Sunday, April 18, 2010

How to Stand Out Among Hundreds of Resumes

(Sorry I've been away so long. Work, ya know. I figured with all the upcoming graduations, now was the time to jump back into regular posting.)

Almost 200 resumes. That's how many resumes we received for a recent job posting.

Among that many resumes, imagine how easy it is to get lost in the pile. Of those 200 resumes, only half made it to my desk. I then eliminated 75% of them after only about 20-30 seconds with each.

That took us down to 25. Which we quickly whittled to 12. That means we eliminated 95% of the resumes without too much trouble (even though it took several hours to get through all of them).

How did those 12 people continue to make the cut and get the all-important phone interview? Simple. They followed these guidelines:
  • Qualified // I know this sounds obvious, but the first 50% were eliminated because they weren't even close to qualified. They were carpet-bombers. They sent out their resume to anything out there. They wasted their time – and ours. Which also means they didn't spend enough time focusing on jobs they were qualified for – and may have missed out on landing.
  • Relevant information // All the information on the resume was relevant to the job we were looking to fill. They left out their coffee shop job, their sorority "responsibilities" and the bullshit info that career services always tells you to put on your resume.
  • Concise, yet specific // Made it easy for the reviewers to find the most important information on their resume. If reviewers have to wade through a bunch of crap to get to what they want, they are likely to bail out of the resume. Remove all extraneous information. Think and rethink every word on your resume.
  • Followed directions // Simple, right? You'd be amazed at how many people didn't follow even the simplest directions. We asked each candidate to answer a few quick questions. There were a few very qualified people who failed to do what we asked. They were eliminated from consideration. It told us they didn't pay attention – which meant they weren't right for the job. Stupid way to miss out on a job.
  • Made us believe // Lastly, they made us believe they were specifically interested in the job we were looking to fill – not just any old job. Their resume was geared towards the job. Their cover letter was specific and not just a template. And they followed all the above steps.
Amazingly, standing out among 200 resumes is easier than you think. You just have to do a few simple things.

Good luck in your search.


CuriousPixel said...

Hi Kevin,

I loved your post and I have to say I agree with many of the sentiments. I am also suprised at how many "mass email" resumes I receive where the job searcher has not even attempted to mask the fact that they are sending out the email to multiple companies. Showing a genuine interest in a specific company goes a long way when asking to becoming a member of that company!

Lisa Correu said...

Great post, Kevin. I used to get so frustrated having to wade through so many resumes to find the qualified few. Writing a resume can be intimidating but it's quite easy to differentiate yourself by following the points you lay out.