Categorized | Advice

Formatting A Resume

Posted on 09 July 2010

Do you know what it’s like to set up a search agent, then get back hundreds of job listings you don’t really want? Employers do, too. They get thousands of e-resumes for any one job, and somebody has to screen them all. If your resume could just get through this screening process, your chances of getting hired are dramatically increased.

To help employers find you, try to think like they do, think like a computer. Here are some tips from industry experts, recruiters, and employers on how to formatting  your e-resume more searchable.

  1. Use the top half of page 1 for the most important information. Employers search for their most important criteria first the same way they write job listings. Plus, many search engines pull hits based on the top half of page 1. So put your contact info, keywords, objective, achievements and your 10 most recent years of experience first.
  2. Use page 2 for non-critical information. List other jobs, education, affiliations, or particulars like Spanish, Veteran, Will Travel.
  3. Put a keyword list at the top. Include hard and soft skills in this order: technical knowledge, key action words (implementation, development), and relevant personal qualities (“organizational skills” or “detail-minded”). Include daily-use software (MS Project, Word, etc.) and cliche skills like teamwork and time management–provided they’re important to your job.
  4. State clear and specific objectives. Yes: “To be a DBA working with Sybase on HR, payroll or customer systems.” No: “To use my technical and communication skills in a growing high-tech firm.”
  5. Consider every critical job skill that employers might want. Consider this sample keyword list of critical skills and facts for an Oracle project manager: “Oracle. Project management for Oracle HR application. Team leader for 6-month implementation of Oracle Version 7.6. Development of Oracle Payroll application. Team builder. Organizational skills. Budget Management. Meets deadlines. $80,000 salary.” This list immediately makes 13 search combinations possible–all simple, specific, and unique: Oracle + project management, Oracle + development, Oracle + HR, Oracle + Team Leader, etc.
  6. Just saying “Oracle” doesn’t work. Direct hits are like sales leads: to be useful, they must be qualified. Be detailed, tell employers exactly what you did on your last job and how you pushed the limits with your accomplishments.
  7. Be redundant to get more hits. Having at least three mentions of each critical skill triples the odds of an employer finding and selecting your resume. Remember to be creative and leverage any acronyms: “Oracle knowledge, Development of Oracle HR system, Implementation of Oracle Version 7.6, and Team leader on Oracle payroll system project” produces four “Oracle” hits. “NT, Windows NT, and Win/NT” returns 3 “NT” hits.
Having at least three mentions of each critical skill triples the odds of an employer finding and selecting your resume.

Two More Essential Rules

Be sure you meet all of the critical job requirements. Here’s the acid test: If you can’t be 100 percent productive in 30 days, you’re probably not qualified. If the technology is new, for example, highlight related skills instead of traditional ones. The typical requirements for a job may be anything but typical.

Treat your e-resume like a newspaper ad. Passive marketing doesn’t work. Most employers still hire through traditional channels, so use a one-two punch: Send your resume and then follow up. It gets more attention and conveys more interest than a printout.

The Fine Print

There are a few computer basics to keep in mind when creating an effective e-resume. Play it safe with ASCII. HTML formatting looks great, but is not readable by every employer. Any key on your keyboard is ASCII. Other keys or symbols are not, and should therefore be avoided.

Use simple fonts: Arial, Courier, and Times Roman are the best. Set narrow margins, about 4.5 inches and flush left, to ease cutting-and-pasting of online resumes. And save your e-resume as a .txt file (the basic format for ASCII or MS-DOS files).

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- who has written 49 posts on Higher Education and Career Blog.


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Daryl says:

    Your resume is the first impression that prospective employers will have of you, so you need your resume to stand out. Anything that qualifies you or could be used in the position should be included.

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