I see and review hundreds of resumes a week and have been doing so for over 10 years. Whether you’re sending your resume to a recruiter at a staffing company or sending it to HR at a company, you need to realize that certain information needs to be presented in the proper way to keep your resume from going in the bit bucket (electronic trash can).
Most companies large and small use Applicant Tracking Systems. The ATS takes resumes that were submitted by email or via job sites or company websites and parses them and adds them to a searchable database. The ATS is not a replacement for humans but is intended to take out some of the manual resume handling and automate it to make it more efficient. A human is still required to view new resumes and determine if the skills on the resume match the skills required by the job description.
I want you to have the best chance at getting that next job. Here are suggestions for you to ensure your resume will at least get reviewed.
Be Nice and Professional: Always, always, always be nice and professional when talking to recruiters or anybody else in the interview and hiring process. This not only includes phone calls or meetings. Even in email or SMS texts, always be nice and professional. Recruiters have a lot more power over you getting the job than you may know. ATS systems allow recruiters to leave notes in candidate profiles. "He was rude to me" or "What a jerk!" is sometimes added to a profile. I can assure you, if you are rude to a recruiter, this is something they will note in your profile and your profile may be in the ATS for years. You don't want these comments because a recruiter will reject you without even reading your resume if another recruiter has bad things to say about you. It doesn't matter if you like or hate recruiters, they have a job opening and you want it so be nice and professional at all times.
Contact Information. You’d be surprised how many resumes I’ve seen that are missing contact information. No email address, phone number, or anything. I think to myself, “Are you looking for a job? If so, why make it hard for me to know how to contact you?”
What’s worse is that some ATS systems won’t enter a new resume into the database without certain information like an email address. If that’s the case, your resume won’t even be seen at all and will be sent to the bit bucket by a program automatically. That’s really sad.
So, why make it hard for somebody to contact you? Put your full name, email address and phone number in your resume. Also, include your location. Missing these things could get your resume dumped in the bit bucket.
Appropriate Skills. These days with sites like Indeed which have these one-click to submit buttons, it’s so easy to read a job title and click submit resume. One of the quickest ways to get yourself dumped in the bit bucket is by not taking the time to read the job description so that you know or feel you have the skills for the job.
I’ve received resumes for senior technical positions like Java and .NET developers, System Admins, and such from candidates that are gift wrappers and cashiers. When we post a job with a title of “IT Infrastructure Security Engineer,” for example, we’ll get resumes from security guards and police officers. Really?
If you're not a fit, don't submit. Don’t end up in the bit bucket.
Don’t bombard recruiters with your resume every week. We’ve had people submit their resume to the same jobs over and over again. Sometimes several times a day. Does the resume spammer think we’re not getting it? I know how job seekers hate recruiters that never respond. However, Craftlogic recruiters respond to every single resume we get. That being the case, it wears us out if you spam us with your resume.
The neat little thing about ATS systems is that I can mark a candidate as unqualified. That means that no matter how many times the job seeker submits his or her resume, it will be hidden from us and we’ll never know it was submitted. Being marked unqualified is the last thing you want to have happen.
So, don't be a resume spammer. Instead, call the company and ask about your submission. Craftlogic has a phone number which goes directly to recruiters, we have email addresses that go directly to recruiters, and we have a chat widget on every page of our site where you can chat with a recruiter in real-time. We also have a way for you to schedule a call with a recruiter by picking a time and day on our recruiting calendar. Other companies have similar options. If you’re not getting the response you deserve, stop the emails and use one of the other options.
Skills List At the Top. When I get 100 or more resumes in a day, make it easy for me to know your skillset. If I have to wade through your resume, I might give up and bit bucket your submission. A nice skills section above your job experience is important. Only put in this section those skills you have personally done yourself. I don’t care what somebody else on your team has done. I care only about what you have done and have personal experience doing.
If your skills look like they could satisfy my job requirements, then I’ll dig deeper into your resume. If not, I’ll move on. I’ve actually had .NET/C# jobs where I get resumes and .NET and C# is not even mentioned. Off to the bit bucket it goes.
Your skills section is like your foot in the door. It tells me quickly that this person may be the right match for my job. It might be enough to get me to contact you to confirm these skills. This is what you want to have happen.
Details of Skills used on each job. Let’s assume you have a Skills List that interested me. Now, I want to know where you used these skills. In your Job Experience section is where you tell me that information.
Like I mentioned, I want to only know what your experience is. I don’t care what technologies were used in total for the project but only those with which you have direct experience.
Many times people would put all the technologies used for a particular project. I see the acronyms listed so I ask questions about each one. If you can’t answer, then to me you lied about your experience. So, don’t put it on your resume if you haven’t personally done it.
Don’t send just a 1-page resume. I’ve heard about recruiters and resume experts and even colleges and universities that say your resume should only be one page. That may be true for some careers. For IT, I first want to know your skills and then I want to dig deeper into your past jobs to see how you used those skills.
If you have little or no experience, then fine. Otherwise, let me know more about you and how you might be a match for my job by showing me what you’ve done on your current and past jobs. If you've been in IT for 10 years and you send me a 1-page resume, just know your resume is headed for the bit bucket.
Plain and Simple. Don’t try to make your resume pretty. Make it plain and simple. I don’t care how artistic you are unless I’m hiring an artist. If you’re an IT person and you do user interface design, then attach your portfolio but make your resume plain and simple.
Remember, you’re not the only one that sent me a resume today. I have 99 more I need to go through today. Make it hard for me to read your resume or overly embellish it with graphics and pictures, and I'll bit bucket it.
Be Responsive. If you’re going to send us your resume, then respond back to us if we email, call or text you. Jobs can be filled in a day or two so any delay on your part and it may be go against you. Time kills opportunities.
Recruiters are notoriously bad about being non-responsive. I hate that but it’s true. This is what I think about The Culture of Non-Responsiveness.
Bottom Line. Recruiters are people too. They often get a bad rap and often they deserve it. But, they’re still people who look through hundreds of resumes per week. Make it easy for them and it will go better for you.
Remember when you send us your resume, you're competing against many others. Don't take this lightly. This is life. You are always competing against others so do your best because somebody else is doing their best and they want the same job.
P.S. Don’t think that I’m sticking up for recruiters and staffing firms. I’m not. I’m just explaining to you how it is. If you want to know how I feel about IT staffing firms, then read IT Staffing Firms Suck!
Now, go get that job!