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Resume Writing Tips for 2023...Get Past the 10-second Test that Gets you the Interview

Updated: Apr 6, 2023


Ever wonder what recruiters look for in a resume? Is your info up to 2022 standards?


Do you have a modern resume that captures attention for your respective field?


If not, that could be one of the main reasons why you’re not getting callbacks from hiring managers and recruiters. I’m not referring to those fancy PowerPoint and graphic resumes either unless you’re in a super creative field.


In all likelihood, your resume is not being viewed by the human eye and being tossed by the application tracking system (ATS) filters automatically, or, if you’re lucky, it’s being scanned quickly by a recruiter and sent to the ‘decline’ folder.

Is your resume 10 seconds ready?

Recruiters get over 4,000 resumes on a weekly basis and that’s just a conservative estimate. Typically, recruiters work on multiple roles simultaneously and get 100’s of applications for 1 role. In addition, contrary to some beliefs, screening resumes is only a small portion of our job.

Many times, we are managing stakeholders including candidates, hiring managers, and external vendors to name a few, and chances are you are 1 out of 3,999 applicant that needs to be reviewed.

As a result, recruiters have been conditioned to scan your resume in 10 seconds or less to know if it’s worth their time to pursue. Might be surprising to some but It’s really all the time a skilled recruiter needs.

Not knowing what talent acquisition experts look for and what application tracking systems (ATS) filter out is the quickest way to get your resume tossed in the ‘decline’ pile.

Out of 4,000 resumes, many times, a small percentage qualifies for the next round of interviews. This is where some companies invest in ATS tools that will weed out those that don’t meet the minimum qualifications.

Some ATS is not as sophisticated, however, so it’s up to the recruiter to use different tools and tactics to go through the qualified candidates and weed out the others.

What does this mean for you? A qualified candidate who warrants an interview but needs to ensure a human eye reviews their profile.

I’ll ask again, is your resume 10 seconds ready?

There are many job search strategies to get noticed, however, in this topic I'll provide 5 important resume writing tips to increase your chances of securing that first interview by having a killer resume that can easily be shortlisted in 10 seconds.

Full Disclosure: Some links on this blog post may contain affiliate links which means that I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you use one of them with my referral link. If you find the information on this blog useful and need more support building your resume, go ahead and utilize the service - It will help support for more content. Please note that I have personally used the tool(s) shared on this blog and can confidently recommend them.

Think Like a Recruiter


First and foremost, as mentioned, recruiters have very little time to try to depict what you’re about by reading your resume. Might sound a little harsh but it’s the absolute truth.


Your resume should be clear to both the ATS (robot) and to the human eye. Once you understand this concept and spend some time crafting your resume with this in mind, everything else will be a little easier for you as you build that perfect resume’


In with the Headline, Out with the Objective


We live in a society of instant gratification. Instant messages, instant live updates of the news, instant, instant, instant.

How many of you when reading an article, read the headline and/or find the summary to know if you want to invest time reading the whole article?

I’m certainly guilty of that - Perhaps you did that with this blog post as well.

Emulate the same concept when writing your resume. Put in a headline which could be 2 to 3 words (I.e.: Senior Java Developer) or a quick sentence summarizing what you’re all about right at the top.


Go ahead and replace the outdated ‘objective’ section that tells your reader what you’re looking for and want to obtain in your career.

Instead, if you wish, you can add a “Profile” or “Summary” section highlighting the most valuable skill you possess for the specific role you are applying for. Keep it brief, 2-3 lines, short to the point is all you need.

Objectives are outdated and it’s too much about you and what you want. If you want to discuss that in your cover letter you can but I'll discuss my thoughts on cover letters in another topic. It’s not crucial to have a cover letter for most roles in my opinion but could be a good differentiator at times.

Focusing your energy on an amazing resume we’ll get you off to a great start and that’s what I want to focus on.

Format With White Spaces


This is an underrated one. A lot of people get caught up on “how many pages should my resume be?”


1 or 2 pages? Is 3, ok?

The short answer is yes, 3 pages are fine as long as all the information is pertinent and relevant to this specific role you’re applying for. Most of the time, that’s not the case based on my experience.

However, I would rather see a 3-page resume with white spaces, a good font size, and easy to read than a crunched-up 2-page resume with tiny fonts to avoid the third page.

Chances are if you have 3 pages you likely are adding way more than necessary for that specific job.


Make a judgment call but here are a few key things to remember:

Font should not be less than 11pt, keep some space (“white spaces”) in between your bullet points and job history where possible but be consistent throughout. I.e.: Same amount spaces everywhere.

Our eyes are trained to scan from left to right in a “Z” pattern and leaving white spaces makes it easier to read and gives our eyes a break so we don’t lose interest in reading.

