Gone In Six Seconds

Six seconds.

According to a 2012 study by TheLadders, the average time a job recruiter looks at your resume is six seconds.

With numbers like that, a first impression is not only important, it is ESSENTIAL. A competitive job market demands an impressive representation of an individual’s abilities and achievements.

Here are some ways to catch the eye of a recruiter:


A resume should have a style, but not too much style. Use clear and appropriate-sized fonts that make it easy to read for the recruiter.

Make sure the spacing is consistent throughout the document. Use bullet points instead of long paragraphs to describe previous jobs.

Don’t change the font, unless you like the way a different font looks on the header. Style is more important for design-oriented jobs, but overall, consistency is key.

Easy to Find Contact Information

If a job recruiter likes what they see from you, they need to know how to get in touch with you. Make sure your phone number, email address and mailing address are included and legible.

Career Profile/Work Experience

Don’t just say where you worked, say what you did there.

Include current or previous titles that you held and what you accomplished when you were in those roles. Focus on achievements rather than responsibilities.


The younger you are, the more important this is.

For example: if you are in the business field and graduated from a prestigious business school, make sure that information is displayed accordingly. Education networks can be very strong.

Sharpen Your Skills

Articulating skills is an important facet in crafting the best resume. Employers want to know what you can bring to the table and a strong skills section can emphasize your best traits.

Before you sit down to compile your skills list, it is essential to understand the difference between two major skills categories: hard skills and soft skills.

First, let’s break down hard skills:

Hard skills are learned. Think of them as “book smarts”. Hard skills are essentially the prerequisites that qualify you for the job.

For example: if you are applying for an office job, listing your mastery of Microsoft Office programs is essential.

And now, soft skills:

Soft skills are not as quantifiable. They are more interpersonal and exhibit your “street smarts”. Being able to articulate that you work well under pressure and are a master of conflict resolution are examples of soft skills.

The job you are applying for dictates which type of skills are more valuable. If you are a computer programmer, it’s more important that you detail your ability to use relevant programs as opposed to how strong you can give a sales pitch. A salesperson’s ability to edit film is not relevant. Make adjustments to your skills for each individual job you apply for.

One easy way to customize your skills section for a specific job is to utilize the job description. If the job you are seeking says you need to be able to work within groups, include your willingness to work within groups. Job descriptions are likely chock-full of keywords that particular employer is looking for, so include them.

Also, do some online research and find resumes and profiles of people who hold similar jobs to the position you are applying for. Take appropriate notes and be sure to use the keywords you see sprinkled throughout various resumes.

Look at it this way: hard skills lead you to the job and soft skills allow you to keep the job. It’s essential to have some balance of both.

Understanding Applicant Tracking Systems

Resume writing leaves almost no room for error. With software specifically designed to weed out bad resumes, the pressure is on the job seeker to demand perfection of his or her self.

These software programs, known as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), are used by large corporations and small businesses alike to find the best candidates for their open positions. How do you win over the bots in order to get your resume in the hands of a human being?


Depending on the specific job opening, an ATS will quickly review a resume in search of keywords related to that position.

Here are four Dos and Don’ts with resume keywords:

Use keywords more than once.

Practice the art of keyword stuffing.

If your resume has enough keyword “hits”, then you will be ranked towards the top of the list. If your resume does not, it will likely be dismissed.

If you stuff keywords (either by using the same word too often unnecessarily or putting the same word over and over again in white font to mask the white background), it could be detected by the ATS and would adversely affect your candidacy. Use keywords organically.

Submit your resume and cover letter via ATS.

Submit your resume and cover letter multiple times.

If you applied for a job with a specific company months ago, the employer can still find your information through a quick search, as long as it is still stored in their database. The employer may even contact you for another open position that matches your abilities better.

Wait it out if you haven’t made any changes to your resume. However, if your resume underwent a major makeover over the course of time, it is worth considering another submission.

Include accomplishments.

List only your responsibilities.

