How to Get Your Resume Noticed by Recruiters

You might spend days or even weeks perfecting your resume before sending out job applications. But how long does the average recruiter actually spend reviewing your resume? According to a 2018 eye tracking study, Ladders Inc. found that recruiters scan a resume for an average of 7.4 seconds (which is up from 6 seconds in 2012). The resumes that fared well were easy to read and featured simple layouts with clear section and heading titles. Resumes that did not do well were those that were too long with cluttered layouts, multiple columns and little white space.

As a candidate there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting noticed and shortlisted to move forward in the process.

Make your resume easy to read

When recruiters scan your resume they need to be able to easily digest your experience and understand what you do. This means no paragraphs, long winded bullet points, images or an overly creative and distracting format to your resume that makes it difficult to locate information. Recruiters need to be able to clearly locate your current title and company, your previous title and company, start/end dates and education. You can also opt to add a few key bullet points as a summary to the top of your resume to highlight your work experience in a few sentences.

Another consideration in making your resume easy to read is formatting. Keep your resume in reverse chronological order and use a simple, no-fuss font like Times New Roman or Calibri in a font size of 10-12.

Last but not least, keywords, keywords, keywords! Make sure your resume is keyword friendly by including keywords for the skills you think they’d search for based on the position. As an example, if you work in finance and you’ve worked with certain software or programs, include those on your resume. You can also look through the job description to find the most relevant keywords the recruiter might search for.

Don’t make it too long

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how many pages you should keep your resume to. The shorter it is the easier it will be for the recruiter to review, but if cutting your resume to 1 page means cutting out valuable experience or information, don’t do it. Based on your level and the number of years you’ve been working I’d aim to keep your resume between 2-3 pages.

Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying to

Your resume should always be tailored to the role you’re applying to. The easiest way to do this is to look at the job description of the role and draw the shortest line possible between your experience and what is stated in the job description so that it’s clear you’re a match for the position. The more tailored the resume is, the better off you’ll be.  

Highlight your accomplishments

Highlighting your accomplishments can set you apart as an applicant. Recruiters and hiring managers like to see what you were able to accomplish in each role in addition to your day to day responsibilities. You can include a few bullet points for each of your roles to highlight your key accomplishments that lead to tangible results. For example, if you implemented a new program, increased sales by X, or lead a key project start to finish – we want to hear about it (just be sure you’re able to clearly outline how you accomplished these wins as they’ll likely be discussed in the interview process).

Use your network

One of the most effective ways to get your resume noticed is to use the connections in your network. If you know someone at the company you’re applying to who can refer you or forward your resume to the HR department, this can make a huge impact. Company referrals are trusted sources and because of this, referrals who get moved forward to the interview stage of the process statistically have a higher chance of getting hired than other candidates.

Other Tips:

Don’t neglect your LinkedIn profile – make sure it’s up to date and that all of the information on your resume lines up with what you have on LinkedIn.

Remove irrelevant information – anything non-work related, old or irrelevant jobs from the past can all go.

Use action words to describe your responsibilities at each employer – think of words like managed, lead, implemented, etc.

Submit your resume as a PDF – it’s cleaner and it will prevent any formatting errors.

Always double check your resume for spelling errors or typos before sending.

Good luck!

Why You Should Never Accept the Counteroffer

There have been two instances in my career where I accepted a new job with a different company and when I walked into my managers office to provide my resignation, I was asked what salary I’d be looking for in order to stay. In both situations I was a very taken back, and with one it was downright offensive because I had already tried to negotiate a salary increase months before.

While it can be tempting (and flattering) to hear your manager and company try to bid you back with a higher salary, promise of more responsibility or something else of value to you, the best response is a very polite “no, thank you”, and here’s why.

There was a reason you decided to start a job search and that could have included salary, but probably wasn’t limited to it.

A 2018 study done by Korn Ferry of almost 5000 professionals found that 33% of employees started looking for a job because they were bored and no longer felt challenged in their role. 24% started looking because the company culture didn’t fit with their values, while a smaller percentage noted salary as the top reason to start looking for a new job. And my guess is that prior to starting your search, you had already tried to resolve your concerns, or, your concern was something fixed (like a rough commute).

When your manager comes to you with a counter offer you might wonder: between yesterday and today, what changed? Why are you now being offered the raise you asked for months ago? Why is there now an opportunity for you to lead that project? It isn’t that your value is suddenly apparent to your manager. It’s because your leaving not only causes a disruption in work and productivity, but it also means hiring and training someone new which is expensive and a large time commitment.

Bottom line: if you ever find yourself on the other end of a counteroffer, take stock of the reasons you started your job search in the first place and be honest with yourself. Would those issues go away or be resolved if you accepted? It’s unlikely.

How to Pivot into a Totally Different Job

Throughout my career, I’ve encountered many folks trying to pivot into totally different jobs and fields within their company. They might feel like there isn’t as much growth potential as they want in their field, they genuinely don’t enjoy their work anymore, or there’s a need to gain skills and experience in a totally different area in order to progress in their career. I can tell you that no matter what you’re doing, it might be difficult but it’s never impossible and there are a few key things you can do to make it happen.

Speak Up

This is crucial if you’re looking to make your move internally with your current company. If you have a performance development routine with your manager, bring it up and add it to your personal development plan with actionable steps. In many companies, your two key supporters will be your direct manager and your HR partner. Making your interests clear to both parties will help them to guide you effectively and champion you when a new role comes up.

Education

Pursue formal learning where required. Completing a certificate or a course is not only a good idea to get a base set of knowledge for certain fields (in some it’ll be required), but it also demonstrates your commitment to making a career change.

Find Ways to Get Experience

I recommend finding ways to get even small amounts of experience in the department you aspire to work in. There are lots of options here including but not limited to job shadowing, volunteering some of your time to help in a different department, short term experiences, short term assignments, the list goes on. Get creative and work with your manager to determine what makes sense based on your time capacity and your existing transferrable skills.

Build Relationships

The relationships and networks you build professionally can be key to helping you progress, especially when there is such a large hidden job market. Network by reaching out to associates or leaders in the department you’re interested in to learn more, express your interest and also get some direction and guidance.

Craft a Compelling Narrative

Hiring Managers are going to want to understand why you’re looking to make a change into a different role or career. Craft a compelling story that ties together your past experiences and interests and how they’ve brought you to where you are now, and why you believe this is the right move for you. Also be sure to include how your skills and knowledge would be of benefit in the new role.

Apply

When those jobs come up, apply! Make sure your resume reads as relevant as possible- have any relevant experience and education front and center so that the hiring manager can easily see your demonstrated commitment and interest, particularly if you’re coming from a different field. And keep at it – it can take time to make a change like this so try to not get discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight.