Q. I wanted to ask a quick question. I came across an article that was posted via LinkedIn, which contradicted some of the things you recently taught us at a webinar I attended. The author of the article said to keep the font size no smaller than 11 pt and also mentioned that a results oriented résumé with lots of action verbs is useless.
R.T., Phoenix, AZ
A. Thank you for your excellent question R.T. and for sharing the article with me. The first thing I noticed about the article is that it is not written by a professional resume writer. Getting an opinion from someone with a career background, who is also certified, and understands the current trends in writing and career planning is advisable in my opinion.
The article mentioned that the reason candidates were not getting a good response from applying online was that they focused on a results oriented résumé when they should be inserting keyword nouns into the text for scanning by applicant tracking systems!
Let me start by saying that applying for online ads is only 15% of the game when it comes to job search. At Careers Done Write, we teach our clients this and help them to conduct a thorough job search without relying solely on job postings.
Below are a few other comments I would like to share regarding best practices when it comes to meeting the needs of applicant tracking systems while taking into account that eventually a human being will read your résumé.
- I got a kick out of the comment about 11 pt. font size. While there is some controversy about font choices and I will be writing an article about this topic within the next week or so, using 11 pt. font or higher is not actually a great idea. In my professional opinion larger fonts look childish.
- If you have to go to a third page because you used a Texas-sized font, it may make sense to stick with 10 pt. font. It has a more polished look.
- While adding nouns to your résumé for the applicant tracking system may very well be a good idea, using results oriented action verbs is a must! Examples and corresponding results demonstrate your ability to take action and drive change! Nouns, while important, cannot demonstrate your value in a professional setting.
- A résumé without compelling achievements doesn’t let hiring managers know about past accomplishments; this is a terrible waste of trees! My mouth dropped open when the author suggested that industry awards should be left off of a good résumé. That is a differentiator. Not everyone is chosen for awards. Why would you leave it off? The idea is to set yourself apart, not blend in with the sea of other candidates.
At the end of the day, creating an outstanding résumé, requires you to provide detailed information about the value you bring to a firm. To do this, it is essential that it be results oriented.
Sure, if you fill it with keywords that the applicant tracking system likes, this is good; but don’t leave out the meat of the résumé. It is critical to include the specifics surrounding your prior contributions as an employee. Without this information, you are unlikely to hear the phone ring no matter how much the applicant tracking scanner likes your résumé.
In conjunction with Job Search Digest, we will be conducting a webinar on February 8, 2011, Financial Résumé Writing – Extreme Résumé Makeovers. It is open to all executive level candidates regardless of industry, but space is limited.
For further info or to enroll go to EXTREME RESUME MAKEOVER
Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is President of Careers Done Write, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career roadmaps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries.