People often ask me why anyone would seek professional help with writing his or her resume. The great part about resume writing is that I often work with educated professionals who have years of great experience. Unfortunately, they just don’t know how to get their resumes in front of people with the power to give them a job. Generally, they’re too busy being a great nurse, project manager, executive, or whatever else to understand one important thing: how recruiters think.
1) They have very little time
While recruiters and hiring managers have many different philosophies and approaches, one thing is certain: they all review scores of resumes. Rejection letters often inform candidates that more than 100 people had applied for the same position. Faced with competition of that magnitude, it’s easy to see why your resume has to be outstanding in order for you to get any attention from an employer. Most people reviewing your resume simply don’t have more than a minute or two to look it over.
2) Know your audience
Given the volume of resumes employers receive for each position, lower-level hiring staff are frequently used to “shortlist” candidates for each opening. This means that a less experienced HR professional is reviewing dozens of resumes in order to weed out 6-10 strong candidates. With this in mind, it’s important to write your resume in simple terms that someone who doesn’t have your background can grasp. As you develop the highlights from each of your previous positions, ask yourself if a stranger at a cocktail party would understand what you’ve just written.
3) Experience doesn’t always matter
Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re looking for a pet sitter while your family is away for a week’s vacation. In looking for a pet sitter, you would generally want to know about the person’s experience with pets, whether her availability met your needs, and whether your pet liked her during an in-person introduction. The pet sitter candidate would be wasting your time if she told you all about her experience roofing houses or preparing people’s income taxes. It’s fabulous that she has those abilities, but all you need to know is whether she can walk and feed your dog.
The same principle is true for resumes. Because the average worker holds more than 10 jobs during his or her career, chances are good that some of your accomplishments may not be relevant to the job you’re currently trying to get. Use your resume space for the experiences that matter, and don’t overwhelm reviewers with information that they don’t need.