitting resumes for open positions whether they’re qualified or not. So how does a company sort through this haystack? They need a gatekeeper. Enter the resume screener.
If you’re wondering why your resume isn’t generating interviews, it could be because you aren’t tailoring it to the gatekeeper. The screener’s job is to weed through the resumes and find the candidates who best match the manager-mandated job criteria. It’s not necessarily their goal to determine who is merely capable of performing the role.
So how can you make sure your resume makes the cut? In general you want your resume to follow these general rules of thumb:
Your resume must be flexible. If you simply upload your resume and click send, you’ll be cut for sure. Modify your resume to reflect as many of the listed job criteria as possible.
Your resume must translate well. If you’ve worked in similar settings before, advertise it. Perhaps you’ve supervised the same number of people or worked in a related industry. Your resume needs to highlight these key points.
Your resume must be legible. Format it for easy scanning. Use bullet points, boldface, underline and, where appropriate, always note special achievements such as awards, cost-saving initiatives, revenue generating initiatives and team achievements.
Your resume must be direct. Avoid long paragraphs. Be concise. Include dates of employment. Omission of dates leads to questions about gaps in employment.
Keeping these guidelines in mind, you can then use the following tactics to rewrite your resume with a resume screener in mind:
1. Start with a long version of your resume including everything you’ve done in detail. Include accurate dates, duties, achievements, education, software, vocational skills, etc. Organize them in easy to read bullet points listing the most important ones (for the new position) first.
2. Learn more about the organization and job description. Review the company Web site and use the job description as a guideline. Condense the long version of your resume by including only pertinent items, and rearrange your bullet points to best match criteria.
3. Include an objective or summary paragraph that best fits the specific position. If it’s difficult to describe the position as your ideal role, it’s a good indicator that this may not be the job for you. It’s better to drop this item altogether than be vague or include too many buzzwords.
4. When listing your job history, note the size of your past employers and the marketplace in which they compete. This allows your reader to more easily compare your history with their needs. For example: Dunder Mifflin Inc., Nashua; $175 million regional paper and office supply distributor (NYSE: DMI) with an emphasis on servicing small-business clients. Corporate headquarters in New York City with eight regional offices in the Northeast.
5. Be honest. Aside from misrepresentation as cause for dismissal, omitting months of employment or graduation years lead to questions. You want to provide screeners with answers. If employment gaps are long, discuss in a brief cover letter or list as a bullet point, for example: Company sold.
6. Write a brief cover letter to summarize where you match criteria and qualifications.
Always remember a resume screener’s number one goal is to find resumes that best match the job criteria. Targeting your resume with the resume screener in mind is the best way to get your resume through the door and on the top of the pile.
Gary Wing is managing partner of the Alexander Technology Group, KBW Financial Staffing & Recruiting, The Nagler Group, which has a local office at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth.
Go to www.TADPGS.com to view our job openings and join our LinkedIn group, Veterans Hiring Solutions for Veterans and Companies at http://linkd.in/Sg346w. If you have specific questions about issues affecting you, your benefits, your dependents etc., feel free to send them to me personally at Ben.Marich@Adeccona.com, and I will try to help you.