Regardless of the industry, both hiring professionals and job applicants can be victim to a very real problem in the selection process...Volume. The goal of any recruitment and selection process is to ultimately hire the right people for the right positions. However, as I described in our previous blog People First: Hiring the Eden Way, a company may not have a valid selection process, or may lack the capability to handle the mass volume of applications they recieve. In recent months, one of our southeastern clients had asked us to assist them in recruiting an HR Manager. Without delay we had performed a Job Analysis, developed an accurate job description, prepared the mediums in which we would advertise the open position, and prepared ourselves for the storm that was to come. Within five days the posting (which was not aided by sponsorship investments) had received over a thousand applications, and time was certainly of the essence.
The question this week’s blog seeks to answer is, “What are some things you can do to help strengthen your resume?” While there is not a magic formula that ensures that your resume will be the cream that rises to the top of the applicant pool, we do have some insight that will help you develop a resume that is the best reflection of you!
1. Formatting, Spelling, and Grammar will sink you
Looking back at our real life example mentioned above, if a recruiter dedicated two minutes per application it would take 33 hours in order to review all the resumes in the applicant pool (without bathroom breaks). In addition, that does not take into account the documentation that the recruiter must perform to take accountability and decide whether to pass the applicant forward or to release them. The operative word is, “filtering,” the recruiter or hiring professional will decide on selection tools and processes that will allow them to filter through the resumes more efficiently (afterall, every second spent on an applicant that is not the right applicant equates to a decrease in profit margin). You more often than not will never be given an opportunity to meet the person that is reviewing your resume, they will be assessing your professionalism, and communication skills based solely from your resume. Formatting errors, spelling mistakes, and poor grammar may get you rejected before anyone even looks at the mass amount of experience you may have.
Proofread your resume not once...not twice…but as many times as required for you to feel that it is free of errors.
Have another professional read your resume prior to submitting it to potential employers and offer you any corrections or insights they may have.
Review your resume after publishing it on a job board as a hiring manager would, many job boards use an auto-formatting system. If that formatting system clashes with your formatting, what results is a pretty terrible looking resume.
2. Don’t Fill Holes In Your Resume With Dishonesty
Employment gaps are incredibly common, and are caused by an innumerable amount of reasons. In addition, they can create a negative bias in the mind of the individual reviewing the resume. The best way to address employment gaps is to of course prevent them. If you unexpectedly find yourself unemployed, you must assess the condition of your future job prospects. If you foresee a lag between a previous job and your next position, consider volunteer work, contractor work, continued education or training. It is important to establish that the employment gap time was not spent in idle, but was used to refine and keep your skills up-to-date. If you find yourself behind the 8-ball and beyond the window of time to prevent an unemployment gap, honesty becomes key. I have taken on a variety of HR roles in a number of different industries, and there is a laundry list of ways individuals have attempted to deceptively cover employment gaps. I have seen the relatively innocent attempts to elongate employment dates to cover gaps, and I have seen the more egregious instances where individuals have named themselves as executives of companies that no longer exist or had never existed. While most of these applicants are caught during reference checks or by a bit of investigative work performed by an HR professional, a few of these applicants still manage to slip through the cracks in the selection process. Similar to all deceptions, at some point the truth will reveal itself and these persons will find themselves again unemployed, and sporting a serious black mark on their professional reputation.
Fill unemployment gaps with contractor work, volunteerism, or continued education and training. Employers want to see that you had used that time to improve your self
Be honest about your employment gaps, do not be afraid to make an annotation in your resume that addresses the gap, and explains the reasoning
Do not use deception to cover employment gaps
Do not leave the gap unaddressed, and left to the reviewers imagination
3. The Best Sales Person Doesn’t Need to Embellish
Years ago when I had first embarked on my path in the business world, many professionals had vehemently advised me to “be a great salesman, ramp up your training and experience on your resume to seem more marketable to the employers.” This concept is totally anathema to anyone who has ever had to make a hiring decision. One of the most important concepts in marketing is to never be dishonest or over-embellish a product or service. When a Salesperson over-embellishes a product or service they violate the trust that is implied between them and the customer. Once that customer receives the product or service and realizes it was less than advertised, they will not be pleased. The same reaction occurs when an applicant “pads” a resume, sure it might help you get your foot in the door, but it will inevitably set you on a rocky path with a new employer that may feel as though they have been swindled.
Ensure that your resume is a representation of your best self
Identify your key strengths and what you have to offer to the organization for which you are applying
Use specifics when talking about previous job responsibilities (such as dollar amounts, valuables, number of people managed, etc)
Be honest, do not embellish on items such as responsibilities, dollar values etc.
4. Quality Over Quantity
An interesting trend that I became aware of while serving a number of clients that were in close proximity to each other, was that individuals often times applied for a number of different positions with a number of different companies, but had done so using the same resume. An applicant would apply for a Training Director position at one company, and apply with a nearby company for an Operations Manager position with the same resume. While creating a decent resume and blasting it out on mass to all the businesses that are hiring in your area may definitely be time efficient, it may not equate to your best chance of being hired. From a recruiter’s standpoint, I would prefer the candidate that genuinely seems to want to work for my client rather than someone that is merely looking for employment. The resume must then reflect exactly that concept.
Before creating the final draft of your resume, take some time and research the company for which you are interested in working.
Review job descriptions for the position you are applying for and make sure the final draft is a reflection of how your strengths can best serve that role.
It is our hope that our readers can gain some new insight from the content that we release. New material is released on a weekly basis, and is a great resource for professionals, job seekers, and employers alike. Please subscribe to our blog, and continue to grow and learn with us.
Michael Chiovitti, Chief Talent Strategist
Eden Resources, LLC