Making Resumes Recruiter-Ready

As is the case with most industries the profession of resume writing is trending in new directions and undergoing changes. As writers we know that to make resumes effective for their primary purpose, getting the job candidate an interview, we have to please not only the job searcher, but perhaps more importantly the recruiter or hiring manger viewing the resume.

Career Directors International, a global professional organization for career professionals, recently published their 2012 survey of hiring authorities, so that we in the business can track the latest preferences of recruiters, hiring managers, and others sourcing talent when viewing resumes to make hiring decisions. As one who wants to present my clients in the best possible light to these stakeholders what they think and want matters to me a lot. In sharing some of the more salient, and frankly unexpected, findings of the survey, we can also review what many believe to be conventional wisdom, or should I say old fashioned thinking, about the constructions of resumes.

At the top of the list is the notion that resumes need to be one page only. Only 6% of the respondents felt that way (21% for blue collar resumes) with 34% preferring two pages and a surprising 37% feeling that length is not an issue as long as the content is quality. Given how busy these people are you would think they'd want as brief a document as possible, but apparently not so. But let's not assume this means they want pages of verbose fluff. Three-quarters of the respondents already think that there is too much embellishment in resumes and they want less irrelevant wordiness not more.

Functional resumes are the type that are focused on skills and competencies rather than chronological work histories. They are often used by people who have gaps in their work experience or who are just entering or returning to the workforce after a long absence. General thinking is that recruiters don't like them because of the perceived lack of consistent work experience. But a whopping 72% said "yes" or "maybe" they would consider interviewing a candidate with a functional resume and without a first impression employment timeline. Looks like what you can do might be starting to trump longevity at work.

One of the big challenges in resume preparation is writing the professional summary that serves as a lead in grabbing the attention of the reader. It should tightly communicate brand, strength, and achievement. The question often is whether to include one, and if so, should it be short or long. Again a surprise finding in that 43% are fine with a longer summary version, 18% with a shorter version, and only 17% saying to skip it entirely. A combined 61% of respondents are therefore saying to have one. The unexpected part comes in that reading a longer summary is okay with busy people. I'm getting the message good information is desired even for those with full schedules.

Finally there is a tendency to include new elements into resumes, such as links or QR codes to social media profiles or to present resumes as web based videos. My assumption has been that most recruiters don't like straying too far from predictable, if not traditional, resume styles. Two-thirds said looking at external links is something they would consider, but only 13% would bother with video resumes. Sounds like putting time and energy into your LinkedIn profile may get more viewership than your self-promoting YouTube video.

The bottom line is that there are few if any certainties when it comes to preparing your resume for competition. What is in today probably will be out tomorrow. But one absolute appears to remain: Having a resume that communicates high quality accomplishments and core competencies and that speaks to the position to which you are applying.

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