HR and Hiring Experts Provide 5 Insider Tips for the Perfect Resume
Published: Oct 07, 2010
By Sharon Slayton, for BioSpace.com
I decided it was time to check in with a few of my HR and hiring colleagues about writing the “perfect” resume today. From Genentech to Bayer to Amgen and beyond, I asked the question, “What is the Perfect Resume?” The answers I got might surprise you.
“What is the perfect resume?”
All fifteen professionals I spoke with commented on significant differences between job hunting today and five years ago. “The perfect resume is not what it was in the past, it’s something new.” Five years ago the perfect resume started with you writing down all the great things you’ve done. Today, you must create a resume for each specific job. Former attention-getting advice no longer works and many resume techniques from the past no longer apply. If you haven’t stopped believing the myths, it’s likely to be hurting your job search.
“Computers are evaluating your resume, not people.”
Resume screening technology has been around for 10 years now, and since 2007, ranked in the top 3 in HR technology sales. That means about 90% of all employers utilize screening software; recruiters, HR reps, large and small companies alike. Professionals in industries like healthcare, pharma and bio-tech are increasing their reliance on this screening tool, where education and credentials are mandatory prerequisites, and applicant numbers are high. This technology has advanced significantly in recent years, and incorporates complicated algorithms to evaluate your skills, past work experience, and education to determine your candidacy strength compared to other applicants. Essentially, this means computers are deciding if you are a good match to the job, and computers are deciding who makes the interview short list and who doesn’t. Your clever and compelling resume words had better match the keyword weights and criteria written into the screening software, or you’ll be blasting your resume no farther than an electronic black hole.
“1 out of 5 resumes is unreadable.”
Electronic screening creates a ruthless and impartial barrier between the people who need and want the jobs, and the people who can actually hire them. Most applicants don’t know how to test their resume before they submit it. Then, their resumes are rejected without the benefit of feedback. Job seekers never hear how or why they failed to make the cut, and they’re no more prepared or clued in on their next application to achieve better results.
“Hiring managers don’t have time to read your resume either!”
When this comment started showing up over and over again, I inquired a little further about what happens to these resumes. Here’s what I found out: Nobody’s reading your resume the way you think they are. In fact, hiring managers don’t usually see your application and resume until the day of your interview, and often, not until minutes before.
“You still need a great resume!”
Hiring the right person is still a personal and human decision, and eventually, people actually do read your resume. When? They peruse your resume further if they’re still interested after the interview. They pass it around among their colleagues when decision making time comes. And of course, the HR department uses it to complete their personnel files.
Despite these facts, it’s amazing how many people still think they have the perfect, one-size-fits-all resume! According to real insiders, if you really want the perfect resume, you should keep these 5 simple thoughts in mind:
1. Applicants need to research the keywords important to the job. The ultimate list should include exact language from the job description and incorporate in-depth industry knowledge. In the past, this was very time consuming. Today, there are affordable services to make this process quick and easy.
2. Highlight years of experience and put bullet point summaries up front. Include relevant company name(s) in parentheses alongside these summary items to make for fast and easy cross-reference reading!
3. Unless requested, save your cover letter for after the screening process. Try sending one with your interview confirmation, or bring one with a fresh resume copy to your interview! Your cover letter will have more meaning and impact if you save it for an actual person to read immediately before or after your interview.
4. Apply a little “shock and awe” approach by touting some company knowledge up front. If the company is publicly held, check with the Chairman’s annual letter to stockholders for some easy references to company goals, issues and initiatives, and try fitting them into wording on your resume.
5. Why not use the software screening system to your advantage? Get better response results by targeting the places you apply. Pick out 5-10 jobs you really want, find at least 5-10 keyword matches between them, and then make your resume conform. Once you return to the job boards, use the nouns, phrases and verbs you’ve targeted and transferred to your resume as search criteria. You’ll spend less time rewriting your resume, and more time responding to the right ads!
Sharon Slayton is a former healthcare information specialist, and a well known Bay Area job coach, writer, and business consultant.