No one is going to read your resume. At least not at first.
Recruiters glance at resumes, they don’t read them word for word. And they’re not to blame; they have limited time and dozens or even hundreds of applications to go over every day, and yours is just another one in the bunch. Unless it stands out, your resume won’t get noticed.
Furthermore, it is not the recruiter’s job to notice you. It is your responsibility to make your resume catch the recruiter’s attention (and after that, to convince the hiring manager). In a two part series, we cover how to craft your resume so it stands out to tech recruiters and hiring managers. This is part one of this series where we focus on developing a strong first draft.
Drafting a great resume is more than just filling out a template. It’s about creating your own masterpiece - a work of art that reflects who you are and how you want to be perceived. This is very unique, and there’s no single way to go about it. There are however best practices and learnings. Below I share five steps to get you to a master draft that you can leverage to create a recruiter ready resume.
A resume is not your life story. It is your application to a role.
According to Wikipedia, it “contains a summary of relevant job experience and education”. Relevance is key. You don’t have to list everything you did, only the things relevant to the job you’re applying for. That can mean leaving out the things that you’re proud of but are not relevant for the role. Same goes for hobbies and other activities. These are okay to list if they are relevant or can help to distinguish you from other candidates; just don’t list them for the sake of having something there - it’s perfectly fine to not have a hobbies section. In short, put on your resume the information that highlights that you’re the right person for the role you’re applying for.
Think of your resume as advertising. You’re selling yourself to your target customer - the recruiter or hiring manager. As mentioned above, it needs to capture their attention in just a few seconds. This is critical.
When a resume fails to grab the reader’s attention it is likely to be dismissed. Ads have 7-8 seconds to grab the attention of its viewers. Job applicants might have a little more time, but not a lot more. You have to make it stand out. Luckily, creating a resume that reads like a good ad is all about the right resume creation process, which we dive into below.
Applying to different jobs requires tailoring your resume to different audiences (see part II on customizing and enhancing your resume). This means that for every application - to different companies or different roles within the same company – your resume should be tailored to that role or company. One way to optimize for this is to have a master resume with everything written down from which, each time you need it, you can leverage it without re-doing everything.
To create this master resume, don’t think of it as your final resume, but your source for future resumes. Don’t think of the role you’re applying for yet. Just write down everything that you can think of in terms of qualifications, skills, and experience. This might lead to three or four (or even more) fullpages. That’s good.
This is not your resume to be sent (which should be one page), but for you to keep and reference when crafting a shareable version. When writing this master version, try to make it as close to the final version as possible. The better this version is, the better the final version is going to be. A few tips:
Once you have listed all your qualifications, skills, and experience, it is now time to work on them. Style is personal, but a few tips:
Same as any brand advertisement, you want to make sure you’re consistent in the message you’re delivering. Just like ads, the message can change depending on the target audience and the channel being used. It can change over time too, but its core should remain the same. This is particularly important in two areas:
Again, no one is going to read your resume. Not unless it stands out. This should be your starting point. Knowing this might be hard, but it is not a blocker. It should be motivating - at least you know that if you craft a great resume, one that stands out, someone will read it, and doors will open for you. Having a master draft is step one of this journey. Step two is customizing and enhancing your master draft to make it stand out.
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