It’s easy to think that after all the work you’ve put into perfecting your resume, recruiters will at least spend the time to thoroughly reading it through from start to finish. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. Recruiters are generally very busy. Resume writing blogger and long-time recruiter Steve Wang says, “During my more busy weeks, sometimes I have to fill as many as 15 positions at once, and when each position gets over a hundred applicants, I can only afford to spend a minute or two on each resume.”
So, like anyone faced with a whole lot to do, recruiters take shortcuts. Instead of looking through every single application carefully, they’ll simply skim through each resume to see which ones might be worth taking a closer look at. Because of this, it’s crucial that even a quick glance at your resume will leave readers awestruck. With this in mind, here are some techniques you can dish out to make your resume super easy for recruiters to skim through and understand.
Use Standard Headings
I get it, you want to get fancy with your headings to stand out from the pack, but doing so can have the unintended consequence of making your resume way harder to skim. Recruiters are used to reading the same old headers over and over again. If you change “Work Experience” to “Work Background”, that can throw off a recruiter’s rhythm – even if it’s just a little. So when it comes to resume headings, stick with what is tried and true.
Digitize Your Numbers
When it’s time to decide whether to spell out numbers on your resume, you might find yourself in a dilemma where you’re unsure whether to use APA or MLA style rules to approach this common concern. While it’s great that you’re paying attention to this type of detail, it’s a lot simpler than you think. Just write your numbers as digits to make information like numerical achievements nice and easy to spot. Whether you follow APA or MLA protocol is the least of anyone’s concerns here.
List All Your Skills Separately
Some job applicants like to intertwine their skills with their job experience. If they used skills A, B, and C while working for Job X, they’ll mention those skills in the same section of the resume that describes the job. While this is certainly a fine way to format your resume, it’s still important to have a separate section that lists out all your skills in their entirety.
Use Short Bullet Points
One to two lines is an okay length for bullet points. If they get any longer though, not only will your resume become more difficult to understand, but it can also hint that you’re trying to get at too many different things at once. Instead, keep your bullet points short, sweet, and to the point.
Choose the Right Template
Some resume templates do a far better job than others at making your content aesthetically pleasing and easy to understand. Make sure that the template you use is taking full advantage of techniques like bolding, USING ALL CAPS, italics, underlining, and even colors to make information like job titles, company names, and dates more distinguishable from one another. Here’s what I mean:
Job title, Company Name, New York, NY May 2016 – Present
This would be considered hard to read. While everything is bolded and italicized to differentiate the entire line from the rest of the resume, individually the job title, company name, location, and date are hard to distinguish.
Job title, Company Name, NEW YORK, NY May 2016 – Present
Here the formatting is far superior. The job title, company name, location, and date all have their own unique style, which makes everything much easier to discern.
If you’re ever unsure about whether a particular resume template might be easier to skim than another, simply test them out by skimming them yourself.
Align Dates to the Right
Keeping all your dates to the right allows you to create a clear timeline of your resume. If a recruiter wants to check to see if you have any work gaps, all the recruiter needs to do is look over to the right and all the dates will be lined up as clear as day.
Begin Each Job Description with a Summary
In some cases, even though each individual bullet point on a resume may be easy to comprehend, sometimes they don’t paint a clear picture of the job applicant collectively when put together. This difficulty is exacerbated when bullet points describe assorted one-off achievements at a particular job. To alleviate this issue, it’s often a good idea to use your first bullet point to give a short summary describing what the core of your job is all about. This way, recruiters can better contextualize how your later bullet points fit into the bigger picture of what you do.
Getting recruiters to thoroughly read your resume is a luxury you have to earn. By making your resume more skimmable for recruiters, you’ll position yourself as a strong candidate worthy of being taken seriously.