An ATS could be looking for words like “increased revenue” or “successfully implemented”, so make sure you articulate your achievements in previous roles. This is your opportunity to show a potential employer that you have a track record of success.

Include a skills section.

Focus on irrelevant skills to the specific job you are applying for.

A skills section is a great outlet to get keywords on a resume. Because ATSes tend to focus more on hard skills than soft skills, go heavier on the hard skills. Soft skills are typically better showcased when you get to the in-person stage of the job search. For more on hard and soft skills, visit:

Keep the skills relevant to the job you are seeking. Don’t waste valuable space on your resume with skills that you know don’t translate to that specific position.

Knowing the basics of what keywords Applicant Tracking Systems look for will give you a better approach to updating your resume.

Resume Times Are A-Changin’

Resumes are in many ways a living document, both from a professional and individual sense. The professional world has demanded more of resumes and what characteristics it emphasizes, while the individual should consistently update their information to keep up with the times. In an always competitive job market, here are six ways resumes have changed over the years.

1. Achievement Over Responsibility

Employers want to know why you stand out. Many people have similar job titles and responsibilities, so it is hard to impress solely on presenting that information.

How you used that previous role to achieve success and being able to clearly illustrate that success are two major keys to a great resume.

If your department helped your company increase revenues by 20%, write that. If you implemented new initiatives, describe them and how they benefitted your organization. Maybe you were recognized with an industry award: include that.

Achievement shows employers you are worth hiring.

2. Cover Letter

Though a cover letter remains an important piece of the puzzle, the way they are presented has changed.

Rather than a printed document, cover letters have essentially become cover emails. When sending a resume via an attachment, use the body of the note as a platform to present your cover letter.

Note: Customize your cover letter based on the job you are applying for. Include the company’s address like you would for a mailed letter. Address the letter to a specific individual (not sir or madam). If you don’t know exactly who to send it to, do some research to find out. Include the name of the position and the company name you are applying to.

Presentation is key. Employers want to see that you took the time to research the position you are seeking and aren’t just sending a resume blindly.

3. Public Access

The days of keeping your resume on a “need to know” basis are gone. Websites like LinkedIn not only promote posting your resume on social media, they make it acceptable to best present yourself every day, even if you’re not looking for a job.

You never know whose eye you will catch, so update as frequently as possible.

4. Avoid Hobbies and Personal Information

Although you may think certain hobbies help define your character, do not include them.

Employers are also not allowed to ask personal questions such as religion and marital status, so that information is not relevant to the job-seeking process. Keep your resume professional.

5. Don’t Limit Your Resume

The “one page only” resume rule is gone. Rules vary depending on the job field, but generally a resume can be two or more pages if the content justifies it.

Also, depending on the field, a resume may not be enough.

For example, a TV news reporter should have a link or file of a reel that is available. A graphic designer should show potential employers of what they are capable of creating.

Having a portfolio to boost your profile in these situations is essential.

6. Use Keywords

The digital age means applying for jobs online is the norm. It also means employers have software designed at narrowing down applicants based on words they use in their resume.

Use relevant keywords specific to the job you are applying for.

Nine Resume NO-NOs

Before you learn how to build a professional resume, here’s an example of what NOT to do. Take this sample resume as a prime example:

1. First of all, lose the Comic Sans. If you want to be treated as a young professional, use a professional font. Lean towards fonts like Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman and Verdana.

2. As far as font size goes, don’t go above 12 (except for your header). Don’t worry if you feel like you haven’t used enough space, employers are aware that you don’t have a ton of experience.

3. Email Address – Don’t use the silly email address you created in your friend’s basement when you were 12. If you don’t have a professional-sounding email address, create one.

firstname.lastname@website.com or some variation of that always works.

4. About Me – Don’t include this. Frankly, employers don’t care what you think of yourself.

A way around this would be to create an Objective line and say something like “Third-year sports management major seeking valuable work experience with the New York Knicks”.

Give yourself the opportunity to briefly describe yourself while personalizing the objective to a specific organization. This shows the organization that you took the time to customize your resume for them.

