Hiring managers are deluged daily with resumes. They seek those
that quickly and succinctly tell them a candidate's specific skills,
experience and accomplishments. Resumes swiftly let them know if
you make the cut or get tossed into the reject pile.
Time-pressed recruiters can get up to 400 resumes a day, said Mike
Worthington, co-founder of ResumeDoctor.com. They'll spend less
than 10 seconds considering each one.
Worthington said applicants need to use those seconds wisely.
Job seekers, he said, must grab a reader's attention in the top
one-third of their resumes. List concrete examples of their skills,
level of expertise and how those specifically match the requirements
of the position.
"Fluff" phrases still abound in resumes, according to a recent
survey by ResumeDoctor.com.
The company examined the skills cited by job seekers on more than
160,000 resumes. The study found that half of them used one or more
vague phrases to describe their work skills and experience.
The top five fluff phrases were: "communication skills," "team
player," "organizational skills," interpersonal skills" and "driven."
A more effective resume shows -- rather than tells -- what you've
For example: Swap "communication skills" with "facilitated 12 leadership
development workshops" or "presented monthly financial reports for
the board of directors."
Change "driven" to "top outside accounts sales representative in
2001, 2002 and 2003."
Some job-hunters make the mistake of using previous resumes as
a blueprint for updated versions, said Mary Dunleavy, president
of Advantage Resume & Career Services in Adel, Iowa. The style in
which the dated resume is written might not be the most productive
In the past, resumes included an "objective" statement, which stated
what employees wanted to accomplish for themselves, Dunleavy said.
Today, she said, scrap the "objective," and replace it with a qualifications
summary. Dunleavy suggests bulleting four to six key strengths or
Work accomplishments, educational background and work experience
are three main areas recruiter John Blanchard scans resumes for.
Blanchard, an owner of Midwest Search Group in Clive, Iowa, reads
35 to 40 resumes a day, spending an average of two minutes on each.
He looks for resumes that are well-written and easy to read, using
bullets. He doesn't like big blocks of text or narratives.
Blanchard, a recruiter for 10 years specializing in banking and
finance, also likes to see:
- Resumes no longer than two pages. A one and one-half
page resume for someone with five or more years of experience
is acceptable; a page for those less experienced.
- System skills listed. Very few people emphasize skills
in using programs like Microsoft Excel or Word.
His resume turnoffs are:
- Employment dates given in years, not in months. That's
usually a mask to cover a gap.
- Excessive use of "I," "my" or "me." "It can show that
they're not a team player," he said.
- Listing interests. Stay away from mentioning hobbies
like jogging, biking and golfing. "That, to me, is what I consider
true fluff," Blanchard said.
WorkBytes column written by and for Gen Xers learning the realities
of the workplace. Dawn Sagario and Tim Higgins of The Des Moines
Register take turns writing this column each week. Write the columnists
at The Des Moines Register, P.O. Box 957, Des Moines, Iowa 50304-0957.