Six things the person looking at your resume wishes they could tell you
We’ve talked in the past about the things employers wish they could tell you in the interview and the things employers do and do not want you to know.
Now let’s talk about what goes through an employer’s mind when reading your resume. As you know, you only get a few seconds to make a first impression. And we hope you’re not using that time to make the person reading your resume bang their head on the desk out of frustration that candidates don’t make an effort to better understand the hiring process and the needs of the potential employer.
Here are six things the person reading your resume wishes they could tell you.
“I’m not going to read past the first paragraph if you don’t grab my attention.” Someone sent me a resume last week, asking for help, and I wrote him back to ask why he hadn’t listed any work experience. He did list work experience, he said in his reply – had I not read the second page? The work experience was listed at the bottom of the second page! The first was a jumbled list of unrelated skills, so I hadn’t made it to the second. Dude. Come on. They have a lot of resumes to look at. Put your most relevant information up top.
“If you don’t meet the qualifications, you are wasting your time and mine.” The employer doesn’t need 500 resumes from unqualified candidates. They need one from a qualified candidate. If you don’t meet at least 75% of the requirements, don’t apply.
“You have to make it easy for me.” Make it clean and easy to read. Also, if the employer can’t immediately see how your experience and skillset are applicable to the position, they won’t waste time trying to figure it out. I recently helped a guy who was trying to jump from teaching to another career. The problem was, his resume was all about his teaching experience. This is fine, but you have to spell out how your skills and successes in that job transfer to the job you are now seeking. Don’t expect your cover letter to do this. There’s a good chance it won’t get read. You have to make it clear in your resume. As I have said before, this is one of the only situations in which you might want to use an objective statement.
“It’s not about your needs. It’s about my needs.” Usually the “objective” statement is a terrible idea. The hiring manager doesn’t need to know what you want. They need to know what you can do for them. Replace the objective with a summary and make it pop. Make it about what you can do for the employer, not about your goals to “find a great sales job with a company where I can showcase my people skills and will have opportunities to learn and grow!” Please.
“Your functional resume isn’t fooling anyone.” Unless you’re clearly a new grad, a functional resume makes it look like you’re hiding something. Maybe it’s a lack of qualifications or experience, or a long stint of unemployment, or a prison term. Whatever the case, they know it’s something. This doesn’t bode well in most cases, so if you’re submitting a functional resume, try to make it clear why you’re doing so.
“I want to hire you.” Job hunting is daunting and frustrating for a lot of people. So, just try to remember that – barring cases in which the interview is just a formality to make HR happy and they actually already know who they want to hire (and it isn’t you) – they want to hire you. They need to hire someone who will do a great job, and don’t want to spend months looking for that person. They want you to fit the bill. All you have to do is convince them that you are the solution to their problem.