TAO Self-help

Title:Resumes Part 2: Strong Profiles And How To Format To Fit Recruiters' Scanning Habits

Author:Rachael McDermott (reprinted with permission)

Date:January 2014


(Last month, Rachael McDermott wrote about ways to view your resume from the employers' viewpoint to review that article, click here.)

A reader's eye tends to read down the left side of the page and recruiters tend to look at a few key areas in their brief 6-second scan of a resume — titles, companies, education, dates you worked somewhere, first few bullets and first few words of bullet statements.

Based on this:

  • Put most important words in the beginning of your bullets.
  • In achievement bullets, list the result first.
  • In a "duty" bullet, list an action verb from the job description.
  • For example, if a job involves managing projects or analyzing data, start your bullet with "Managed project to..." or "Analyzed data for...".

Professional Profiles

Most people focus on the top third of the resume so a strong profile creates a good first impression and enables you to put the most important details front and center.

  • Focus here on key areas of expertise and give high level glimpses of achievements.
  • Study the job description and match your expertise and skills to the job requirements and keywords.

Don't make your profile generic. Please don't state you are a dynamic multi-tasker with strong communication skills who excels at leading teams. You probably are all of these things. But this is so boring. And of course we'll all say we have "strong communication skills." I mean really, what would you say? That you are a misanthropic asshat who doesn't like people and can't handle multiple duties without freaking out?

For my own profile, I might say something like "Effective employer outreach and relations strategist, noted for increasing numbers of employers recruiting on campus by 40% over previous years." While I'm sure I'm not as exciting as I think I am, this might make an employer want to know HOW I did this.

Job Descriptions and Bullets

  • If you've had a civilian job, include a brief 1-2 sentence description of the company after your job title and company name and before your bullets. The company size can be meaningful and this can show what industries you've worked in.
  • You want achievements to stand out so consider separating your achievement bullets from your keyword-rich duties bullets.
  • You could list your duties and then include a subheading "Selected Achievements" where you bullet out some key achievements.
  • Or you could include a non-bulleted 2-3 sentence paragraph of your job duties under your company name and title followed by a bulleted list of achievements.

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