As the COVID-19 pandemic changes the business landscape, networking opportunities for young professionals may be limited. For many, the only way to make an impression with a potential employer is with their resumes.
This is no easy task. According to Glassdoor, for every job opening, an average of 250 resumes are submitted, and only four to six candidates are called for an interview. With the odds stacked against them, it’s essential for prospective hires to create a professional resume that stands out from the rest.
These tips will cover ground beyond the basics, as there are countless templates online to format a resume. Instead, the focus will be on fine-tuning a resume to meet the criteria of current hiring practices and maximize the chances of landing an interview.
Passing the robo-screener
According to Workopolis, up to 60 per cent of companies use automated screening software to weed out undesirable candidates before their resumes are even seen by human eyes. Even qualified candidates can be eliminated if they present their information in the wrong way.
Here are some simple ways to beat the bots and make sure your resume is up to the test.
Use keywords: Automated screeners look for keywords from the original job posting to decide if a candidate is viable for an open position. It’s best to have your qualifications, skills and experience written in a way that mirrors the language used in the original posting.
Simple fonts and format: Your resume should have no spelling and grammar errors and be easy for the software to track and read. Elaborate fonts and an unorthodox layout can confuse the software and lead to rejection.
Given the high volume of applicants for most positions, half the battle can just be getting your resume read by a hiring manager. A study by TheLadders found that recruiters spend an average of only seven seconds scanning a resume. This means an effective resume must be easy to skim and visually appealing, or it could be immediately discarded.
The same study by TheLadders used eye-tracking software to monitor recruiters’ engagement in various resumes and found that resumes with these traits get the most attention.
Use of whitespace: Resumes that appear too crowded and have bloated sections with overlong sentences perform poorly. It’s best to choose a simple layout and take advantage of white space to avoid a cluttered look.
Keyword context: Like their automated counterparts, recruiters also search for keywords. However, recruiters want the keywords to be presented in a way that makes sense. Only use keywords in relevant sections and avoid throwing them in for the sake of it.
The two-page rule: Keep your resume to a maximum of two pages. The study by TheLadders showed that recruiters are just as interested in the second page of a resume as they are in the first, provided that the first page was a compelling read.
The eye-tracking study also found that the following sections got the most attention.
Contact information: This is the most crucial part of a resume. Your contact information should be in a clear, bold font that’s easy to read.
Mission statement: Have your mission statement at the top of the page. A well-written mission statement is a must, as it gives a quick summary of your skills and a look at your career ambitions.
Experience: Eye tracking showed that recruiters spent the most time looking at job titles. Resumes that had bolded job titles and followed them up with accomplishments listed in bullet form performed best.
Hiring practices differ from company to company, and researching to find out the culture of a company can give you ideas about what they might want in a resume. It may be best to keep it simple, but anything that can give you an edge might be worth trying.