The average job search is 18 weeks from start to finish.
A well written resume can decrease that timeline, especially since in many cases the resume is your first impression to a prospective employer. We will explore best practices in resume writing and take a look at how to write your resume so it gets past the dreaded ATS (applicant tracking systems).
Whether you last wrote or updated your resume in the last week or the last decade, it is important to make certain that it the best representation of your experience and skills. The key to every successful resume is an understanding that it is a living document that SHOULD change based on the job one is applying for. The basic structure will remain, but key areas should be edited to speak to the specific job posting and company.
A successful resume should be one page for those who have been in the workforce for less than five years. Executive resumes should be no longer than three pages. The rule of thumb is seven years experience translates into a two-page resume. Ten years or more of experience translates into three pages (at most).
On average, a recruiter and/or employer will spend less than a minute looking at a resume.
Your resume needs to stand out. This does not mean colored text or large bold fonts. The best way to stand out is to have an organized layout that includes four primary sections.
These sections include:
- Objective or Summary – This is where you tell the hiring manager that you have the experience for their specific job. The objective/summary shows that you have thoroughly read the job posting, researched the company and feel that your skills and experience make you the best fit for the position.
- Education – The placement of this section can be based on your time in the industry. If you are a recent grad, this should be right after the Objective/Summary section. If you are a seasoned professional this can be listed after Experience and Skills. The reason for this is that your experience speaks more about your ability to perform than your education.
- Experience – The key to this section is to write in accomplishment and successes the same if not MORE than duties and responsibilities. Share real numbers such as: “increased sale by 45% or 90%”, or “project completed on or x percent before the deadline”. Make certain your experience speaks to the job posting. Since resumes need to be concise, only include past experience within the past 7 years or last 5 positions held.
- Skills – This section is not simply a rewording of the experience section. This section should include skills that relate to the profession. These could be skills obtained either directly through previous paid positions, volunteer experience or professional development.
By following this basic framework, you can create a great template resume that can be easily updated based on the job posting. For even more on creating a great resume check out this infographic.