Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to create a short document (two pages max) that both demonstrates why you are the perfect candidate for the position and backs up your claims with a brief summary of your educational history, work experience, and accomplishments.
Are you overwhelmed? You are not alone. Crafting the perfect resumé that highlights your best features, catches the attention of professional job recruiters, and helps you rank high within the applicant tracking system (ATS) is daunting. This document is a recruiter’s introduction to you, and overcoming this hurdle is your first step toward a job offer. While there are many tricks and tools available that promise to help you appear better than you are, you should understand the implications of employing these tools to your advantage – or disadvantage, as the case may be.
Top Tricks to Avoid:
Using Functional Resumés
For an experienced recruiter, a functional resumé is an attention-getter, but not in the way you want it to be. Applicants using this type of resumé may devote over half of the document to their accomplishments and transferable skills while giving only brief employment and education histories.
While transferable skills such as leadership and critical thinking skills are great to have and apply to a wide variety of positions, a resumé that focuses on them can appear generic. Recruiters are likely to wonder what shortcomings you are hiding behind your plethora of skills. They will dig deeper before giving you serious consideration.
If you believe your resumé is stronger with more emphasis on your achievements, opt for a hybrid resumé. This format allows you to showcase a few top skills or accomplishments at the top of your resumé without overshadowing your employment history.
Obscuring Employment Dates
Do you have a gap in your work history? Did you spend only nine months at your last job? It happens, and sometimes there is a legitimate reason for it. To look better on paper and get to that first interview, you may be tempted to use non-standard date formats on your resumé.
Consider the following scenario. You left your previous job in January 2020 and did not find new employment until November 2020. Traditionally this would appear on your resumé as a 10-month gap in employment. However, by omitting the months from the dates, you can make it seem like you worked the entire year.
You may look like a better candidate at first glance. However, this method does not accurately portray your work experience, and your potential employer will likely discover the truth. Non-standard dates may also cause errors in their ATS, misinterpreting information and misrepresenting you. It is best to be forthcoming and honest about your past.
Stuffing in Keywords
The job description you see is your best clue as to what the company is looking for in its ideal candidate. Therefore, it may seem logical that your best chance at getting that job is to describe yourself using those exact words.
Word cloud tools can help you identify which words appear most often in a job listing. They cannot, however, help you determine which words describe vital job skills or required work experience. You will still have to read the description and decide which words matter most on your own.
Incorporating your experience and proficiencies in these critical areas is essential. However, using keywords in excess, using part of the job description in your resumé, or simply repeating words to increase your chances of ranking high in the ATS are tricks some have tried, and all have failed to profit from. The ATS will pick up on key skills you list in your resumé and pull them out for recruiters to evaluate. It will also show the context in which you used the words. Including them where they don’t belong or using them too often will be obvious to employment recruiters. Too many keywords are more likely to hurt you than help you.
Being too Creative
Yes, you want your resumé to stand out from the rest of the crowd. But you don’t want to stand out due to the bright colors, charts, or other graphics you included on your resumé. Your resumé is not the place to showcase your creative abilities. Your resumé should stick to classy black ink on white paper and use standard formatting. These applications are not only more professional. They are also easier for the ATS to read, allowing you to put your best foot forward.
You might want to include a headshot for a more personal touch. However, including a photo opens the door to discrimination claims. Trained, professional recruiters will prefer to meet you in person after reviewing all the resumés.
Giving Too Much Information
As a first-time job seeker, you probably included all the relevant information you could muster. After 20 years in the workforce, though, you will need to start being more discerning about what information best describes your skill set and is most relevant to the position at hand. A well-written resumé should not exceed two pages. If yours is longer, consider removing old work experience, outdated skills, or experience that does not support your future ambitions.
Limiting your resumé to only pertinent information can help you appear a stronger candidate. It will also inform your potential employer about your understanding of the position and its responsibilities.
Trying to game the system with your perfectly imperfect resumé is a tactic likely to sabotage your chances at that dream job. Instead, consider having a friend or family member read over your resumé. Ask them to give you feedback about sections that sound weak or could use improvement. Whether you are worried about gaps in your work experience or not having enough of it, Utah County recruiting firms will appreciate your honesty in relying on your merits to win them over. And, if you don’t get this job, they have the resources to help you find another.