Job Search, Resume
May 4, 2006 7:14 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way for my resume to be notice in a pile of canidates?

What's the best way for my resume to be notice in a pile of candidates? How do potential employers search through resumes to narrow down the search? Is it the cover letter? Is it keywords in the resume? Would a Video or CD resume help? How about having my own website with my resume and video posted. I have alot of skills and it's hard to list them all on a resume. I'm in the tech field and would like my potential employer to know that I'm tech savvy and have the certifications, skills, background and personality to do the job.
posted by johnd101 to Work & Money (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What's the best way for my resume to be notice in a pile of candidates?

Get it proofread.
posted by youarenothere at 7:17 AM on May 4, 2006

Have the resume given to the person reviewing the resumes by somebody in the company or somebody who knows the hiring authority knows.

You'll pop right up to the top of consideration.

Potential employers look through resumes with an eye towards being able to eliminate it from consideration. The degree to which that is true depends on the reviewer and also on the number of resumes they're getting, but basically, a resume's main purpose is to make sure you don't get the job.

If you want the job, submit the resume blindly only as a very last resort. Do everything you can to not have to do that.
posted by willnot at 7:19 AM on May 4, 2006

To expand on what willnot said: get a personal recommendation from someone in the company, or from someone who is known and respected by someone in the company.
posted by alms at 7:24 AM on May 4, 2006

If you're doing some sort of gfx work (which is what it sounds like), a demo reel on a website can't hurt, but NOT having it definitely does, IMO. Skip the CD- it'll just wind up in someone's drawer.
posted by mkultra at 8:13 AM on May 4, 2006

Don't you e-mail it anyway?
posted by k8t at 8:16 AM on May 4, 2006

My coworker attached another document with a diagram of a brain to his resume. In different quadrants of the brain, he put various skills he had that could benefit the company. He got the job and people still talk about it regularly. (Note: we are semiconductor design engineers -- this may not work in other, stuffier fields)

At big companies, key words are critical. Like willnot said, employers are looking for reasons to throw away resumes. If there is a big stack, the person doing the first cut is probably HR or an assistant -- not the hiring manager. Have at LEAST 3 people proofread your resume. Preferrably people in your field.

In my field, we often just put a skills list at the top of the resume and talk about key projects in the body of the resume. This helps cut down on the bulk. You don't have to list everything you've ever worked on, but most resumes of experienced people I see these days are more than 1 page (although not more than 2).

A website isn't a bad idea, but don't expect anyone to look at it until they've decided to bring you in. And if it's not absolutely perfect, then expect that to be used to cut you as well.

I do think various aspects matter in different industries. For example, I haven't written a cover letter since college. And if I got a cover letter with a resume, I'd probably scan through it quickly, but throw it away. When I talk to the person, the resume is all I care about. But I've heard cover letters are absolutely essential in other fields.

But, what everyone else said -- trying to find an in at the company is really important. However, there is a very fine line between assertive and pushy. Don't show up unannounced at the company, asking to see someone. But definitely follow up any contact with a thank you email with an affirmation of what was said during the conversation.
posted by j at 8:19 AM on May 4, 2006

I'm a manager of a technical company, so I can tell you how our office does it. I provide a list of certain skills that the applicant absolutely must have and a list of certain skills that are nice to have and a general level of experience to my HR person. She reviews the resumes that come in from various sources and eliminates anyone that doesn't meet my requirements and provides me a short list of the people that she thinks best fit my request. When she was new, I used to get her top 30 or so resumes, now I get her top 10 because I have more trust in her.

I reject any resumes that I don't like for some reason (sometimes she misreads their experience, sometimes I just get a bad vibe) and she contacts the winners to confirm that they are still available and that they generally fit in the salary range and to clarify any experience or skills that weren't clear on their resume. For instance, I may say that I will interview John Doe, but only if he knows what SOAP means. She will ask him and schedule an interview. If I don't have enough candidates, I'll have her dig deeper in the resumes or clarify some other things she should be looking for.

I've noticed that people who provide fairly dense lists of technologies that they know tend to do well in the initial screening by HR. If I say I want them to know Apache, ColdFusion and Java, with J2EE and SOAP preferred, then people with lists of technologies that include all my requests have a much better chance of getting selected.

Sometimes I find good people when I've had to dig deep in the resume pile whose resume clearly indicated the right background to me, but it wasn't clear to the HR person. A resume that doesn't list skills in a manner that makes it easy for a person with a limited technical background to find them will often not make the first cut.

I personally really hate resumes that don't make your actual experience clear to me. Describe your jobs (and the date ranges) clearly and consisely. Tell me you were a production system adminstrator responsible for a cluster of HP-UX servers, don't tell me you "managed mission-critical technical resources to ensure appropriate hardware availability for key strategic business objectives." That kind of stuff annoys me.

The main goal of the resume is to get past the screening of people who are trying to identify well-qualified candidates to interview. It will never get you the job, but it can easily cost you the job. Cute stuff like video or CDs usually annoys me, but it might be effective for some people. If you have a web site that features your experience in more detail (especially if you are a web developer), then it could be helpful to list it. If I'm on the fence about interviewing you, I'd probably check it out.

