I recently read a study published by TheLadders, a comprehensive job-matching service, that determined you have an average of six seconds to catch the eye of a recruiter. Six seconds is an extremely short time for such a life changing opportunity. That recruiter could hold the key for you to get your foot in the door to your “dream job,” or at least an opportunity that might be better than your current one. I wanted to take a quick second to take their findings and compare it to the perspective of a recruiter. Below the findings from TheLadders, I have included my input on each of the topics:
- Less is More. We all know the one-page rule, but that doesn’t mean one page with smaller margins, in 8-point font. By knowing what recruiters are scanning for, you can emphasize what is apparently important to them. Knowing what they spend the majority of their time looking for, gives you the benefit of proper delivery.
The concept of “less is more” is relevant but I do have to take a stance against some of their arguments. The “one page rule” is very elementary and just doesn’t apply in the IT world. It is extremely hard (almost impossible) to fit an experienced technical candidate’s technologies and projects on one page. I agree with not including irrelevant information but sometimes one page just isn’t going to give the detail that a recruiter wants and needs.
- Cut the Clutter. No one except for your buddies cares that you enjoy ice fishing. Stay relevant and cut out anything that doesn’t relate to your professional experience. Extra words and jargon have to go as well. According to this research, an impressive vocabulary and wordy resume won’t get you anywhere.
“Cut the clutter” is something that I believe every recruiter, IT or not, can agree on. I will read a resume and see “Enjoys skydiving” on the resume and think to myself, who cares? A good recruiter will look at a candidate’s abilities and then take the time to get to know the candidate and assess their cultural fit with their client.
- Format for Success. The easier your resume is to read, the easier it is to absorb the information. You already know what they’re looking for, give it to them and give it to them in bold. The eye loves white space. It sounds counterproductive, but leave room for some paper by cutting down on the clutter and avoiding large blocks of writing.
“Formatting for success” can be productive, but I feel that, sometimes, it can hurt a candidate. Nothing will turn a recruiter or hiring manager off more than when someone bolds a relevant technology and then cannot speak thoroughly about the skill. You lose all credibility if you bold, underline, or highlight something that you are not an expert in. Be careful in what you are claiming to know/have done, if you are claiming to be an expert by bolding, you better be ready to talk the ins and outs of what you know about it.