5. Do not use pronouns in your resume. Be as concise as possible.

6. Education – This is an important one for internships, considering your limited work experience. What is NOT important, however, is where you went to high school. So get rid of that.

As far as college GPA, you can include your GPA if it is at least a 3.0 or higher. No one wants to know you are an average to a below average student.

**One other tip, if your GPA is under 3.0 but the GPA within your major is higher than that mark, include that on your resume.

Include your major and relevant honor societies, recognitions and/or distinctions that you hold at the school.

7. Work Experience – RELEVANT work experience only! Referring to your paper route employment to get a job in ticket sales is not going to win anyone over (Unless you were the paperboy who delivered “The Daily Sun” in the 80s. Google it).

8. Hobbies – Don’t tell an employer what you like. They don’t care about that either.

Use this space to tell them about the work you’re doing at school. Maybe you volunteer at a soup kitchen on Fridays, or make donation calls on Tuesday afternoons, or have a weekly spot on the student radio station. Whatever it is, put it down.

Employers want to know that you are maximizing your time as a student.

Also, include skills that you possess. Tell an employer what computer programs you are familiar with and include relevant course work.

You don’t have to go into too much detail, but show them that you are truly interested in the field by the classes you choose to take. This may even spark a conversation in an interview.

9. References – Don’t include this. The “available upon request” line is a waste of space. If a company or organization wants your references, they will ask for them.

For an internship resume sample that can catch the eye of an employer, check out “Six Keys to Internship Resumes

Six Keys To Internship Resumes

If you’ve read “Nine Resume No-Nos”, you know what NOT to put on your internship resume. And now, I present you a resume that can catch the eye of an employer:

Here is a resume with some substance (Education and Internships are most relevant for what you are applying for) and some style (use of acceptable fonts, sizes and styles to catch the eye).

  • Objective is clear and concise
  • Education highlights academic achievement and related coursework
  • Internships show experience outside of academic setting
  • Work Experience emphasizes the ability to handle tasks
  • Volunteer Work shows what you are passionate about
  • Skills that are relevant and could be utilized in a job setting
  • Now that you’ve learned the basics, build your resume!

Five Reasons To Update

Even if you are comfortable with your current job and have no intention of leaving, you should frequently update your resume. A resume is a living document because you never know when you may need it. Here are five reasons why you need to update your resume immediately:

Make Your Resume Public

Thanks to websites like LinkedIn, resumes have become one of the newest social media status symbols. Not only is it acceptable to openly post your work information to friends, colleagues and contacts, it is encouraged. If your resume is not available on social media, post it immediately.

Always Prepare for the Worst

Maybe you are comfortable with your job and don’t foresee any situation why you would be looking for new employment anytime soon.

Things change. Quickly.

Always be prepared with an updated resume and you can take some comfort during a difficult situation by knowing you were ready for something out of your control.

Always Be Able to Consider Outside Work

Perhaps someone you know is interested in involving you in a new project or business venture. Wouldn’t it be beneficial to have a resume handy in case something unexpected pops up that won’t interfere with your primary job?

Avoid a delayed response to an enticing side gig by having your information updated at all times. You don’t want to be left behind if time is a factor.

Same Company, New Opportunity

The promotion you’ve been eyeing at work is finally available, but you don’t have a resume to submit. Instead of scrambling last-minute or not putting in for the job, be ready to inquire immediately.

With an updated resume, you are showing your current employer that this opportunity is something you have been truly working towards.

Remind Yourself (And Others) of What You’ve Accomplished

Although you don’t think your job has changed much over time, it most likely has. Document it!

Maybe you use a different computer program for certain tasks: take the outdated program out! Perhaps you have some added responsibilities and/or accomplishments that a future employer should know about: add it!

Don’t allow certain skills or accomplishments fall through the cracks: make your resume as dynamic as it can possibly be.

As far as other individuals are concerned, maybe someone wants to nominate you for an industry or alumni award. Wouldn’t it be easier to submit if the best representation of you was available on the internet? I know so. You know so. Update it!