When we talk about the application process, there is always a lot of emphasis around the resume. It may seem unfair to have to fit all your years of experience onto one or two 8x11 inch sheets of paper, but unfortunately, that’s how it’s done. Candidates put so much work to make their resume true to them by incorporating design, long intellectual sentences, and every single project they have ever worked. The truth is, your resume might be saying too much, and have too much design, which could be working against you. There are common mistakes all candidates have made at some point, and easy ways to get around it.
Too Much Design
With so many companies turning to candidate screening software, AI, and resume databases the vast majority of resumes sent to a company don’t even get looked at by a human. To make things worse, all the design effort you put into making your resume “pop” might actually be keeping the resume database from accurately inserting your information into the system. Text-based resumes are more likely to behave with keyword searches, candidate databases, and screening software giving you the best chance of getting your resume straight to your future boss. The information in the fancy designed resumes gets lost, this is especially prevalent among creatives that try to make their resumes stand out. You can make your resumes stand out without all the design formats. It’s best to keep your resume in a more traditional format and add some visually appealing logos or colors to break the monotony of the reading. Also, be sure your contact information is in a dark color, never white, as it will get washed out when transferring to the white backdrop of the databases.
Every industry and company has acronyms that are pretty universal: PPC, B2C, KPI, SKU. However, keep in mind HR and people from other industries or departments often don’t understand department-specific language. A candidate was once telling us how their resume for a digital marketing application detailed that he had experience creating MAPs (Marketing Automation Programs) that could integrate with GA (Google Analytics) for real-time data. HR’s Response: “Sorry, we aren’t looking to expand into Georgia at this time, nor do we have any need to integrate our systems with any federal or state maps." If you are going to use an acronym, spell it out first with the acronym in parenthesis so the reader knows what this acronym means if they read it later on thru the resume again.
The average resume gets looked at for six seconds. That is not much time for you to get your experience across if they have to read every single word on the page to understand what experience you have. Utilize styling and format to guide their eyes where you want them to go. Put your most relevant information as the top bullet points. Increase the size of your headers (company and position). Utilize LIGHT design techniques to set aside any points that should be focused on or highlighted. While your resume shouldn’t have too much design to confuse resume bots, it should still be intuitive to the reader.
Unnecessary Context Clues
It’s possible for your resume to say too much about you. Having obsolete programming languages, operating systems, or programs will age you and make you seem old school. Similarly, keeping your sorority position on your resume after you graduate will make you appear inexperienced. Too many volunteer positions means you might stretch yourself thin. Look for context clues that might give the wrong impression of you, and limit what you decide to put on your resume.
Out of Scope
While you want your resume to show that you are well rounded, you also need to express that you can excel in your given department. Make your resume as relevant to the job requirements and qualifications as possible. We call this a ‘you need, I have’ or the ‘backward resume approach. Find the job requirements from a similar job posting and write your resume based on what you find out is needed to succeed in the position. Your resume should be able to check off all requirements asked of you plus added skills that are relevant to the position. Irrelevant information is taking up valuable space and the reader’s time. If you have various distinct skill sets, have different resumes for different positions.
Resumes are the art of giving the hiring manager enough to want to meet you, but not too much to overwhelm them. At DCAProsearch we have 20+ years of experience in recruiting and have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of resumes. Give us a call if you are not sure where your resume stands, or if you are looking for the perfect candidate to be part of your company team. We will never overwhelm you with resumes but will send you the top 3-5 candidates that fit your requirements.