Studies show that most recruiters don't spend more than 12 to 15 seconds scanning your resume. That's the amount of time you have to make a positive impression on your potential employer. In order to optimize your potential for a callback, consider the following five things recruiters care about in your resume.
1. Your Title
The first thing that catches a hiring manager's eye is the title at the top of your resume. Does it match the job description? If not, the recruiter is not likely to continue reading. Your resume should be tailored to match the company's job description. This shows potential employers that you have the required skills and experience to succeed in the position.
2. Your Timeline
Most recruiters like to see a healthy mix of stability and risk-taking within your resume. While hopping from job to job every six months isn't likely to win you any fans, neither is getting comfortable at the same employer for years with no growth. Hiring managers also look for major gaps in your employment, so be prepared to explain what you were doing during your time off between jobs.
3. Your Accomplishments
If your resume only lists your everyday responsibilities for each position, update it right away. Recruiters don't care that you can operate a computer or put together business correspondence; they expect all of their candidates to be capable of these basic duties. What they really want to see are accomplishments: what awards, certifications, projects or presentations did you complete? What ideas did you come up with? In short, how did you make the company better? This type of information should be what's listed in the bullet points, not daily tasks.
4. Your Keywords
These days, your resume is likely to be scanned into applicant tracking software before making it into the hands of a real person. To make it through that first round, it must contain the right number of keywords that the employer designates. These are most often based on the company's job description, so scan it thoroughly and make sure your resume uses the same terms and phrases.
5. Your Look
Even with all the right content, your resume won't get much traction if it's too cluttered, wordy, sparse or otherwise visually unappealing. For best results, keep it simple and sleek. Use bullet points and short phrases instead of long sentences and paragraphs. Use a standard, legible font such as Helvetica or Arial. Don't get carried away with images, color or borders. Finally, comb your resume over and over again to be sure it is completely free of spelling or grammar errors.
Recruiters may not give your resume more than a passing glance, but you can still get results if you hit the marks they're looking for.
Photo courtesy of Rachel Romaszewski at Flickr.com