During the few short seconds spent perusing your resume, hiring managers typically focus on a few key areas, such as your most recent work experience and your education. However, according to an eye-tracking study performed by The Ladders, certain important sections can be overlooked if your resume isn’t up to par, possibly resulting in key information being missed.
Reasons for recruiters losing interest in your resume can range from a cluttered appearance to incomplete information to simple typing errors. But while there are countless faces of a “bad” resume, many great resumes have several core characteristics in common.
Some such characteristics are:
- Sufficient spacing. While it can be difficult enough to fit your credentials into a page or two, be sure to leave enough white space to separate sections and draw the hiring manager’s eyes to important information. Resumes have to be legible and easy to scan, and presenting an employer with large blocks of unbroken texts works against that goal.
- Results-orientation. Not only does a good resume focus more on accomplishments than duties, it puts the results first. It’s much more effective to say “Achieved X by Y” than “Performed Y and achieved X,” as the achievement itself is the first thing the recruiter sees. It’s also shorter to do so, saving you space for better use.
- Statistics. Results should include specific keywords and numbers, where possible, to quantify accomplishments. For example, a great sales resume will often feature a statistic like “increased sales by x%.” This gives the recruiter an idea of how much of an impact you made at your previous position and what you’re capable of bringing to the table in the next company.
- No objective. In most cases, an objective statement is unnecessary, outdated, and too space-consuming. Instead, try including a small blurb at the top of your resume similar to an elevator pitch that sums up your professional brand and goals. This is a great way to introduce yourself to the employer and show that you have a consistent, representable brand.
- Clear, concise contact information. Every resume should have a name, phone number, email, and a link to your website, blog, or LinkedIn profile. Great resumes display this information clearly at the top and only include one phone number and one email address to make it easy to contact you.
- Strategic organization. The best resumes not only make excellent use of the space they’re given, they also make use of the organization of that information. Listing most recent work history first, for example, is a great way to ensure the right information is seen first.
Of course, every resume is different and many aspects of resume building can change by employer, industry, or personal preference. Some do still prefer to see an objective, for example, while others consider it unnecessary and outdated. Similarly, some employers may ask you to arrange your work experience in order of relevance rather than chronological order. This is where knowing how to tailor your resume to each application comes in handy—but for a resume you can hand out to networking contacts and present yourself with in general, the above tips can help you be on your way!