Let’s face it, reading a resume is not the most exciting topic so keep that in mind, make it easy! I have personally declined many resumes because I simply lost interest not out of malice but to be efficient with my time.

Talent Acquisition experts and managers can tell when an applicant spent 5 minutes on their resumes and it shows. Text-heavy, unformatted, and just overall hard-to-read resumes are just a big turn-off.

Another important tip is to lead with your job titles first for each job and bold’ them. Recruiters want to see your titles and quickly scan for any progression or consistency in your resume.

List Your Top Keyword' Skills


Take some time to think about the role and draft a list of all the skills you have and the ones you think are important for each role you are applying for.

What are some milestones or awards you obtained that should be highlighted for this role?

Once you have identified the key competencies you possess for the role, list them and also add key professional achievements that are pertinent to the position. Otherwise, remove it!

You can list your technical skills and a few soft skills in two different columns. A good way to find an existing list of skills you may already have is probably on your LinkedIn profile.


Analyze the Job description and the terminologies they use and use similar tone and keywords without copying it verbatim.


Just sprinkle a few keywords that are in the job description if you have these skills. This will help with the ATS as well so you can increase your chances of being on the “shortlist” vs the auto 'disqualified list'.

I suggest that you keep a rough draft of all the skills and achievements saved somewhere so you can easily add and subtract to your resume based on the targeted position.

It’s easy to forget them so if you have an active running list, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Tailor Your Resume for Each Job


This one gets overlooked so often and it’s a common mistake. As mentioned, spend the extra few minutes tweaking your resume to the job you're applying for. If you apply for 3 jobs, you should have 3 different versions of your resume.

How different should they all be? Well, it depends on how different each of these 3 roles are. For most, you would probably apply for similar roles so you likely only require a few minor tweaks.

For those applying for very different roles or making a career transition, your resume should be very different from previous applications and focused on transferable skills in addition to your core experience.

This is why it’s important to keep an active and rough draft for all the projects, skills, and awards saved on your computer for easy access when applying for multiple jobs.


This also helps you prepare for an interview as well so you are really killing two birds with one stone.

Another point, it’s important to realize that it’s not the hiring manager or the recruiter’s main objective to find out what role would be best for you when they are hiring for something specific. Their first priority is the find the best possible talent for that specific position.

We assume if you apply for a role that you have taken the time to review and show the competencies that are most relevant to that position. A huge takeaway for you when you are building your resume.

If you are a ‘jack of all trades' (I.e: you have experience in various fields) that’s great but that’s not going to get you a lot of interviews if your resume reads like you can do any and everything.

A recruiter can certainly look at your resume and refer you to another role but you’re leaving your job search in the recruiter’s hands and gambling with a generic resume.

Help the talent acquisition partner help you - If you make it hard for the recruiter to show you are a good fit to the hiring manager right from the jump, your chances dramatically decrease in securing an interview.

You don’t want the hiring manager to read your resume and think: “Is he or she interested in my role or a job?” Huge difference and it's easy to pick up!


Don't make that mistake!


Rather, do some leg work and network way before applying if you’re not sure. Ask a recruiter, a career service organization, or use a self manage career service website like JobScan to review your resume before applying since you have various skills and experience in different fields.


Ask them to help you narrow down your skills based on the priority of roles you are looking for.

Again, it’s better to specialize when applying and have multiple resumes for each specialized role than to throw out a generic resume in the market and hope for the best.

Recap


The first step in your job search is to ensure you have a great resume and then tailor it even further once you have identified the specific role and company you want to apply for.


How do you do that?


Well, you want to think like a recruiter and ensure you have a resume that can be read in 10 seconds or less. Yes, I actually mean 10 seconds.

A few tips for resume writing success in 2022 include removing outdated sections like having an ‘objective’ and replacing it with a headline.

I also discussed the importance of where you place your job titles, the benefit of having lots of ‘white spaces’, listing keyword skills, and the negative impacts of having a ‘jack of all trades' resume. A common mistake.


It's so important to tailor your resume for the specific position you are applying for which may include adding or removing keywords, projects, awards that directly impact your chances to be shortlisted for an interview.


Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to securing your dream job in 2022.

Which of these tips are you most surprised about?


Are you already utilizing most or all these resume-building strategies?



Full Disclosure: Some links on this blog post may contain affiliate links which means that I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you use one of them with my referral link. If you find the information on this blog useful and need more support building your resume, go ahead and utilize the service - It will help support for more content. Please note that I have personally used the tool(s) shared on this blog and can confidently recommend them.

As discussed, if you need more support with your resume or to see how your current resume stacks up against a job description for a role you are targeting, I recommend trying JobScan. It's a great tool that will give you great tips on how to optimize your resume for that specific job description and by-pass the ATS to increase your chances of getting that interview.



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