Job Search – Resumes From One Recruiter’s Perspective.

Some ideas on how to make sure your resume is one that gets seen... and read.

You’ve seen it for yourself.  You’re starting to get more calls from recruiters or even directly from companies. The job market for marketers has definitely heated up… and at all levels.  The reasons?  Pent up demand?  Healthier growth across a number of sectors?  Could be the companies just couldn’t wait any longer to fill critical needs.  You can only cut so many costs before you have to deal with driving revenues, right?

So what do you do – and what don’t you do – when you decide to start looking for that next opportunity?  Let’s just talk about resumes today.  Just a few do’s and don’ts as you consider you plans.

•    Be careful about signing up for those resume services that offer to send an email blast to every recruiter on their list.  Recruiters get a ton of unsolicited resumes as it is, but the ones that pour in from these services can overwhelm the system and often get short shrift from the folks who do the screening.

•    If you do sign up, be sure you know how your background will be presented when it arrives on the recruiter’s email.  Some formats are totally unintelligible.  Seriously, they break up so badly that it’s impossible to read them.  Given the number of resumes that come in, if it’s hard to read, it probably doesn’t get read, at least not by a partner or principal.

•    Please, please avoid the services that believe that they can help you break through the email clutter by using ten different type fonts and SIZES, BOLD EVERY OTHER WORD, and have decided that italics is a really cool technique.  At our office, these resumes are rejected without being read.

•    I know that some resume experts recommend that you present your life experiences clustered by function or discipline or that you bullet your accomplishments at the very beginning of your resume.  I wish you wouldn’t.  I like to see your accomplishments in the context of a given role so I can see the progression in your work.

•    Some also counsel that you should prepare a brief overview or summary paragraph at the top of your resume.  I’ve done it myself.  Some recruiters like it.  I personally stopped reading them, primarily because they have too often been so generic as to provide no value.

I know the problem.  You don’t want to be so specific that you risk cutting yourself out of an opportunity. But the result is vanilla.  I accept that you are a results-oriented marketing professional with 15 years of experience in the maximization of existing customer potential. 

Or, that you are a results-oriented professional with over 13 years of experience encompassing budgeting & forecasting, reporting, operational/financial analysis and project management.  And that you have demonstrated analytical, communication and organizational skills, coupled with the ability to effectively lead in an environment of tight deadlines and rapidly changing priorities.

Do those things really set you apart?

If you are going to provide a summary, I’d do it in the cover note and find a way to – in one sentence – give me a great reason to read the rest of your resume.  You need a stopper, just like the best print ad or direct marketing piece you’ve ever read or produced.

Then, I want to see the companies you’ve worked for and when.  The job titles you’ve held with them and for how long. And three or four of your accomplishments in each role.  Not just the job description, but the accomplishments. If your company isn’t a household word, please indicate what business it is in.  It helps in understanding the accomplishments.

I want to see all your jobs.  Gaps in resumes scare me.  And I want to know where you went to school, although I don’t necessarily need to know all the extra courses you have taken since you started working unless there was a degree involved. 

If you speak a language, definitely want to know that. Not as interested in hobbies and the like, although many recruiters want that insight.

Regarding length, I don’t believe you have to capture your life on a single page.  I see a lot of those resumes from one particular service and they are not very helpful.  I think you are betting that something on that summary sheet will catch a recruiter’s eye and make them want to contact you for more information.  I think that’s taking a big chance.  I don’t mind two, three or even four page resumes if they have something to say.

One final point. 
If your career has been a series of two-year jobs in a number of companies and even a number of industries, a resume may not be the best way to find a new job.  In a market with a great deal of talent, those kinds of backgrounds are very easy to dismiss.  If you’re in that situation, you need to depend on your network – people who know your work and don’t care about your resume – to help you find your next job.  More about that in the future.