5 Things That Will (Finally) Get Your Resume Read

resume_stackDuring my 10 years in the career world, I’ve seen a lot of résumés. And I’ve heard many complaints and critiques about resumes from recruiters, hiring managers and career services.

However, I’ll never rip apart someone’s résumé, offering my two cents as an industry professional.  Why? That person probably worked hard to create or update their résumé. Fact is, most of those resumes are good.

In today’s market, however, “good” isn’t good enough anymore. We must take your résumé from good to great.

Here are five things that will (finally) get your résumé read by a recruiter or hiring manager:


There are thousands of free templates out there. Research sample résumés for the industry you’re interested in (there are major differences) and tweak your format as needed. My boss said something to me recently that resonated well. She said, “Don’t put yourself into a box if you don’t have to.”

Feel free to edit sections and headers to fit your purpose. If you don’t have “work experience” think about other types of experience, such as leadership experience, volunteer experience, etc. Of course, keep your résumé in a format consistent with your industry’s norms.

In a world where everyone has to be different, you might be thinking this is bad advice. Trust me, it isn’t. If your résumé is easy to follow and has the right KPIs (Key Performance Indicators,) it can take you a long way.

Fun fact: A simple Google search for “great résumés” returns over 590 million results!


One issue that is consistently lacking on most résumés is… quantification.

I don’t want to see your job description, duties, or applied skills. I want to see accomplishments, leadership, and results. All too often, candidates focus on their current job duties versus what they’re actually doing (or did) in that position.

An example: “Responsible for supervising shift employees.”

As a reader, I don’t get much information from that statement. Rather than the generic line from the job description, focus on facts like HOW MANY people you supervised/trained. HOW did your work affect the bottom line? HOW did the company benefit from your teams accomplishments?


Your results can’t speak for themselves if you don’t give them a voice. You can’t expect the reader (aka recruiter) to know what you’ve accomplished if all you provide is one of those generic statements.

Focus on the WHAT.

What was the IMPACT? Did you increase sales or participation? If so, by how much? WHAT was the OUTCOME of your customer service? WHAT problems did you solve? Numbers and percentages speak volumes here. Don’t be afraid to toot your horn a little!


What sets you apart from the competition? How are you any different than the thousands of applicants companies receive on a daily basis? Think about those two questions. Have an answer? I do!

It’s all about leadership! Are you leading a team? If so, how? What are you doing as a leader? Do you learn from failure as well as success? As they seek top talent, recruiters today are looking for leadership qualities.

Involvement in athletics, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church groups, SIFE, military, etc. demonstrates you are dedicated, work well with a team as well as on your own, can make on-the-spot decisions in challenging situations, and communicate this effectively to your team and superiors.


The age-old dilemma: how many pages should my résumé be? Ask this one question and you’ll get a variety of answers, depending on who you ask! Personally, I think if you have less than 10 years of experience, one page is more than enough space.

It’s all about relevant experience, not everything you’ve ever done in your entire life (remove things like high school education, irrelevant coursework, etc. to make some room.) Keep in mind that thousands of résumés come across recruiters’ desks. They don’t have a lot of time to read your entire life’s history. In fact, the average recruiter skims a typical resume in six seconds. Will yours get a second look? What about Page 2… will it even get noticed?

My last piece of advice is this: Your résumé is a living document; keep it updated as you gain new experience and skills.

A good practice: revisit your résumé every six months just to keep the content relevant and fresh – even if you’re not looking for a new job (you can never be too prepared, right?)

And when you do update that resume – and take it from good to great – keep these five things in mind… and get your resume read!

Did I leave anything out? Something you’d like to add? This is YOUR chance! We welcome your insight, feedback and opinion. I’d love to hear from you; please leave a comment below.





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Campus to Career!



Kirk BaumannAbout the Author: Kirk Baumann is a passionate recruiting advocate preparing the next generation of talent for the career of their dreams. He’s a social media enthusiast who loves technology and how it’s connecting people in ways like never before.  Kirk currently serves as Vice President, Career Services for Enactus United States (formerly known as SIFE). There, he helps Fortune 500 & 100 companies recruit top talent for their organizations as well as helping students, alumni, and young professionals find their dream job. Follow Kirk on Twitter!


Image courtesy of blog.hiredmyway.com. Thank you!



This entry was posted in Job Search, Resumes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.