You open your laptop to see your coding terminal staring at you. You want to complete the API integrations you have been implementing in your new project but your mind keeps wandering. “Why isn’t anyone responding back?” is running constantly on your mind. Restlessly you open a new tab in your browser and head straight to the careers page of yet another leading technology company. You attach your resume, fill in the details (that are already in the resume, by the way), and hit send, hoping to get a call back this time at least.
Just then your phone chimes and your eyes pop looking at the Gmail notification that slides across your screen. You hold your breath and cross your fingers as you open the application response from your dream company.
Thank you for your application for the position of Junior Software Engineer. We are sorry to inform you that you have not been selected for an interview for this position.
You stop reading and go back to the coding terminal with a sunken heart.
Though you send out a power-packed resume that lists all seven programming languages you know, you end up waiting for a call that never comes. Maybe, the entry-level job you are applying to is asking for 3 years of experience.
If this has ever happened to you, you are not alone. According to a study by TopResume, 75% of resumes never even reach the hiring manager and are rejected by the Application Tracking System (ATS).
“Ultimately recruiters just want to find the info they’re looking for as quickly as possible.” – Jon Shields, Marketing Manager at Jobscan.
You can have solid technical skills. However, if your resume is not ATS-friendly, then you are nowhere close to getting that much-anticipated interview call.
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all resume format. Different hiring managers look for different things in a resume. But there are some universally common things every hiring manager looks for when scanning through a resume:
- Neat formatting
- Correct grammar
- Necessary qualification and certifications
- Easy to scan
- One-page resume
As you read along, you will learn how to adopt these points in your resume and create a killer resume that will:
- Tick all the boxes to make a great first impression.
- Highlight your skills and experience that match the hiring manager’s expectations.
- Increase your odds of getting that interview call.
Creating a great first impression
Every job posting attracts hundreds of applications. It takes a great deal of time to go over all those applications. You need to keep your resume short as managers are keen to move on to the next resume in the pile. On average, they spend 6-10 seconds on every resume. This means you have less than ten seconds to impress your potential employer.
The essentials like name, contact information, skills, experience, and relevant projects must be showcased in a single page.
Notice how the name and contact information are at the top in a legible, large font. Make it as easy as possible for the manager to know you who are and clear that obstacle for them in the 1st second.
Include your profile links to GitHub, BitBucket, StackOverflow, Quora, Medium, etc. Include links to websites and app store links, if any. Avoid sharing long URLs.
Share your profile name in case the hiring manager is viewing a printed copy of your resume (and won't be able to click on the hyperlink).
Also, your resume needs to be easily scannable. Divide your resume into sections along with relevant subheadings.
The manager is interested in knowing about your experience and skills that are recent and fresh. Arranging these with the most recent on top, also known as reverse chronological order, gives a clear picture of the timeline of your work. Similarly, place the most relevant subheadings first.
Need help in arranging your information in your resume? Get in touch with us.
Never undermine formatting. Pay attention and make sure all your headings, subheadings, bullets, text, etc follow uniform styles throughout. You might be wondering why this matters. Aren’t skills and top-notch experience enough to impress a hiring manager?
“Your resume should be clean, concise, and organized. It should look appealing to the eye, leveraging modern (but not obnoxious) fonts, a good use of white space, and intuitive in terms of the flow.” – Ally Compeau, CEO of Woof Signs.
Use the same font throughout. If you really want to use two fonts, pick them from the below options and use them like so:
- Headings (preferably sans serif)
- Serif: Georgia, Cambria
- Sans Serif: Helvetica, Arial, Calibri, Roboto
- Sans Serif: Helvetica, Arial, Calibri, Roboto
- Fonts to avoid
- Comic Sans, Papyrus
Hooking them in
Once your resume passes the ATS screening and the hiring managers have deemed it worthy of their attention, you need to convince them that you are indeed the most suitable candidate for the position.
Before sharing your resume, do a little research about the company you are applying for. Understand the requirements listed in their job description and the technologies used in the company.
