There is so much information available about how to make a resume you can be left overwhelmed and confused. Knowing how resumes are selected can help you. Resumes are selected based on the criteria of qualifications, formatting, correct spelling, font sizes and so on. However, the number one reason why resumes are selected is not known by most job hunters and at one time was a great mystery to me.
While most of this next story is about common sense, this is what led to my discovery of the number one reason resumes are selected. Here is a true story that about how resumes are chosen that I hope helps you learn how to make a resume that gets chosen.
James dow was a manager for a software company in the Midwest. When he received over tonnes of resumes in five days for one IT management opening, he called me and requested my experience to assist him in screening the candidates. James had advertised nationally for a local position. I asked him to have all one thousand one hundred twelve resumes he received available for our appointment. When I arrived, Jim directed me to a conference room with a table completely covered by stacks of envelopes. Consider checking Resume examples for your reference.
“I have one thousand one hundred twelve hard copy and digital resumes. You can see my quandary. I don’t have time to read all of these. I need somebody within two weeks.” James said as he scratched his head in puzzlement.
“This seems harder than the days when we couldn’t get enough qualified candidates. Will you show me what you would do?” he questioned.
“First could you please get me a couple of large boxes and mark rejected on them for me?” I replied.
Scenario: Employers have A and B resume piles, and sometimes C. A could be for accepted and B could stand for Bad, and C might stand for can, as in trash Can. The C pile can also be the D pile – D is for Delete.
Jim came back with two four-foot high boxes.
“Just keep count for me.” I immediately went to work, opening, sorting, and dropping resumes in the boxes.
“How are you making decisions so quickly?” he asked.
“I don’t want any resumes that have staples, have been placed in fancy binders, or are oddly folded.”
“Why you’re not even opening some. Do you have x-ray vision?” Jim queried.
“Was your name and company name in your ad?“
“Were they both spelled correctly?”
“Yes, I check our ads,” Jim answered.
“Then do you want someone running your IT department who can’t get the answer right even when it’s been given to them?”
“No of course not!” Jim smiled.
Scenario: There are two misspellings that will eliminate you faster than any other:
1. the company’s name
2. the contact’s name
No one likes to see his or her name misspelled, especially if all someone has to do is copy the name from a job posting. If you do not have the correct spelling, call the company and ask the receptionist or anyone you can talk to for the proper alphabet symbols and sequence.
Scenario: Some resumes are never opened. Poor packaging, such as cramming a resume into an envelope that is too small, folding or stapling the resume, a sloppy written address, or resumes sent in the wrong software format could disqualify you. Digital resumes in a less common file format are also rejected.
Avoid These Ten Biggest Resume Mistakes
1. Resume has been folded. Use a 9×12” envelope.
2. Address has been handwritten. Sometimes illegible writing causes delivery failure or delay or writing becomes smeared. Use a computer label or typewriter.
3. Insufficient postage.
4. Staples – Do not use staples.
5. No cover letter.
6. Misspelled or incorrect address, contact, or department.
7. Resume has been placed in some sort of binder. This will most often work against you because your resume does not fit easily into the file or pile of other resumes and becomes misplaced.
8. Odd sized paper other than 8.5 x 11”.
9. Cover letter paper is different than the resume.
10. Cover letter or resume is on personal or decorative stationary.
How to Make a Resume Feel Right
How many times after we get a job do we go back and read the resume that got us the job? I know nobody who does this. Until we need a job again, we don’t even think about our resume.
In my years behind the scenes in business brokering (buying and selling companies), my work often required assessing the employees of each company. This involved examining their personnel files, which usually included their original application, resume, and job description. I did this in order to value each employee’s position or job and the performance of that employee. Most losing resumes were kept in a file also.
During this process I could not keep myself from searching for clues that would help solve my mystery. I have to tell you, whether the resumes were paper or computer files, at first I was not getting any feelings or vibes from them. I did notice that most of the winning resumes had matched the keywords for the knowledge, skills, and abilities the employers had advertised for or were in the job descriptions.
Each resume had met the basic criteria of an attractive easy to read format and no spelling mistakes. Most of the cover letters for the winners had been simple and followed some of the laws of advertising.
Only when I had been in the company environment for a few days and compared the losing resumes to those of the employees did I start to see (or feel!) a common thread.
The winning resumes had somehow mirrored the company’s environment. Objectives, experience, and statements of skills and abilities matched the phrases of the advertised job descriptions AND the level of vocabulary and industry specific terms being used at the company. These winning resumes did feel right!
Whether by chance or not, these candidates had used vocabulary in a convincing manner to get attention and interest in their cover letters, create desire, and inspire action. The very words in these cover letters and resumes reflected the company or industry atmosphere. Even more, each resume seemed to do so in a fashion appropriate for the targeted position.
Some of these employees had come from similar companies in the same industries. This gave them an advantage. They no doubt knew the industry language.
So once the mystery was solved, I developed methods any one could use to mirror the company where they were applying.
Investigate and Collect
You should know everything you can about a company BEFORE you submit a resume.
KNOWLEDGE is POWER. The more information you have about the company and position advertised, the more job hunting ammunition you have. You can use this information for:
• Job hunting
• Resume preparation
• Resume writing
• Cover letter writing
• Phone conversations and correspondence with the company
• Salary negotiation
• Benefits negotiation
The source where you learned about the position is the first place to get information. If you saw an ad online, visit the site. If someone told you about the position, ask them for more details.
What you should know about the position:
• Where is the position advertised?
• How did you learn of the opening?
• How long has the position been open?
You should also:
• Get a copy of any advertisements about the position
• Check their competitors for similar open positions
• Check with the company to see if they have a job description for the position – if they have one do not wait more than a day or two to get this.
What you should know about the company:
• Company specifics – legal name and locations
• Industry/SIC code
• Mission statement and company philosophy
• Company’s primary products/services
• Whether the company is publicly traded or privately held
• The stock symbol and current trading price
• Six month record of stock price
• Number of employees
• Structure: S-Corp, CEO, Board of Directors, etc.
• Annual revenue (when available)
• Subsidiaries or divisions
• Name of CEO/President
• Department heads (when available)
• Employee retention rates
• Average employee education
• Recent news/PR
• Company outlook
• Work culture
• BBB rating
• Promotions policy (are internal or external candidates favored?)
• Salary information
• Benefits information
• Interview process
• Drug testing/background check requirements
• Resume requirements