Preparing for Your New Year, New Career
Part I: How to Write an Effective Technical Resume
Don't let 'em hire blindly - make your resume organized and concise so recruiters have more time to discover the person behind the resume!
The New Year inspires many working professionals to reevaluate their situations. Unfortunately, those who decide to seek new opportunities often become frustrated with the first step of revising the resume because they don’t know how to go about it.
A good place to start is by learning what internal recruiters and human resource professionals, as the decision makers within the hiring organization, do during the resume review process. Why do they choose to follow up on certain resumes and not others? Some researchers inspired by this question utilized eye-tracking technology to record where and for how long recruiters focused when they reviewed resumes and online profiles. The results of this recruiter behavioral analysis offer insight into ways job seekers can optimize their resumes.
The study found that members of hiring organizations spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume and that almost 80% of that time is spent on the candidate’s:
- Current title, company, and start and end dates
- Previous title, company, and start and end dates
The eye-tracking data revealed that beyond glancing at this basic data, internal recruiters, corporate recruiters, and HR professionals did hardly more than scan for keywords that would indicate the candidate was qualified for the open position. In fact, the initial six seconds of resume reviewing (aka, the aforementioned items) largely determined recruiters’ good-fit decisions!
Make Every Second Count
If you want the hiring-decision makers to digest as much relevant and useful information about you as possible in that brief time they spend reviewing your resume, you should:
- Center your name at the top of the page, with your contact information directly beneath it.
- Include a one-sentence objective statement at the top of your resume. The format and wording will vary based on your knowledge, skill-level, and previous experience:
- Still-in-school: To obtain a Software Development Intern position with [name of potential employer] where I can utilize my education and high technical aptitude to assist the company in its full-cycle development of [name or description of company's core product].
- Entry-level / Junior: Seeking a [job title of position you hope to obtain] position at [name of potential employer] where I can utilize my knowledge of [list known languages] and previous internship experience to [key function of the position you hope to attain].
Mid-level / Senior: [At most, two adjectives that describe you] [current job title] seeks to obtain a position as a [job title of position you hope to attain] at [name of potential employer] where I can use my knowledge of [list known languages] and my experience in [key function of the position you hope to attain].
- Underneath your purpose statement, provide your security clearance level (if applicable) and a technical purview of the languages, frameworks, RDBMS, software tools, and operating systems you have knowledge of or experience with.
- Bold companies and start and end dates, and italicize and bold position titles. It’ll help recruiters find that information faster!
- Be specific with job titles. Include your place in the team (e.g., Junior, Mid-level, Senior) and up to three key technical skills you used in your position (e.g., Senior Software Engineer – C#, .NET, SQL).
- Use bullet points, with explanatory items beginning with verbs and being at most two lines in length. The positions you include on your resume should include at most four explanatory bullets, and you should be consistent with the number (i.e., Do not have one descriptive statement for one position, and four for another.).
- Separate sections with white space.
- Create a clean look by formatting all text except for your name and contact information aligned left (Ctrl + L) and justified (Ctrl + J). The study’s eye-tracking technology recorded that recruiters’ eyes tended to focus on the text centered at the top of the page and became less-focused as they moved from the left to right margin.
Overwhelmed by these self-revision tips?
Consider working with a third-party agency. Companies often use staffing services because although they know that selecting the best-fit for the position takes more than six seconds, their HR department doesn’t have the time or resources to execute a thorough hiring process in addition to their other obligations. In addition to many other services, a reputable staffing agency is one that will assist you in appropriately formatting and revising your resume and promote you as a person as opposed to just a resume.
Remember: Less is more! An organized and concise resume makes for an “easier read” and gives recruiters more time to discover additional information about you that’ll convince them you’re a good fit for the position.
Check back next week to learn how the study’s findings can be applied to make your LinkedIn profile more attractive to recruiters.
Download the complete study results here.
Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net