Your resume is the first step in your journey to an interview. You need to be able to pass through the applicant tracking system (ATS) in order to have a live person even know that you applied for a role in most companies today. That piece of paper or electronic profile is often the first impression a recruiter or hiring manager will have of you. Is your resume representing you in the best possible way and landing you the interview?
In today’s competitive job market, a professionally prepared resume may be the one thing that makes you stand out from the hundreds of strong candidates applying for the same position.
The Resume Writers Council of Arizona (RWCA) has been a long-time partner of Career Connectors. Members provide resume expertise to job seekers at all Career Connectors regular events. The members of this group are career-services professionals with special expertise and accreditation in resume writing. Three members took the spotlight on today’s panel to help break down the myths of the resume format, content, and function.
- Brenda Cunningham (BC), owner of Push Career Management, author, and current president of RWCA
- Lori Norris (LN), founder of Get Results Career Services and military resume specialist
- Waleed Alani (WA), career management counselor, coach and Global Career Development Facilitator
The panel was led by Career Connectors’ Founder and CEO, Jessica Pierce with questions submitted by seekers prior to the event.
Q: Share the biggest mistakes you see on resumes today.
LN: Seekers try to cover too much information on one resume. Have multiple resumes for multiple roles.
BC: Seekers use too many adjectives. Example: “high-qualified, multi-faceted, detail-oriented marketing professional.” This isn’t giving actual results from your experience. You are taking up a lot of valuable space telling the hiring manager nothing about how you will perform in this role or for their company.
WA: The biggest mistake many resumes make is not being clear why you should be considered for the role. Connect the dots for the hiring company. Make it clear how your background and experience support the role you are applying for.
Q: Why should seekers listen to professional resume writers?
LN: You shouldn’t listen to a specific professional; listen to the results. Resumes are subjective and no two writers will deliver the same outcome. Pick an expert that you connect with and one that understands your background. If you aren’t getting interviews, you need to rethink what you are sending out no matter how great you think that resume might be.
BC: RWCA members study the current hiring trends, they speak to HR professionals, and they research trends in applicant tracking systems. Certified writers understand what it takes to get in front of recruiters today.
WA: The technology of getting hired is changing as the world is changing. Look at books on job seeking from 5 to 10 years ago. The styles and preferences of resumes were different. The process and systems to support hiring were different from 10 years ago. Professionals will help you stay current with the trends of today and the future.
Q: What are some of the most important things to include on your resume?
LN: Benefits and value statements. Tell the reader how you are going to help the company. The resume isn’t about you; it is how your experience will benefit them.
BC: Don’t be vague by statements like “answered phones.” Demonstrate how you performed and the conditions and measurements of that skill. Explain how you know you did a good job.
WA: Accomplishments must be quantified. Reflect it in the terms of standards or values to the hiring organization.
Q: What are the recommended mechanics of the resume?
Number of pages: 1 or 2 pages as long as your experience and background merit the words. Cut the fluff and focus the content. Avoid “orphan pages” – have 2 full pages or 1 full page. Adjust margins and font size to fill up 2 pages or reduce to 1.
Font Style: Cambria or Calibri – Avoid Times New Roman!
Font Size: 10 – 12 pt
Margins: 1/2″ to 1″
Let the eye decide. Don’t overwhelm the reader.
The book Scarcity: The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives helps you be focused, creative and to prioritize. These skills will allow you to manage the resume length.Waleed Alani
Q: What type of resume should we be focused on?
LN: There are three basic types:
1. Chronological resumes – This style is unanimously recommended by the panel. It is the type you MUST use for ATS systems and should be your primary or only focus. Include not more than 10 years of work history unless you have the specific experience for the role you are applying to.
2. Functional resumes – This type highlights your skills but will not work with an ATS and often raises questions with the reader. These have no dates and raise huge red flags for employers. If you have gaps in your resume, there are ways to work around them. A resume professional can help fill those gaps.
3. Combination resume – This is a hybrid of Chronological and Functional. It may be used for a job fair or networking event but will not pass through automated systems.
Q: How do you avoid age discrimination on your resume?
BC: Age discrimination is real, so don’t give the reader an idea of your age from reading your resume – young or old. Age concerns can be overcome in an interview but you have to get there. Show you are current by taking classes or listing current technology and concept expertise.
Never use “retire” or “25 or 30 years of experience”. Use 10+ or 15+ years. Don’t use antiquated email domains like “AOL.com” or other ’80s domains.
Don’t use dates or years in your email address like JDoe1960@gmail.com.
Don’t put dates on your education, just note the Degree.
Don’t include High School information.
Reverse discrimination is also an issue. If you just graduated, this is the only time that you should use your college graduation dates. It will explain your lack of experience.
Q: Customizing resumes for specific jobs?
BC: Don’t be lazy! Never shoot the one resume out to all job applications. Spend 1-2 hours per application to customize it for the specific company and role. Use keywords from the job posting in your resume. When a specific skill is required, spell out what the skill is and how you have used it.
Don’t just rely on a great resume. Use your network to get referrals into the company.Brenda Cunningham
Q: What is the best way to get past the ATS systems?
LN: AVOID templates! Templates in MS Word may be pretty, but they are full of formatting that an ATS may not read. Use borders and background shading if you want, never have important information in the header/footer. Never use text boxes or tables in your resume because older systems will not read the information within them.
BC: Save and upload files in MS Word format rather than a PDF or any graphic format. Some older systems won’t read PDF files. Also remember, smaller companies and government agencies may not have an ATS so a human is manually scanning them.
WA: Don’t let the ATS scare you. Keep the format simple using text and tabs. Beware of bullets. Make things stand out with font size and bolding rather that fancy document format. Waleed will post more tips on his Linked In profile for resume formatting.
Remember, the resume content should be the focus and represent you to the employer!
All About People, Karen McEnroe, Vice President
They are a professional hiring organization with services to small and large organizations in contract, direct hire, and executive search in several industries, including Accounting/Finance, Supply Chain, HR, and Medical.
Current open positions include:
- Bilingual Call Center Representatives
- RN’s, LPN’s and Behavioral Health Technicians
- Litigation Attorney
- Enrollment Representatives
- SVP of Sales
U.S. Census, Cynthia Duncan, Recruiter
The U.S. Census Bureau is the Federal Government’s largest statistical agency in the U.S. Phoenix is one of two national processing centers dedicated to the 2020 Census.
Processing includes receiving and preparing decennial forms, imaging, keying, QA and forms disposal. Positions range from entry-level to supervisory, IT, HR, Health & Safety. Nearly 1000 full- and part-time federal employees will be hired for these temporary roles with excellent benefits. The processing roles will be at the I-10, I-17 and new Loop 202.
Apply at www.USAJobs.gov
Search Keyword: NPC
Create a profile and apply directly to each job of interest.
Career Connectors Academy, Landi Carfi, VP of Corporate Training
This exciting program is brought to job seekers through a joint partnership with Brighton College. There are a number of short-term IT, Allied Health and other certification programs available at a discounted price for Career Connectors clients. No interest payment plans are also available as well as grants through WIOA and SWFI.
Jessica took the stage to thank all the attendees, partners and services for attending. She also encouraged attendees to take advantage of the free services for resume and LinkedIn assistance, professional portraits, DISC assessments and coaching that are provided at each event. She also had special gratitude to Grand Canyon University for hosting today’s event and the many staff members and volunteers who make these events happen.