Recruiters have to sort through applications quickly to find qualified candidates. If it’s not immediately obvious that a candidate is qualified, it’s easier to press delete and look at the other 100+ resumes, then take a few minutes to read each resume and cover letter in depth.
This means that qualified candidates must clearly outline their relevant experience and make sure related experience is the first, second and third thing a recruiter sees.
Let’s take the case of Jamie. Jamie works for a small doctor’s office as an assistant. Although Jamie’s title is Office Assistant, she really does everything that the business needs. She set up the company’s website, created advertisements for the office, is in charge of recruiting, deals with vendors and so much more.
Jamie decides it’s time to find a new job in marketing. When she puts together her resume, she outlines everything she has done with her primary responsibilities (maintaining the office schedule and managing correspondence) at the top of the page. At the eighth bullet in, she mentions something about helping with marketing campaigns. She does include her experience creating advertisements, but leaves off that her well placed ads increased appointments by 12%.
So basically, we have a candidate with relevant experience who hides her experience within her resume, and doesn’t effectively outline her successes. When a recruiter receives Jamie’s resume, it will be easy to pass on, even though some relevant experience is listed.
When you are writing your resume and cover letter, think about not only whether your relevant experience is on the resume, but also whether a recruiter’s eye would be drawn to your relevant experience. If a recruiter would have to look at your resume for more than 10 seconds, you didn’t pass the resume test.
How could Jamie have done better? First, because she doesn’t have positions with a marketing title, she may want to consider adding a summary section at the top outlining her marketing experience. She could title that section “Marketing and Public Relations” to make it very obvious that she has relevant experience.
Next, she can outline her professional experience chronologically. At the top of each section she can include her relevant marketing experience. She should also highlight major projects that she worked and quantifiable successes (like increasing appointments by 12%).
Jamie should then go through some positions that she is interested in and highlight some key points in the description. If she has any experience relating to those bullets, she should make sure to highlight it.
Finally, she should think of software and tools that she is skilled in that are important to the marketing industry. She can highlight that within her resume as well.
For bonus points, she can also include a link to her own professional online profile (as a marketer, she should be able to easily market herself online).
The bottom line here is that recruiters want to find highly qualified individuals, but they also need to find them quickly and efficiently. Make sure your resumes, cover letters and applications consistently show that you are the best and most relevant candidate. If a recruiter has to think about your resume, it’s time for a revamp.