Many people generally know that their resume needs to be well written. However, most do not know specifically why it should be well written or how to write it well. This week’s blog will illustrate precisely why resume writing is important.
After illustrating why resume writing is important, we’ll dig into strategies to help you write your resume well.
You have limited bandwidth
The answer to why resume writing is important is simple. You have a very limited attention bandwidth to capture the attention of any organization you send an application to. Your resume will be put through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), through a recruiter, or both. Both modes have limited bandwidth. This means that your resume needs to instantly communicate how you can contribute to their organization.
Most organizations now have Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). An ATS is a tool used by employers to help them sort through resumes and applications with consistency and efficiency. They automatically review resumes submitted by looking for keywords associated with what the employer is looking for in a successful candidate. For instance, in a role with financial expertise, an ATS might be used to scan applications/resumes for applicants with a certain accounting designation. They can also be used to look for a specific skill, such as “Operations Management”. Your resume has limited bandwidth with an ATS. Your resume will only be selected if it matches the profile the ATS is looking for.
Now if your resume makes it through the ATS, it will then land in the hands of a recruiter. If the employer does not use an ATS, then it ends up straight in the hands of a recruiter.
Your resume has limited bandwidth with a recruiter because they have a stack of resumes to review. This means that you have somewhere between 3.5-6 seconds to grab their attention when your resume gets looked at. They need to immediately see the potential value you would bring to their organization.
Tailor your resume for each job you apply for
Now that we know why resume writing is important, here are three strategies for making the most of the limited bandwidth you have with an ATS or Recruiter.
First, you need to tailor your resume for each job you apply for. As much as you may only be applying for certain types of jobs in your field, each posting will have different keywords. Also, each posting will prioritize different skills and expertise as requirements. For each job you apply for, you should be updating the verbiage in your resume to match that in the job description.
For instance, a job posting may ask for logistics management. If you have experience in operations management listed in your resume, you should update that to logistics management.
Also, look to see you have experience in areas that the job posting lists as the responsibilities of the job. If you haven’t listed experience on your resume that speaks to those responsibilities, add that experience to your resume. It will speak directly to solving their problem. If this makes your resume too long, remove an experience piece from your resume that is not on the job posting.
A word of caution. Don’t game the system. Only add keywords and experience if it is something you have. Lots of people use this knowledge to lie or misrepresent themselves on their resumes. It’s tempting, but it will be obvious if you start the job and you don’t have the skills or experience they were looking for.
As well, don’t worry if you don’t satisfy every detail in a job description. Not many people really can. Sometimes it can be tempting to game the system to meet all of the criteria. When people do this, it is obvious.
Make it instantly clear
Second, the value you bring to the role needs to be immediately clear at the top of your resume. This is the best way to capture that 3.5-6 seconds you have with a recruiter.
How do you do this? One strategy is to have an ‘overview’ or ‘skills overview’ section of your resume. From there, pick the top-5 skills/experience from the job description that you can offer the organization.
For instance, a job posting may ask for 7 years of leadership experience in an operations management role. If I have 9 years of experience, I would list that as a bullet point under the overview heading. Same with any important certifications that may be required. A good example of this in data-based roles is proficiency in Python or SQL.
When you can do this, it makes it immediately clear to any recruiter which of their problems you can help solve.
The same word of caution goes with the last strategy. It can be tempting to say you have something you don’t when you want that job. If you do so, it will be obvious.
Make use of white space
Third, use white space in your resume to your advantage. White space can also be known as negative space.
If your resume is jam-packed with text, then it will be hard for recruiters to zero in on the highlights. The important points will be lost in the wall of text. Using white space can make your resume easier to read and more inviting.
There are several ways to use white space to your advantage in your resume that will draw attention to specific sections. Start by including line breaks between sections and chunks in your resume. An example of this would be a line break between each job experience you may have had.
Next, make sure you are using bullet points. These will separate each highlight in a way that it doesn’t become a wall of text.
Lastly, make sure there isn’t too much white space. A good resume should be two pages long. This is a very attainable length for any amount of experience you may have had. If you end it after a page and a half, that might be too much white space.
Hopefully, this blog helps show why resume writing is important with good strategies to help you write in a way that captures attention quickly.
If you need any help with your resume, let me know! Am currently accepting resume writing clients in anticipation of launching a full resume-writing service in the coming weeks.