Four years ago I was laid off from a permanent position. When I was laid off the company provided me with a career coach who gave me advice and helped rewrite my resume. That was my first experience with a career coach, by no means my last. I have since paid for the assistance of a coach on a couple of different occasions.
Below is, in summary, pretty much what they all will tell you. I respond with where I believe they get things wrong and cost you wasted time looking for a job.
A. Each may give you a very different and arbitrary “proper” format for your resume
B. Each will tell you to make sure you have a LinkedIn Profile and that it is up to date and you engage in networking through LinkedIn
- Employers/Recruiters/Hiring managers will always check your LinkedIn page
C. Each will tell you to tailor your resume to the job. You can use https://www.jobscan.co/ to scan your resume and the job description for help
D. Don’t list your job descriptions in your resume, list accomplishments instead
E. They will tell you about the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and how no human will read your resume; the ATS will scan it and give it a score and that score determines if it gets read
Most of the above statements are wrong or not entirely accurate. They cost you time digging through searching for a job and they tend not to be worth the extra time.
1. There is no such thing as a proper resume format, there are only general guidelines
If anyone tells you there is a “proper” resume format, they are just making things up or were told to say that (maybe to sell their resume writing services). There are guidelines that most people follow, but they are generally more vague than a specific laid out format.
It is very possible that a corporate recruiter might believe that there is a proper resume format and throw your resume out for not following it. You really never know and you aren’t going to predict that in advance between the hundreds of corporate recruiters out there.
No matter what format you pick, someone, somewhere, will hate it and it might cost you a job. You have to deal with it. It is a completely arbitrary system when it comes to the formatting of a resume. So why waste your time working on getting it just the right format?
I don’t have time to play “guess the proper format” and I assume you don’t either. You can safely ignore suggestions that a resume has to be in a specific format.
Here is your format – You need a “Work History” section, and an “Education” section. You should name them “Work History” and “Education” (Very Important thanks to ATS Scanning). Many suggest you have some sort of summary of your career at the top. In my experiments, I haven’t tried it without one and in fact, I have had recruiters call out things in my summary because most apparently won’t read past that – so you should also have a “Summary” section.
The rest is fairly arbitrary.
Play around a bit with other sections if you want. You can add a “Certification” section or an “Accomplishment” section. “Skills” can be beneficial to help pack some keywords in and hopefully catch the eye of the recruiter looking to fill a job. Are they needed? probably not.
2. The Importance of LinkedIn is Exaggerated
Most 1st party company recruiters don’t seem to care much about LinkedIn. They have a lot of jobs to fill and they need to fill them. I have found no evidence that most even look, but you will get the occasional one that says they always look. It can be a good choice to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date, but it is not as important to company recruiters as many will have you believe.
You know how I know? LinkedIn tells me who views my profile. I would estimate that the actual number that bothers to look is less than 10%. 3rd party recruiters look a lot more than corporate recruiters. Hiring managers are more likely to look after they already hired you.
You may also be fine without a LinkedIn profile in many cases. With over 500 million people in the world on the site and half of those active users (Osman, 2019), it can be beneficial in other ways to have a profile on LinkedIn. I have known plenty of people who have gotten along fine without a LinkedIn profile despite the benefits it could provide.
As far as networking on LinkedIn goes, toss your resume out on a job search group and make a post to your page. Your contacts probably can’t help you come up with a random job and contacting them directly is rarely effective (especially if you only talk to them when you are looking for a job).
If you are lucky, you will get people to share your resume (I try to share every resume I see) and it may get passed around. I don’t know how many people actually get jobs that way, my best guess it is very low. I have never seen any statistics on LinkedIn specifically, usually, the data I see considers all networking. If Linked in was hugely a substantial player in that networking I would imagine they would advertise it more.
More likely, a recruiter will run a search on some keywords and stumble upon your page. They will contact you and tell you about a job. If networking is your method of finding a job, you are better served to get up and away from the computer and find networking events in person.
3. Tailoring Your Resume to Each Job Wastes Time
I have actively tracked this. I sent tailored resumes out and kept track of my response rate, and I have sent generic resumes out and also tracked the response rate. There is almost no difference in a tailored resume vs. a general resume.
If your average corporate job gets 250 resume submissions (Turczynski, B., 2019) and they only interview a half-dozen – your odds of getting an interview were never good to begin with. It brings the method of sending resumes out down to a pure numbers game.
Now to get accurate scientific results I obviously need more people and I need to conduct a larger study – a study that no one has actually done apparently (I haven’t found the research). The people giving you this advice are not basing it off any actual metrics that I am aware of, they just believe you need to change all your keywords to match the job description. I tend to assume recruiters can connect the dots on their own.
The only thing that exists that might indicate tailoring your resume is essential would be the ATS scanners. I will cover them a little later in this post.
If you really want to try tailoring your resume, to help with this, there exists a site that may assist with making sure your resume matches the job description. https://www.jobscan.co/ allows you to upload your resume and paste in the job description. It then makes a guess as to how well your resume will do in order to get past the ATS scanners.
4. Don’t Worry About Robust and Detailed Accomplishments
It can work, but more than likely it probably won’t benefit you at all. You may find yourself being asked, “But what were your job duties?” Employers want to know what work you did. That is the primary thing you need to worry about so they can connect what you did to what they need.
I have found that a mix of accomplishments and job description works best. I pull out my accomplishments and list them in a separate section that I place above my work history. Even then, there are people who don’t like it. You will never please 100% of the people with your resume.
This is a template of a resume that shows the accomplishment section above the work history section: ResumeTemplate
5. Not All Companies Use ATS Scanners and People Still Find Work Even When They Don’t Know of Their Existence
There exist automated systems that read resumes looking for whatever keywords the recruiter or hiring manager specifies. There are many different ones and some work better than others.
Not all employers use them or rely on them exclusively. You might benefit some from ensuring that your resume is optimized for the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) scanners (This is why you need “Work History” and “Education” as the name above those respective elements). Laying out your job descriptions in an organized and consistent way is also essential.
The ATS Scanners have limitations and each business seems to use a different one. You can optimize all day long, exact keyword matching and everything, and the ATS could be quirky. The entire point of them is to eliminate resumes someone has to look at, making the entire job search a numbers game for the most part.
I will have more in an upcoming post about how to better get past the scanners using a more generic resume; because I know that none of us have the time to create custom resumes for every job we have to apply for. In the meantime, don’t worry about them as much. The impact they actually have is more or less unknown. Without them, random resumes would probably end up in the trash anyway.
Oman, M. (2019) Mind Blowing LinkedIn Statistics and Facts. Retrieved from https://kinsta.com/blog/linkedin-statistics/
Turczynski, B. (2019) Hiring & Recruiting Statistics: Job Search, Interview, Resume Stats 2019. Retrieved from https://zety.com/blog/hr-statistics#most-popular
Images from pexels.com