Identify your skills, qualifications, coursework, projects, experience, and relevant achievements that suit the position and arrange them in the decreasing order of importance.
Insert key skills they are looking for as you explain the work you have done so far. Use meaningful action verbs to describe these.
Do not take it for granted that the hiring manager knows what you are talking about. Using internal lingos from your previous work or even abbreviations can confuse your potential employer and make them lose interest in your resume.
- State the obvious in a crisp and concise manner.
- Be specific about every sentence you write to describe your work.
- Expand acronyms when using them for the first time.
- Emphasize on the work you have done and its results rather than explaining who you worked for or what the company does.
- Try to quantify your contributions in easily understandable terms.
- Refrain from using heavy and technical terms. The simpler your descriptions, the more the manager will keep reading.
Simple structure you can use to describe your work:
[did action X] using [technology Y] to [achieve goal Z]
Used [technology Y] to [achieve goal Z]
- Developed a caching system using Redis to improve the application’s performance by 20%.
- Used Wireshark to monitor and resolve issues like packet drops and security protocols.
- Use bulleted lists instead of chunky paragraphs to improve readability.
- Highlight/bold key skills that are relevant to the job. But do not overdo it.
- Ask a friend who doesn’t have any background knowledge of your work to read your descriptions. See if they can understand the descriptions in one read. If they have doubts about your work, keep simplifying your sentences till they are able to get a clear picture and can easily consume it in one go.
- Keep the sentences as concise as possible. Not more than 12-15 words per sentence.
- Avoid first person in general - I, me, myself, mine.
Showcasing your strengths
Once your resume has met the criteria of being neat, scannable, and easy to read, it is ultimately your technical skills that are going to get you that interview call.
The technologies and skills listed in your resume should be justified by your work. Before adding a language or a skill to your resume, ask yourself if it is worth calling out on your resume.
For example, adding business analytics as a skill for a back-end developer position can quite easily tell the manager that your knowledge is superficial and you have no idea what you are talking about / what you want to do.
It might be tempting to show off a list of skills you have just started learning or have basic knowledge of. But this could be misleading if you do not have a thorough understanding and can put you at a disadvantage during the interview if that is something the manager is looking for.
Along with technical skills, hiring managers are searching for some qualities that stand out as soft skills required to fit in the company.
Include relevant extra-curricular skills that showcase your communication skills, grit, determination, creativity, perseverance, empathy, resourcefulness, discipline, diligence, team spirit, etc.
No more than a single line description is required for these. Listing these areas of interest outside of work shows that you are a real person and makes you seem more interesting. It also makes for a tension-diffusion conversation during the interview.
Do not ever rate your own skills.
Checklist before you hit send
It is essential to take some time to verify all the information in your resume and make sure it is accurate before sharing it. Here’s a handy checklist for you before you send out a resume:
- The resume should fit in a single page.
- Clickable links should direct to the correct URL.
- Ensure dates and contact information are correct.
- Proofread thoroughly - spell check, grammar, ensure all sentences end with a full stop (these get missed out in bullets). Use grammarly.com.
- Share a PDF with the file name being in the format: [Name_Resume]
- Check for consistent formatting - extra spacing, aligned text, sections with uniform styles, consistent bullets, etc.
- Share information about who you are in a clear and legible manner.
- Add links to showcase your work.
- Arrange your work in reverse chronological order.
- Pay attention to formatting and use uniform styling for headings, subheadings.
- Include relevant skills and information that are best suited for the job and the company. Remove unrelated information.
- Be specific when describing your work and skills. Do not leave any room for ambiguity and confusion.
- Share examples to highlight your soft skills.
- Make sure you fit all your information in a single page with a neat and easy-to-scan format.
The objective of the resume is to land you an interview. Keeping that in mind, every piece of information on that single page must conform to that purpose. If there’s anything you feel that does not add value to your candidacy, remove it. A good resume is well thought-out, has attention to detail, and prioritizes the right information. Sure, it takes time and effort to craft the perfect resume but it surely pays well by increasing the likelihood of you landing your dream job.
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