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7 Ways to Ensure Your Resume Doesn't End Up in a Recruiter's Trash

7 Ways to Ensure Your Resume Doesn't End Up in a Recruiter's Trash

Knowing when to summarize and when to be specific is the key to writing a resume that stays in a recruiter's keep pile

IT professionals are particularly susceptible to loading their CVs with alphabet soup and not articulating the business value of their work

Resumes are the stock and trade of the recruiting business. Thousands flood a typical executive search firm every month. With that kind of volume, no recruiter has time to read every single word of every resume that passes in front of him. So how can a job-seeker ensure that his resume captures the recruiter's attention? By avoiding some all-too-common mistakes such as long-winded summaries and acronym alphabet soups, and by adhering to the following best practices.

#1 It's a resume, not your molecular structure. Forgo long prose in favour of uncluttered, bulleted lists that capture the essence of your work experiences. Candidates need to get to the point quickly so that recruiters-who are notorious for their short attention spans-will put your resume in the keep pile. If you're not qualified, your resume won't make it anyway, but if you are, you want to make sure it doesn't get tossed because it was too dense to read. Don't list every gold star you got in your career. Instead, highlight a few of the significant contributions you made in each of your jobs. Clearly state what the contribution was and why it mattered. If you get your point across succinctly, you'll have much better luck getting in the door, which is the point of your resume in the first place.

If you're making a transition from academia to industry, or if you are an accomplished executive who has authored articles, keep your publication list separate from your business resume. You might wish to include a "Publications and Presentations" subhead on your resume where you can write something like, "Published over 30 articles in leading peer-reviewed publications in the chemical engineering field. Complete bibliography available on request."

#2 Focus on the business benefits your skills offer. Don't confuse features and benefits. A car's feature is its six-speed automatic, electronic transmission. The benefits of that feature are smoother shifts, improved performance and better fuel economy. A feature of your resume might be "installed new Cisco network at five worldwide sites." That doesn't tell the recruiter that the benefit was a reduction in the company's operating costs, or that it allowed global order entry, which helped increase sales by 12 percent. You may need to communicate some plain facts, such as the number of employees you supervised and the budget you were responsible for. Try to cast those facts in the context of the business objective they helped achieve or the opportunity they helped create. If you're applying for a technical position, make sure you explain why your technical expertise matters to the business. If you have experience in particularly hot areas such as offshore outsourcing, Web 2.0 or software as a service, make sure those buzzwords are prominent on your resume and state why they matter.

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