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The Goal of the Resume

It’s 4:00pm. You’re sitting at your desk preparing to wrap up your day, and you get that infamous call from a recruiter… This time the timing is perfect, as you are passively starting to consider other positions. After the initial conversation, the recruiter asks you to send over your resume. You two connect the next day at an appointed time. This call is different than others that you’ve had previously, as this recruiter takes the time to ask details about your resume and learn what you were doing in each role. You are slightly confused by this because you believe that your resume is self-explanatory. The recruiter informs you that they are asking these questions to help perfect your resume for this position, and you always have to keep in mind the goal of the resume.

As a Senior Recruiter with almost 10 years of Clinical Research experience, this is a viewpoint that I often point out to candidates. Once an applicant has an understanding that the goal of the resume is to get you the interview, the perspective changes. Having screened thousands of candidates  and worked with a variety of clients, my eyes have become trained to search for and pull out the most important things that hiring managers will look for. I share with every candidate that hiring managers are looking at tons of resumes daily, which means that yours needs to stand out from the pile.  Below I’ve given 5 basic tips that will assist you in getting a step closer to landing the position of your dreams.  

6 Tips to a Winning Resume: 

  1. Dates with Months: This is important, as hiring managers want to know how long you were in each role to quantify your experience. Using years only can be too vague for the hiring manager to accurately understand the experience that you have. For example, 1999-2000 could mean 1 year, or it could mean 1-11 months… Instead, formatting dates as January 1999-January 2000 gives clear insight of how long you were in that role or with that particular company. 
  2. Detailed job descriptions: Describe what you have done in detail. I tend to lean toward the bullet format for a resume because it is easier to read; however, you can choose the format that best suites you. Make sure your job description speaks to the hiring manager. When they read your resume, they should know what you are doing day-to-day and should not be left wondering what your job description means.  
  3. Chronological Order: Put your most recent position at the top of your resume, and your oldest position at the bottom. Keep your resume up to date and within the last 10 years of your working experiences. The older positions on your resume should have less bullets than your most recent positions. 
  4. Use Metrics: Be sure to include as many numbers as you can when writing about your work history. Although it may seem like an irrelevant detail to include, this helps to further paint the picture of what your skills and experience are. Additionally, it gives some credibility to your claims and can help to direct the conversation in an interview.
  5. Correct Tense: Check to make sure your current position is in present tense, and the previous positions that you held are all in past tense. 
  6. Consistent Formatting: Your format should be the same for titles, name of companies, and dates with all positions held. If your first position is in a bullet format, keep this format for all your positions. Also, confirm that your font is the same size and style throughout the entire document. There is no need to bold parts of your resume to make things stand out. Your recruiter will typically have highlights that they put together to send over to the client that are most important to them. This process saves you from changing your resume for each position you apply for. 

Now that the resume has done its job, it is up to you to go and close the deal by having an amazing interview!!