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Resume Tips For a Paperless World
Most of the commonly held myths about resumes come from people who are still living in a paper world. The thing is, resumes are now rarely on paper. The means of dealing with paperless documents has been on the desks of managers for more than 15 years. If a manager still uses the card, he’s probably looking for a job like you. If the resume isn’t on paper, many of the commonly held myths are no longer valid, and I explain some of them below.
I understand that for many this transition away from paper can be painful, but it is a necessary step towards a better and more productive life. Paper is a habit, better break it and many of the reasons should be obvious. The card can only be in one place at a time. The card must be read. It is not possible to do an accurate keyword research on paper. The list goes on and on and it goes to the very health of the planet.
Below are a few things you should do to combat the many common myths about resumes.
Ignore the 2 page limit
There are no page limits for a resume. There may have been time constraints on the length of the curriculum. This was because the resume was on paper and had to be read by the hiring manager. If the resume is in a soft document, such as a word processing document, the hiring manager is more likely to use the word processor’s capabilities to scan the document and make a decision. That decision will be based on the keywords and descriptions surrounding the keywords in the resumes. Keywords are the key!
Don’t be short
If you imagine the hiring manager at a desk with a stack of resumes in the corner of the desk and the hiring manager having to read them all, you would conclude that shortening the hiring manager’s pain would be in your favor. But remember there isn’t a stack of resumes on his desk. There is a list of documents in a directory on his hard drive.
If you want your resume to be compatible with most word processors, use a simple format like Text (TXT, unattractive) or Rich Text (RTF, very attractive). These should be available on all systems both Windows and UNIX.
Do not have them printed on the printer
In a paper-based world, this may have been appropriate in the past, but in a computer-based world, paper is redundant. It’s not even a good transmission medium. He has weaknesses inherent in the physical world. It can only be in one place at a time, takes up space, needs to be read, word for word, etc.
A word processing document can look just as attractive, can be shared by many, and can be transmitted instantly – much faster than mail or even a fax. It takes up much less physical space. It can be scanned for keywords and rated by frequency and/or keyword density. And also it can also be read if you are interested.
Don’t use one resume, lots of cover letters
In the recruiting business the only means by which a recruiter can communicate with the hiring authority is the resume. There are typically no cover letters involved with recruiters. Cover letters may have been appropriate if you went to a printer with your resume along with several reams of fancy paper and offset printed them at a great expense. Then a cover letter would have been appropriate. It would have enhanced or provided “corroborating detail, intended to lend artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative”. (My apologies to William S. Gilbert.)
A word-processed resume is flexible, can be easily modified and adapted to the requirements of the position. No need to incur the expense of fancy paper, printing or postage. And because it’s flexible, important details for each individual job can be changed. The cover letter becomes redundant.
As a recruiter, I can say, “None of the hiring managers we deal with are going to read or accept a cover letter.”
Do not fax resumes to employers and recruiters
Faxed resumes have all the disadvantages of paper resumes and the added disadvantage that they often fade away. Faxes are labor intensive. To fit them into a modern office environment, they require rewriting or OCR and word-for-word inspection and editing.
You see, a soft document, which a fax is not, can be scanned by search engines and can be found later in an instant based on the frequency of certain search words contained within. A fax will have to be adapted to this search engine through a rather laborious process. It doesn’t make a good impression.
You understand that you (1) word-processed the resume and then (2) printed it. So (3) you faxed it, so (4) it needs to be OCRed, and (5) inspected and corrected before it can be entered into the search engine. If you’ve just submitted the text-processed file, it may go straight into the document search engine. It would be a two step process and the second step is fast. Which would make the best impression on a potential employer?
Don’t use faxes if you can get away with it. But consider that companies that still use fax are unlikely to be competitive in the years to come.
Proactive approach – The resume is a sales tool
What you are doing with a resume is trying to get someone to take action on your behalf. It doesn’t help you one bit if you put unattractive claims on your resume. It should go without saying. The hiring authority reading your resume is looking for the very predictable stuff. Those things are in the job posting. For the resume to be effective, it must contain complete contact information. Leaving contact information off the resume gives the impression that the applicant is hiding.
If you have overseas experience, you should put your current visa status prominently. If he’s not in a prominent position, he’s likely to assume the worst. Even if you are a citizen, make this clear to the reader/decision maker.
Keywords are important
Just like a university professor, the hiring authority likes to see their words, so enter the same keywords (buzzwords) from the job posting in the Experience section of the resume.
As mentioned before, the curriculum is not read. It is often scanned by a search engine and selected based on the number and selection of keywords. Once a resume is fetched from a search engine, it will be viewed by the hiring manager.
It will open each one with its own word processor. He may be reading the document at this point, but most hiring managers are busy, so the document will be searched for by keywords using the “Find” feature. When the keyword is found, the surrounding text will be read.
If it doesn’t see all the keywords it’s looking for, that resume will either be put on the back burner so to speak or rejected altogether. We have some hiring agencies that have employed staff review resumes for key skills and experience, and if they don’t see everything that is asked in the job application, the entire resume is rejected.
Skill summaries are not important
Here’s a tip: The skill summary is ignored. The skills listed in a summary do not indicate the level of experience or understanding of those skills. Every hiring manager I’ve talked to passes off the skills summary as a hype. They don’t consider it.
We emphasize this over and over again. You can put anything into a skill summary, but it doesn’t indicate the quality of the skill, and that’s important. The hiring manager is aware of this and has often told us that he considers it a hoax. Yes, you can have a skill summary, but don’t rely on it. All the hiring managers we talk to ignore them.
Write the right resume for the job
You know from the work order what the hiring manager is looking for. You know the current market is bad with many people applying for few jobs. Hiring managers write the work order in such a way as to get the most value for money and then they will load the request with as many skills and tools as possible.
However, this is good because it gives you, the candidate, the means to write your resume to meet the hiring manager’s needs. All you have to do is see that the skills and tools you need are in the Experience section of the resume.
The Work Experience section is very important
Where the hiring manager will look is the Experience section of the resume. Most of your time should be spent there. It is there that the hiring manager will be able to associate the skills, tools and activities with the company, location, start date and end date. This gives the hiring manager the best view to evaluate the candidate’s skills, tools, and assets.
So that’s where you focus those very important keywords. Make sure you draw yourself as forcefully as possible. All of your qualifying skills, tools, and activities should be thoroughly explained. Remember that there are no page limits. It’s the details that count.
Remember that you are selling yourself. This resume is the tool you use. You should never put anything negative on your resume. You should never explain why you didn’t get along with your former employer or co-workers. You should never complain about the conditions in which you worked. A mention of a negative nature will have your resume in the bin before it is read further.
There are no page limits, you do not use paper, you do not fax, you do not send a cover letter, you do not rely on the skills summary and put the keywords (skills, tools and activities) required in the job requirements in the Experience section of the resume. These are the things we have seen successful job seekers do.
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