July 19, 2006

The art of Resume -- by MS Recruiter

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The art of Resume by MS Recruiter

By Janelle Godfrey
I’ve been asked recently by some candidates what recruiters ACTUALLY look for when screening a resume. I have worked on both sides of the fence:  I spent several years working at the Career Center for MBAs at the University of Washington, assisting students in how to make their resumes POP, and now I find myself on the other side, looking for something that POPS out of a stack of hundreds of resumes.
Let me first say that every recruiter is different; I can only tell you what I look for. Hopefully some of these tips will help you better understand how your experience and skills can translate into getting that highly desired contact from a recruiter.
1.  Keep a constant log of what you do: This may sound silly, but trust me; it’s hard to keep track of everything that you have done in school when it’s occurring in real time. I have always kept a word document of great things I have done ... i.e. an ongoing list of projects, classes, ideas, deliverables, etc that I have been a part of.  This way, when you are looking for ideas, you have a running tab of things that you have worked on. It’s hard to think of things when you are stressed looking for a job; this way you have it all in one place. For instance, when I worked at Expedia on our referral program, I wrote a paragraph about what I did, who it affected, and what the results were. Then when I was looking for a job that required that kind of experience, I was able to stick in a great bullet point in my resume that matched what they were looking for (it also helps on job interview questions. look to this list before any interview and you will easily be able to look back on all you accomplished).
2.  Results:  Everyone has bullet points on their resume (i.e. “Created new programming tool for current team) … but what many people forget is the results of this. Try something like “Created new programming tool for team THAT RESULTED IN"… and say what happened from it. Think more about how you impacted your environments and less about just the basic facts of what you did. Your resume should be about accomplishments and not just a laundry list that reads like a job description.
3.  Consider your audience:  I like to tell students to have several different copies of resumes that correlate to the jobs that they are looking for. You shouldn’t just have one general resume if you have a million different types of experience. The best resumes are those that aren’t five pages. Maybe you have done a lot; maybe you are a PhD and have published 20 different articles … If the job you are applying for doesn’t care, then it’s okay to leave some things out. If you are applying for an IT job and a dev job, then you should have two different resumes that can highlight your experience for each. Whatever gets your point across is always a safe bet.
4.  Proofing by a stranger: When I was working for the MBA program, I heard a statistic … when applying for a job, you should assume that each person who looks at your resume looks at it for an average of 40 seconds … Although I can tell you that I do look at resumes longer, sometimes it’s that first look that really decides someone’s fate. A great way to help you understand how the overall message of your resume reads is by finding a stranger ... find someone in one of your classes or in your department that doesn’t know you. Ask them if they would look at your resume for 40 seconds; then have them flip the paper over and write down the top 3 things they learned about you. This is a great indicator of what others see when they look at your resume. If they say something like, “Where you went to school, your major, and your first job title,” that’s great! If someone can’t get over some bizarre fact or typo in your resume, it’s a safe assumption that recruiters will notice the same thing.
5.  Don’t write checks that you can’t cash:  We have all been in a situation where we need to make ourselves feel more important than we actually were ... a document such as a resume is not the place to do this… make sure that what you put on your resume can be questioned. The worst feeling that a candidate can experience is having to back track on their resume. Let’s say you wrote on your resume that you were the Program Manager for a release during an internship and that you managed all of the other interns during the summer. If you are in an interview and someone asks you your role and you have to say, “well, I never really managed but I was the lead,” then say it, and state how you made the project better. Don’t make up facts; the truth is more impressive because you can confidently speak about it. It’s better to build yourself up in an interview when questioned than have the rug pulled out from under you while caught up in a story.
Well, those are my 5 cents; I hope they shed some light in resume writing. If you have any other questions, I am open to helping you out. I love seeing people able to not only achieve their potential and greatness but also write about it on a resume, with great results.