As other people said, there are ways to go around the HR person and ensure that I look at your resume personally. Recommendations from clients, employees or managers in my organization always ensure that I look at it. I still reject a lot of these, but I'll see them. Obviously, if you have any kind of direct contact, that is a better path.
posted by Lame_username at 8:27 AM on May 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you email your resume don't name the file resume. Put you name in the file name. I would say 75% of people have resume.doc or resume.pdf as their file name so in order to do anything with it it must be renamed. Don't make the job of getting hired harder.
posted by I Foody at 9:15 AM on May 4, 2006

The bones of your package should be industry standard. While that standard varies from industry to industry, you want your resume, cover letter, and whatever is customary in an applicant package to have a look and feel which exudes "I'm an experienced, savvy pro who will fit in and produce from day one." The best way to do this is to have line and managerial people in the business critique your package and get it right.

From those bones, you should customize your package to the specific company and opportunity. Ideally, you'll never use the same package twice.
posted by MattD at 9:44 AM on May 4, 2006

If you don't want to get noticed in a bad way, try the following:

Follow the instructions for applying. Make sure you send it to the right person (and do try to send it to an actual person, not "To Whom It May Concern") and make sure you include any requests the employer makes (salary requirements, portfolio, references, etc)

Spell Check. Spell Check Again. And then have 3 other people read it for mistakes.

Tailor your resume to the job. If they're looking for C++ and you know C++, list that first. Don't make the employer comb through your resume looking for the skills they want.

Definitely include a link to your website if you have one. However, if it's your personal website or blog, don't bother.

If you're emailing your resume (or putting your email on your resume), use a professional looking email address. No
posted by geeky at 9:49 AM on May 4, 2006

I have always been told that a resume is secondary to what comes with it: namely your skilll sets and some other token of your interest in the company.

so look at other things you can provide that will attract attention. even something as simple as a thank you card sent to the company saying "thank you for considering my resume. i find [x] about [the company] fascinating, and look forward to hearing from you." will do the trick, often enough. it can't hurt to give someone at the company a call to ask what they look for and try, during that conversation (so long as it doesn't seem like they have a million other things to be doing instead of chat with you) to chat with them about something related to the job that puts you in a good light.

and contacts, as mentioned above, are invaluable. barring those, just find something OUTSIDE your resume to draw their attention TO the resume.
posted by shmegegge at 10:05 AM on May 4, 2006

I have an unusually spelled name, and I will not look at resumes addressed to the "corrected" version. It makes me think the candidate is either careless or honestly thinks he knows how to spell my name better than me. It's a huge thing.

So, my advice is to not only proofread the resume, but the cover letter and all it's details in relation to the job itself.
posted by miss tea at 10:25 AM on May 4, 2006

I also agree with willnot's advice, don't send it blind if you can help it. I realise it's not always possible to get a personal recommendation or inside help, but still don't just send it.

I know someone currently looking for a job in a tech type field. They started off just sending in their CV to any relevant job listing. And while there were a few bites, there was a lot more silence (ie no reply). So my friend started phoning the person listed in the ad before applying and are now getting interviews (which is the point of the CV). It's not usually the person hiring but a recruiter or HR manager one step removed, but it's still worth contacting them. They have the power to turn you down after all. Ask for a job description or clarification about the job, or even just say you're looking to apply, list the main reasons why you fit and ask what they think. This way when you send in your resume the person screening it is already thinking about you and is ready to read it straight away. My friend has found the person he talks to generally asks them to send their CV through, which is a subtle but important change in the recruiters mindset. I've been surprised at how much of a difference it makes.

Getting interviews is, of course, only the next step. My friend still hasn't got that new job. But all the steps are important, as all of them can stop you reaching the goal.
posted by shelleycat at 5:07 PM on May 4, 2006

I'm with David Brent. When sorting through a pile of job applications, I throw half unread into the bin to make sure I don't employ unlucky people.

Or.... beyond the actual content, put a passport-sized (but good) photo of yourself on the front, and make sure the thing is well laid-out.
posted by ajp at 5:19 PM on May 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

Aside from everything else suggested, use non-standard paper (within reason). Slightly different size (e.g. A4) so it sticks out of the pile. Very slightly off-white paper. Faintly textured paper. Not all of these at the same time (overkill).

Sometimes this works, sometimes it will backfire (especially in conformist environments).
posted by randomstriker at 6:39 PM on May 4, 2006

put a passport-sized (but good) photo of yourself on the front

I know this is standard in Europe, but DO NOT do this in the U.S. Doing so will GUARANTEE that your resume will be thrown out to avoid any potential discrimination claims.
posted by mkultra at 4:36 PM on May 5, 2006

DO NOT do this in the U.S. Doing so will GUARANTEE that your resume will be thrown out to avoid any potential discrimination claims

Wow. Apologies for making a recommendation without understanding the implications.

Putting a photo on your CV isn't standard in the UK, but I've seen it on a couple of the hundreds of CVs I've read. It certainly helped me remember the candidate more easily.
posted by ajp at 6:23 AM on May 6, 2006

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