Resume Building


What should Recruiters look for on a Resume?

Resume HELP

One of my clients told me they were offered a new job. Upon receiving the offer, the hiring manager exclaimed that when they viewed her resume, they *simply had* to discover the individual responsible for such a remarkably crafted document! She had, interestingly, gotten less positive feedback from some other people. Despite its slight unconventionality, she kept her resume as it was and ended up getting a great job.

A plethora of viewpoints

If anything drives job seekers crazy, it's likely the 7 different opinions they get when they ask 7 people to review their resume, with each opinion differing on what is and isn't working about the document. As a resume writer, I too find this situation challenging; no matter how impressive I believe a resume to be, there is always somebody who disagrees with some aspect of it.

In order to dispel the rumors and folklore that often accompany discussions of resume writing, Career Directors International conducted a survey of recruiters, human resource professionals, and hiring authorities and released the findings in Global Hiring Trends 2012.

If you can, I encourage you to read the entire report (see the link at the end of this article). Full of illustrative graphs and charts, it is a quick read. Here, I am highlighting some of the most salient results to give you an idea of what's in there.

Discover the Reality of Page Limits!

Whether their resume can be more than one page - or even more than two pages - is a question that is asked extremely frequently by job seekers. Someone asked during one of my "Top 10 Ways to Make Resume Writing FUN" webinars whether a resume could be automatically rejected by a company for going over the 2-page limit. These fears are, for the most part, unfounded, and I am pleased to share this news.

Executive Resume Page Preferences

Of the respondents in the survey, 37% said that "length is not an issue as long as the resume provides the right data to make decisions," 8% actually preferred a 3-page resume, and 6% preferred a 1-pager! Of the people surveyed, only 34% preferred a 2-page resume. Only 5% of respondents stated that they would penalize an executive candidate for having a resume that did not meet their preferences, whereas 58% indicated that they would NOT do so, which is perhaps the most important outcome.

Several respondents stated that 5 pages was the maximum length they would read - here's a surprise to me! Ladies and gentlemen, did you hear that? A resume that is five pages long! Any executives attempting to squeeze their resume onto 2 pages should consider this reality check. Meeting some mythical page requirement is less important than including essential information such as achievements and experiences. A resume that packs a punch and conveys a persuasive message regarding the executive's potential contributions to a company is usually read, no matter how long it is.

Preferences for Non-Executive Resumes on a Page

A higher preference (37%) for 2-page resumes is seen in non-executive resumes, while 21% of respondents did not have a preference. 21% of respondents preferred one-page resumes for non-executive resumes, whereas only 6% favored a 3-page resume. I'm betting on the 2-page resume for non-executives!

The page length issue can be concluded with the phrase "It's not size that matters - it's content!" 54% of respondents stated that the length of a resume would not be a major factor if it was well-written and highly targeted. One respondent commented, "I don't care about the number of pages, as long as there is a purpose for them and I can find value in the content." If, however, the résumé contains nothing but 80 separate lines of job duties, it is a waste of both space and my time. A 1-page resume that does not provide the necessary information could also be said.

Format and Design of a Resume

Questions regarding format and design rank highly on jobseekers' question lists. The question about graphs and charts on resumes was the one that most interested me. A surprising 33% of respondents have yet to receive a resume with a chart or graph. Of those who had seen charts and graphs, 24% found them helpful or very helpful, whereas 22% found them distracting. I think that, in a conservative industry, it is probably best to stick to the classic bullet format; however, in more innovative industries, charts and graphs can be a great way to provide a fresh approach, even though the results of this study are rather inconclusive. Charts and graphs might also be very effective for someone climbing the ladder within the same company.

The possibility of viruses had me also intrigued by the response to rumors that some recruiters and hiring managers never click live links. This survey paints a different picture of the results. Of the respondents, 17% reported that they never click on links, while 62% stated that they sometimes or always click on hyperlinks when provided.

The survey found that, by far, Word (.doc or .docx) is the preferred format for receiving resumes, although 23% preferred .pdfs in terms of format.

Giving Yourself Credit

I have started including testimonials on nearly every resume. Do you want to put them on yours? 29% of respondents said that testimonials would influence their decision positively, even though 41% said they would not. I have enough support to keep using testimonials when space permits, in my opinion. I'd prefer for someone else to give compliments to my clients instead of the clients boasting about themselves. You might also want to find a quote that you can use on your resume.

Without Exceptions

There are no exceptions to the rules.

This survey made it clear to me that there are no definite rules when it comes to writing a resume. I believe that, by communicating your skills and accomplishments honestly and professionally, in a manner that reflects your true self, you will have the best chance for success. My client discovered that, unfortunately, it is impossible to satisfy everyone's opinion, as there are numerous perspectives. The one who hires you is the only person that you ultimately need to impress.


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