Job Search Tip of the Week #1 (2017)


Preparing for Your New Year, New Career

Part I: How to Write an Effective Technical Résumé

The New Year inspires many working professionals to reevaluate their employment situations. Unfortunately, those who decide to seek new opportunities often stop searching before they even begin because they become frustrated with the first step of revising their résumé.

A good place to start is by learning what internal corporate recruiters and human resource professionals – the gatekeepers of the hiring organization – do during the résumé review process. Why do they choose to follow up on certain résumés and not others? Some researchers inspired by this question utilized eye-tracking technology to record where and for how long recruiters looked when they reviewed résumés and online profiles. The results of this recruiter behavioral analysis offer insight into ways job seekers can optimize their résumés.

The study found that members of hiring organizations spend an average of six seconds reviewing a résumé and that almost 80% of that time is spent looking at the candidate’s:

  • Name
  • Current position, employer, and employment dates (start and end)
  • Previous position, company, and employment dates (start and end)
  • Education

The eye-tracking data revealed that beyond glancing at this basic data, internal recruiters and HR professionals did hardly more than scan for keywords that would indicate the candidate was qualified for the open position. In fact, recruiters decided whether a candidate was a good fit based largely on the information they gathered during the first six seconds of looking at a résumé!

Make Every Second Count

If you want the people who decide whether you move forward in the hiring process to digest as much relevant and useful information about you as possible in that brief time they spend reviewing your résumé, 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 résumé. The format and wording will vary based on your knowledge, skill-level, and previous experience. Some examples:
    • Still-in-school: To obtain a software engineering internship with [potential employer] where I can utilize my education and high technical aptitude to assist the company in the full-cycle development of [name or description of company’s core product].
    • Entry-level/Junior: Seeking a [job title] position at [potential employer] where I can utilize my knowledge of [list known languages] and previous internship experience to [key function of the position].
    • Mid-level/Senior: [One or two adjectives that describe you] web developer seeks to obtain a position as a [job title, if it’s not a lateral move] at [potential employer] where I can use my knowledge of [key languages relevant to the position] and my experience in [key function of the position].
  • 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 employment dates, and italicize 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 résumé should include at most four explanatory bullets, and you should be consistent with the number (i.e., don’t have one descriptive statement for one position, and four for another).
  • Identify and quantify your accomplishments, which differentiate you from the other applicants who share your job title (and by deduction, job responsibilities). If you choose to discuss functions of your position, include any technologies that you used (e.g., “Engage in full-cycle development of client-customized, consumer-facing financial web applications using C#, .NET, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and SQL”).
  • 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 revealed that the eyes train on the text centered at the top of the page and become less-focused as they moved from the left margin to the right.
Overwhelmed by these self-revision tips?

Consider working with an IT recruitment agency like Chase Technology Consultants (CTC). Companies often use staffing services from third-party agencies like CTC 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 like CTC will assist you in appropriately formatting and revising your résumé and present you directly to hiring managers as a person, not a piece of paper.

Remember: Less is more! An organized and concise résumé 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 hiring managers and recruiters!

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