Lily Zhang, Career Development Specialist at MIT, told several hard truths.
1. «If your relevant experience, education, or skills are hard to find at a glance, your resume might as well be blank.»
It’s understandable to want to make your resume stand out a bit from the typical resume, but getting creative in InDesign isn’t the way to do it. As the head of Google’s HR states, «Unless you’re applying for a job such as a designer or artist, your focus should be on making your resume clean and legible.»
2. If it’s not immediately clear from your experience why you’re applying, no one will connect the dots for you.
Whether you’re a career changer or just applying for a reach position, if a recruiter’s initial reaction to your resume is confusion, you’re not going to get very far.
So, make sure you connect the dots for the reader. It’s likely that you have an idea of how your skills can be transferred or why you’re more skilled than your years of experience might let on. But, unless you spell it out on your resume, the recruiter probably won’t be able to put the pieces together—and you’ll never have the chance to explain in person.
3. If your resume is difficult to skim, it probably won’t be read at all.
There’s some debate over how much time a recruiter will spend looking over a resume, but everyone agrees that it’s less than 20 seconds. What does that mean for job seekers? It means your resume needs to be as easy to read—really, skim—as possible.
4. If you expect to get your resume in front of a hiring manager, you need to first make sure you get through HR.
That means making sure a layperson can understand what you’re talking about in your resume. It doesn’t matter if you’re managing complicated supply chains, coding complex algorithms, or conducting cutting-edge research on nanolasers—none of your impressive feats will reach the appropriate hiring manager if you can’t at least explain it in a way that a nontechnical human resources representative can understand well enough to put you in the right pile.
5. If your contact info isn’t correct, nothing else matters.
Finally, don’t be that person who has everything a recruiter is looking for but is just impossible to contact. Check, double check, and test your contact information. Typos are always bad, but a typo in your contact information is probably as bad as it gets. It’s a really crummy feeling to notice an incorrect email address a couple months into your job search. Don’t let that be you.