You think you know everything there is to know about resume writing? “The algorithm for resumes has changed significantly, even since last October.”
The most noteworthy shift since the economic meltdown began last fall is that most people make the mistake of writing resumes for actual people. “Humans aren’t reading resumes anymore.”
Instead, they are being fed and processed to online resume software systems that are programmed to look for specific key words. If certain skill sets are not detected, the resume is summarily rejected well before an actual breathing person has a chance to read that you have an interest in photography and “work well with others.”
Anderson, who teaches free seminars on career search advice, interviewing tips and resume writing, says this online resume revolution has rewritten the basic rules of how resumes are crafted. Here are a few pointers to write for these resume software algorithms:
Don’t worry about length – The old rule of thumb was that resumes should be short and sweet–keep it to one page, maybe two, max. Today, however, resume software looks for page counts. “There are so many one- or two-page resumes out there.” “And when the software sees that, it assumes you have little experience.” So feel free to add details about accomplishments at each previous job that would relate to the position for which you’re applying.
Forget about a career objective – Most resumes start out with a statement about what the applicant wants in a career, then goes through a list of past experience and then lists a set of job skills. Nowadays, this structure should be inverted, Anderson says. Resume software is trained to look for technical skills first, so be sure to list them up front, before you even get to your past work experience. “Whatever is listed first is assumed to be your most important skill, so be sure to order you list with your strongest skills up front.”
Get certification whenever possible – Having a college degree is still essential, but it may not be enough to make your resume stand out. It’s often worthwhile, Anderson says, to get some kind of job training or certification for certain skills that would be applicable to your career. If you have taken an course in InDesign or C++ programming, don’t hide it way at the bottom. Earning a certification in the Scrum project management system, for instance, will cost about $600, Anderson says, but it can be done in a single weekend and can help move your resume to the head of the queue.
Present an professional online profile – While most resumes are still thought of as pieces of paper, they are rapidly becoming a list of links to online sources with which hiring managers can conduct research. “When you submit a resume, the software automatically looks at your profiles in LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, so be careful about adding any inappropriate content to these sites.”
What a lot of people don’t realize, he adds, is that many companies look beyond the usual social networking sites to find out more about your life. And the amount of information that is available for free is pretty disturbing. “After LinkedIn, the next place [the resume software] will look will be Zillow to look up your address find out the value of your home.” “There’s a lot that can be learned from this. Are you carrying a very high mortgage? Will you want to relocate to their office in Boston if you just bought a new house? Do they want to hire someone from Marysville if the candidate has to commute to Redmond every day? They’ll use a lot of this information to second-guess your application.”