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 a Growth Mindset is the Key to Success

Being able to harness a growth mindset can have implications on your career development. Mindset is everything, and as organizations become more agile and fast-moving, a growth mindset becomes a much higher priority and therefore crucial to your career success. Individuals who have a growth mindset believe their talents can be developed and tend to achieve more than those with a fixed mindset, who are more likely to believe that talents are innate gifts rather than something that can be improved upon through hard work.

A growth mindset is also exactly the opposite of a fixed mindset in that it is quite literally not fixed. Creating a growth mindset is a process – a gradual and conscious process of changing the way you think over time and regularly reflecting on where you utilize your growth mindset vs. your fixed mindset in various areas of your life. A growth mindset is more of a journey than an end-goal and requires critical thinking and a belief in continuous learning.

How does this impact your career?

If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that you’re dealt a specific hand in life including your talents, abilities and intelligence. This belief of an invisible ceiling will likely stunt your career progression at some point.

If you have a growth mindset, you believe in cultivating skills, knowledge and talents through hard work, strategy and feedback. You place less limitations on yourself and your abilities and believe in failing forward and learning.

Through reflection you can start to identify where in your life you utilize your fixed mindset, and where you utilize a growth mindset. Some questions to ask yourself:

Where have you seen challenges as learning experiences?

Do you take advantage of opportunities to develop your skills, knowledge and abilities?

Steps to Foster a Growth Mindset

Fail Forward

Embrace failure and acknowledge that failing does not mean that you are unintelligent or inadequate. When you make an error or a mistake, you haven’t failed, you’ve learned.

Seek Feedback

Feedback is vital to your growth and development, and individuals with a growth mindset accept and embrace feedback for self-improvement.

Prioritize Learning

The process of learning is the key, not necessarily the end result.

Turn Challenges into Opportunities

Having a growth mindset means challenges are just opportunities for learning and improvement.

If you want to read more about the research behind the correlation between mindset and success, I highly recommend Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. It’s based on decades of research by the author and world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck and will completely change the way you think.

“No matter what your current ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.” – Carol Dweck

How to Answer: What Are Your Salary Expectations?

There is no trickier question in the interview process for most candidates. Believe me when I say that companies are not trying to trip you up when we ask this question and I often broach this topic in the initial phone interview. What we really want to know is, are you within our salary range? Many organizations have fixed salary ranges and we want to avoid getting too far down the line only to find that we can’t afford you, while also leaving you disappointed.

Why is this such a tricky question?

If you aim too high, you risk putting yourself out of the company’s range completely and thus, out of consideration. If you target too low, the company could lowball you leaving you dissatisfied. Depending on when this question is asked, it could also be difficult for you to gauge your salary expectations without fully knowing what the job entails.

It’s best to do your research ahead of time so that you feel confident going into the interview.

Research competitive market data

Going into the interview, you should have a clear idea of what someone in this role is earning. There are lots of resources available online including Payscale.com, Glassdoor.com, Salary.com, and LinkedIn which now provides salary insights. And be as specific as the data will allow you to; industry, location and any additional details will all provide more targeted and accurate results.

Tip: take the data with a grain of salt and when in doubt, go with your gut. The salary data from these sources should give you a rough idea to build on but they are not the be-all, end all.

Know your worth

While it’s good to be armed with competitive market data, you also need to know the worth of the skills, knowledge, and experience that you bring to the role and that differentiate you from other candidates. No one knows your skillset and its value in your industry better than you! While you do not need to communicate it, know what your bottom line is going into the conversation and be prepared to back it up by highlighting your skills.

Share a range, not a number

When answering the question, I always recommend providing a range (think 10-15k) rather than committing to a specific number that could be too high, could be too low, and could also limit your ability to negotiate later in the process. Never provide any numbers you wouldn’t be happy with, even the lowest end of your range should be a salary you’d be content with.

Be flexible

In addition to salary, there may be other monetary incentives, benefits or perks that you consider valuable, and you can use these as opportunities for negotiation. For example, if you have the salary conversation and find you’re slightly above what the company has budgeted, they may be willing to offer incentives to try to close the gap.

