It’s somewhat alarming to think that the years you’ve spent obtaining a higher education and the countless hours of hard work and dedication that you’ve put into your career thus far is often summarized on a 1 or 2 page Microsoft Word document, better known as a resume. They say that the average recruiter spends approximately 6 seconds glancing at a resume before making a decision, but how can the recruiter really understand the full range of your capabilities without even talking to you?  In short, they can’t, but there are ways to help ensure that the recruiter spends those few extra seconds looking at yours!

1. PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, AND PROOFREAD– This one should be a given, but you’d be amazed at how many easily avoidable mistakes I see on a daily basis. You don’t want to be the person with the resume that is tossed out of the pile right off the bat because you misspelled your Alma mater, right? Take those few extra minutes to go over your text alignment, to make sure that the dates match up with your actual dates of employment, and to make sure that there aren’t spelling errors. Spellcheck is a lifesaver, but it’s not foolproof.

2. KEEP IT SIMPLE– Ditch the Comic Sans and reach for the Arial or Times New Roman! Also, save space on your resume and avoid placing unnecessary things such as a professional headshot, as that is what social media tools such as LinkedIn are for. The saying ‘less is more’ is absolutely the way to go when writing your resume.  Take that extra time to make sure that your writing is clear and concise, and that it’s something that you would want to spend more than 6 seconds on.

3. KEEP IT RELEVANT – So you’ve won the pie eating contest for 6 consecutive years in a row at the local county fair, you’re an avid jogger and really enjoy everything that gardening has to offer. While those things show a glimpse of who you are, they may hold you back from showcasing the skills recruiters are searching for.  Will they really help you land that dream Technical Lead spot within that growing IT firm? Probably not.  Focus on the professional aspect now, and overtime the personal and fun things that you love will likely come up naturally throughout the process.

4. FOCUS ON PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS AND SKILLS – This is your time to highlight the accomplishments that you’ve had throughout your career, so don’t be shy!   For example, include numbers and percentages to show that you’ve grown a team or exceeded your sales targets, and don’t be afraid to include buzzwords.  Though we hate to admit it, so many recruiters spend their time hitting ‘Control F’ in order to find the latest and greatest trends in a resume and if they find what they’re looking for, there’s a good chance they’ll read a bit more. You want to show how you’ve not only grown throughout your career, but also how you’ve positively affected your past organizations.

At the end of the week, most recruiters have looked through so many resumes and applications that it’s hard to distinguish one from the other. Taking the extra time to ensure that your resume is up to par could be the difference between getting your foot in the door at your dream company and settling for a less than satisfying position.