We can all agree that high-tech gadgets have given us big improvements in our daily lives. But did you know that these same improvements and innovations can potentially hurt your chances at landing an interview?
With the introduction of applicant tracking software (ATS) that uses coding and predictive equations to screen out applicants, combined with the ever-tightening job market and an influx of qualified candidate, chances of your resume even getting in front of a decision maker are lower than ever.
But don’t throw in the metaphorical career towel just yet. There are ways to get your resume to the top of the list! Below are a few resume crafting tips for the technology age. Each is sure to catch the attention of both the tech and human side of the job hunting equation.
Let’s Talk Style
Before we get down to the nitty gritty about what to, let’s talk about the basics of style and design. After all, it’s important to understand the differences in popular resume formats. We must understand why one or the other may be right for you.
There are three main layout and organizational styles in resume crafting: chronological, functional and combination. Each has benefits and disadvantages when it comes to showcasing your stellar career history and education.
The chronological resume format is far and wide the most popular and commonly used template. In this design your work history and education are listed in separate sections in chronological order. When using this format, of course, be sure to include the most recent experience at the top.
In the chronological resume format, your entire work history and career footprint are easily identifiable and digestible. This design is also instantly recognizable since it’s the most widely used by candidates across all spectrums of industries. Job seekers beware, though.
Do you have little applicable experience? A significant job gap? Or a period of employment that is not representative of your desired position? The chronological resume can highlight these types of deficiencies. This means a lengthy explanations in your cover letter, initial phone screening or in person interview may be necessary.
Have any of the these holes lurking in your career history? Consider a functional resume for your preferred format. In this design your skills, achievements and applicable career competencies are listed at the top of the resume. Specific positions may be listed later on, but dates are generally not included.
The Functional Resume
A functional resume has the benefit of pointing out your strengths. It also highlights just how you’d be a good fit for the desired position. The downside to this type of formatting? You still may be asked about specific dates of employment, which can take up valuable time during your interview.
A Combination Platter
Do neither of these styles provide a goldilocks scenario; they don’t fit “just right” for your career history? A combination style resume may be just the thing you’re looking for.
In a combination resume you will list both your relevant skills and chronological job history, each with their own separate sections and headings. Deciding whether to lead with your experience or work history will depend on the position you’re interviewing for, as well as whether you want to stress or minimize the historical impact of your complete job history.
Specifics About Formatting
You’ve chosen a style or type of resume that best fits your desired position. Now you’re ready to start crafting that masterpiece of employment history. Sure, many choices will depend on your personality and desired career. But when it comes to fonts, bullets and length, there are a few commonly accepted norms.
Technical aspects to keep in mind include length, margins and spacing. They also includ font size and narrative voice (first or third person etc.). Below is a checklist of accepted norms:
- Font – Classic fonts such as Times or Arial
- Font Size – 10-12 pt
- Margins – ¾ – 1” margins
- Spacing – Single
- Narrative Voice – Active, First Person – Avoid using the passive voice
Optimizing for Tech
The next thing to keep in mind when it comes to resume crafting is that the first pass of your experience and work history may not be made by a human. ATS technology is used by large recruiting firms and major corporations as a tool to weed out lesser candidates. It also identifies those that have the right skills for the position.
Sure, this means good things forgetting those highly qualified candidates. But if you’re not careful it can also mean your resume is potentially discarded. For as advanced as predictive technology is, it is not able to process everything. Special characters or punctuation, elaborate fonts and images or graphics will all be disregarded. So ditch the fancy font that dots your i’s with hearts and the emoji inserts. Instead, stick with the basics for best results.
Content – The Meat of the Matter
You’ve now worked out the fine details of style and formatting. So it’s’ time to get down to the business of resume crafting. Within the specific styles discussed above, there are several ways to lay out the information you’re attempting to convey. For this, sections for work history, skills, experience and education are all commonly used. Each helps easily identify your key strengths and relevant career history.
Yes, the work history, relevant skills and certifications and education are self-explanatory categories. But the experience heading tends to trip applicants up the most. It is also an under-utilized way to make a big impact with a potential employer. An experience section should be no more than two to three sentences. Each must provide a bird’s-eye-view of what the reader will deduce from the rest of your resume. Of course, list your key qualifications that are applicable to your desired job. And highlight one or two major technical strengths. Add in a sentence addressing your education and certifications. This paragraph then becomes a roadmap for the rest of your stellar resume.
Getting Down to Specifics
One of the bigger turn-off for employers? A resume that talks a lot but says very little about you. So use the work history section, or the experience or skills wrap-ups, to be clear on qualifications.
For instance, don’t describe yourself as a “good manager”. Instead, lay out the traits that make you successful in your job:
“Successfully manage a team of five with day to day supervision including scheduling and reviews”
This will tell the reader you’d make the perfect fit for their company or job opening.
When picking out skills to highlight, be sure to keep in mind the job you’re applying for. Do a thorough perusal of the job listing. Then a quick exploration of the company website. That will give you an initial sense of the type of candidate the employer is looking for. Find ways to highlight within your resume traits that fit the bill. Then, you’ll be that much closer to landing a call-back.
Read, Read and Re-Read that Resume
One final, but critical piece of advice when it comes to resume crafting basics? One that will take you back to your high school days when grades were hurt for miss-types or spelling errors?
While no one will be giving you an F for improper verb usage, your resume will be demoted if it contains numerous grammatical, spelling, formatting or other errors. Before hitting the send button, read your resume several times through. Better yet, ask a friend if they’d be willing to give your CV an additional perusal. After all, with something as important as a job on the line, it never hurts to go the extra mile.
The Final Word on Resume Crafting
Sure, it may seem like an intimidating endeavor. But quality resume crafting remains a critical component to both your immediate and long term career success. Various online templates or those available in your word processing software, make figuring out just where to start a breeze. That, in combination with our excellent advice above, will make you the belle of the job application ball. More important, it will get you a vital leg up in scoring the job of your dreams.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Simply Hired.