Example Responses:

“While I am flexible, I am looking for between $65,000 to $75,000 annually.”

“Based on market data I’d expect somewhere between $50,000 to $60,000 annually, but I’d like to learn more about the specific responsibilities of the role.”

“I’m open to discussion but based on my current salary and my knowledge of the industry, I’d expect a salary in the range of $80,000 to $95,000, depending on the total compensation package.”

“I would ideally be looking for a salary between $60,000 and $75,000 annually. It’s in line with the industry average and it reflects the skills and experience I would bring to the role. That said, I am flexible and open to hearing more about the company’s range for this position.”

Key Takeaways

  1. Do your research
  2. Know the value of the skills and experience you bring
  3. Express your flexibility
  4. Never provide any numbers you wouldn’t be happy with
  5. Provide a range and not a number
  6. Know your bottom line
  7. Be prepared to negotiate

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.

How to Prepare for a Panel Interview

You applied to a role, made it through the first stage with the recruiter (me!) and then find out you’re being moved to the next stage of the interview process which will be a panel interview. The idea of being interviewed by a group of people is enough to make anyone sweat.

What is a Panel Interview?

A panel interview is an interview with a hiring team, usually made up of the Hiring Manager plus any other relevant stakeholders or decision makers, and sometimes HR. Panel interviews are usually made up of between 2 and 5 people.

Why a Panel Interview?

Panel interviews can be extremely effective, namely because they save time for everyone by reducing the amount of interview rounds. They’re a more agile way of hiring and can speed up the process tenfold. Through including additional panel members, the hiring manager can gain more perspective on the candidate and it also reduces the risk of making a bad hire. On the flip side, it’s also an opportunity for the candidate to get a sense of who they’ll be working with as well as a feel for the company culture by meeting with multiple people.

As with any interview, preparation is key.

Research and Know Your Audience

Before any interview you should research the company to get a feel for their culture, vision and any recent news or activity. Being able to demonstrate in an interview that you’ve done your research on the company also shows the interviewers that you’re truly interested in that specific company and not just in finding employment. Additionally, research the panel members through a quick search on LinkedIn to learn more about who you’ll be meeting with and gain some context.

Bring Your Resume

Depending on how prepared the panel is, they may or may not already have your resume printed and prepped to meet with you. As a precaution (and to show how prepared you are) it’s always good to bring enough copies of your resume for everyone on the panel.

Prepare Examples

Before your interview, review the job description again. Try to anticipate the kinds of questions the panel will ask you based on the qualifications of the role and build out some strong examples. You’ll not only refamiliarize yourself with the role expectations which is important, but you’ll have great examples ready to draw on in the interview and hopefully relieve some nerves. 

Connect with Everyone

By this, I mean make sure you talk to everyone and make eye contact with everyone at some point in the interview. I’ve been a part of many panel interviews where the candidate is not inclusive of everyone in the room and intentionally or unintentionally focuses their attention only on the hiring manager.

Be Authentic

Interviews are where you can show your personality and build relationships with the hiring team. We love to meet with candidates and feel like we got a sense of their authentic selves whether it was through their humor, something bold they wore, their body language, or even a really strong work example they provided that demonstrated a quality we look for.

Come Prepared with Questions

Always come prepared with a few thoughtful questions to ask at the end of the interview. They’re a great way to differentiate yourself through crafting questions that show the panel your interest, your knowledge in the space and your ability to make connections. For a panel interview, think of a question that you would want to ask each panel member so that the Q&A is not just a conversation between yourself and the hiring manager.

Thank You Notes

Lastly, thank you notes through email go a long way and you would be surprised how underutilized they are. Briefly thank the panel for their time, reiterate your interest in the role, and let them know you’re looking forward to next steps in the process. If you don’t have the email addresses of the panel members you can reach out to the recruiter for their contact information or send the thank you note to the recruiter to please forward to the panel for their time.