You agonize over your resume. You worry that if it’s not perfect, you may not get a call from a recruiter. If it’s not perfect, you may never get out of your current role. The truth is, though, when you constantly gather feedback from peers and experts and tinker endlessly with your CV, you may end up making the job search too confusing before you even get started.
Ultimately, you only want to consider one thing when you write your resume: the reader. The reader isn’t the evil applicant tracking system that throws out your resume according to some algorithm. The reader is a real, live person. Your task is to make it easy for him or her to understand what you do and what you have accomplished professionally in one to two pages.
Trust me, I’ve read my share of resumes.
Over the last four years, I’ve averaged between 20 to 35 open technical jobs that I was responsible for filling. In each req, I selected between five to ten candidates to interview and put forward. This equated to between 200 and 350 people I spoke to — every week. Not to mention every hiring manager I spoke to as well.
Over a year, this equals roughly 16,800 resumes. And that’s just the ones that I selected, not counting all the others I declined.
So, take it from me, you’ll want to cut these five things you from your resume, if you haven’t already:
- Multiple Fonts
For the most part, recruiters aren’t going to read your whole resume. They’ll look at your title, company and dates of employment for each job, and then move on. The human eye is a funny thing. If you have several different fonts on the page, it may mess with the reader’s comprehension. They’ll have to reread certain sections of the resume just to make sure they understand — if you’re lucky, that is. If you aren’t lucky, they will just move on to the next candidate. Plus, all those fonts are making my eyes hurt. Please stop.
- References Given Upon Request
We know they are. We will ask you for references if we decide to give you an offer. This is premature in the relationship. All you’ve done so far was send a cover letter and resume.
- Long, Boring Bullet Points
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If a sixth grader can read your resume and understand what you do for a living, than a non-technical recruiter can, too. The odds that the person reviewing your resume doesn’t fully understand what you do for a living are high. That’s why you want to write punchy bullets with accomplishment statements woven in. Use a simple format to present your tasks and achievements quickly. White space is your friend. I promise.
- Funny or Odd Email Addresses — or Worse, Your Company Email Address
It’s a job search. Be professional. I once had a job seeker list “firstname.lastname@example.org” as his email address. After 15 years of doing this work, I still remember it. Enough said.
- Industry or Company Jargon
The reader has no idea what the “Tiger Team” or the “Eagle Project” were. Be safe and drop anything highly technical and industry- or company-specific — especially acronyms. If you must use such language, spell it out. High-tech companies are known for having special languages that don’t translate to anyone outside of the company. Years ago, I read resumes from candidates who were let go from Intel. It was confusing and time-consuming. They were lucky, because I ended up calling them and asking a lot of questions. Most recruiters won’t do that. They’ll just skip over you entirely.
Job seekers often write too much (and never too little) out of fear. They are afraid if they don’t list every little detail on their resume, they won’t get a call to interview. This approach often backfires.
If you put your resume “out there” for 30 days and no one responds, stop sending it out. Chances are what you wrote on your resume works just fine, but you should also know when it’s time to pull the document and refresh it.