Smarter Job Hunting
"Smarter Job Hunting
Refreshing your résumé isn't enough; focus on skills and accomplishments
By Jennifer Mateyaschuk
You've decided to leave your place of employment, and it's time to update that résumé. But simply refreshing the latest version may not be enough. IT recruiters say résumés have changed drastically over the past two years, and those who don't keep up may lose out to a more résumé-savvy candidate.
"Employers are still looking at what skills and years of experience a candidate has," says Jeff Heath, president of the Landstone Group, an affiliate of Management Recruiters International Inc. But as IT skills become more important to hiring managers, IT professionals need to make a stronger effort to clearly present their skills, he says.
One key mistake candidates typically make when creating their résumés is to put their name and address in a larger font than the rest of the résumé, Heath says. "In all honesty, employers don't care about your name," he adds. "It's more important to stress your skills and accomplishments."
Being clear and concise is also important. About five years ago, Heath says, people were vague in their job descriptions. With the advent of technologies that scan documents, résumés can be overlooked if they don't match key words set by human-resources personnel when they search through hundreds of résumés.
Another potential misconception among job candidates is the idea that a résumé is a sales tool. "You only need to list skills and accomplishments to create an interest level and get you to the next step," says Heath, who recommends that candidates remove all unnecessary sentences, such as objective statements. "People include their objectives to further their careers and develop their skills, but everybody wants that. The sentence is a waste of space." However, he adds, candidates should retain their lists of interests. "I was interested in a résumé once because the applicant was a skydiver," says Heath. "I thought, `she's a risk-taker,' and that's what I was looking for."
Recruiters and hiring managers are also paying closer attention to references. Having a wide array of references will help win the confidence of a potential hiring manager. Heath recommends providing a co-worker to speak about personal experiences; a business partner, client, or customer; a former employee of the candidate's current place of employment who can stress the candidate's importance within the workplace; and a colleague from a professional association where the candidate's skills and performance may have been evaluated.
A well-written résumé can win an IT professional multiple interview opportunities. Just as references have become more closely scrutinized, so has the interview process. According to Management Recruiters International, a new interview technique is being used by many IT hiring managers. The technique, called behavioral interviewing, seeks to assess candidates based on what actions or behaviors they would exhibit under certain circumstances. In addition to gaining general knowledge about a candidate during the interview, hiring managers encourage candidates to talk about prior job experiences, detailing situations they were involved in and how they handled them.
Candidates who are prepared to participate in these new interview methods have a significant advantage over those who aren't, says Harvey Bass, president and managing director of MRI Sale Consultants, an affiliate of Management Recruiters International. Your best bet, Bass says, is to define your key strengths and skills, and describe specific experiences that exemplify those strengths and skills. Also, recall past events that can be directly related to the position you're applying for, and make sure to be as specific as possible when recounting those events. Use these tips and landing the ideal IT job might just be a little easier."
<Note from JobFairy.com: We disagree with their objection to objective statements. In a majority of the circumstances, you may not have the opportunity to send a cover letter with your resume. The objective statement provides (if well written) to the employer an indication of your career goals. This paragraph is also a good opportunity to insert keywords that may not be able to be worked in anywhere else within the document. Often, when you post to a job site, they ask you for a paragraph about the kind of work you are looking for, and having this prepared makes your job-hunting easier. Also discussed in the article is the tendency to enlarge one's name, address, etc. at the top of the resume. This is simply not an issue with the ASCII format document, since there is no bold, italic, or any other kind of formatting available. Your resume will be submitted in a fixed-width font format. Once a recruiter or potential employer is interested in you, then they will see the formatted resume. At that point, they will have enough interest in your skill set, that this too will be a moot point. Length of resume isn't a problem so long as your keywords are good.>