#jumpSTART Your Job Search with a Polished Resume


As companies become more selective about hiring new talent, the value of a well-written resume has increased greatly. Not only do candidates need to outshine the competition through experience and skills, their resume must also stand tall above the rest. How is that possible? That’s where our #jumpSTART campaign comes in.

All throughout January, we critiqued resumes free of charge to help candidates get their job search rolling. We reviewed over 25 resumes from many different backgrounds, disciplines, and generations. Listed below are a few common issues we saw in job seekers’ resumes and a suggestion on how to combat the issue.

Grammar

Issue: Starting bullet points with present tense verbs or words other than verbs

Suggestion: Start each bullet point with past tense (-ed) verbs, i.e. “Managed”, “Executed”, “Performed”, etc.

There is some debate whether present/current positions should use present or past tense when describing duties and responsibilities. Our philosophy is that when presenting a resume to an employer, the candidate is not also, at that very moment, performing those duties they listed. Those duties were performed in the past, whether it was a minute ago, an hour ago, yesterday, last week, last month, or years ago. Therefore, we believe past tense should be used.

Issue: Ending bullet points with a period (.)

Suggestion: Remove all punctuation from the end of a bullet point, except for “etc.”

A list of bullet points is just that, a list. While candidates may be using sentence-length thoughts in their bullets, punctuation is not needed at the end because a bullet point is part of a list, not a paragraph. It is also imperative that candidates avoid having multiple “sentences” as their bullet point. If a description of a task or duty is becoming too long, either create a new bullet point or create a sub-bullet that is tabbed to the right under the previous bullet point.

Structure

Issue: Placing too much information ahead of professional experience/history, pushing it lower on the page

Suggestion: Start the resume with a very brief Career Summary section, a neatly organized skills table, then professional experience/history

With some exceptions, a candidate’s resume really boils down to their professional experience/history. The higher up on the page those details are listed, the better chance a candidate has of their resume being carefully seen and considered by a hiring manager. Studies say that the average hiring manager takes only six seconds to look over a resume. Get the most out of those six seconds by placing the most important information on the page as soon as possible. The exceptions for this style of structure are for candidates still pursuing their education or for candidates in the Engineering industry. If a candidate is still a student, it is acceptable to place their education details ahead of professional experience/history to show they are still in school. For Engineering candidates, that industry places a high emphasis on degree and school, therefore it is also acceptable to list education ahead of professional experience/history.

Overall

Issue: Not leveraging LinkedIn, the largest online professional network

Suggestion: Create a LinkedIn profile or place the URL of an existing LinkedIn profile within the contact information

Despite reports claiming Facebook is on the rise when it comes to job searching, LinkedIn is still the largest online professional network. Hiring managers and recruiters still heavily monitor LinkedIn and leverage it for their own talent acquisition. It goes without saying that a candidate’s LinkedIn profile should look exactly the same as their resume to prevent any red flags or hesitancy from hiring managers.

Issue: Inconsistent spelling or capitalization of abbreviated terms or names

Suggestion: Review the resume to ensure all spelling and capitalization is the same throughout

Depending on the candidate’s field, there may be various abbreviations and spellings of processes, skills, or concepts. Specifically, in IT, there are many software that is expressed in different ways. One candidate may say Javascript while another says JavaScript. One candidate may say Scrum while another says SCRUM. One candidate may say MySQL while another says Mysql. Whichever way the candidate prefers to spell, it should be used the same way throughout the entire resume for consistency.

#jumpSTART may have come and gone, but Blue Chip Talent will host another complimentary resume critique period in May as part of our 2nd annual #ResuMAY campaign. More details will be released in late April concerning dates and the submission process. See you then!

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