• [white paper] Skills gap? A deeper look at your job ads can help identify more qualified candidates

    July 26, 2018 by

     

    Our latest white paper is specifically for recruiting and talent acquisition leaders who are struggling to attract enough qualified candidates. We teamed up with LiveCareer and combed through their recent 2018 Skills Gap Report. Our hope is that the tips here help you revise your job ads with a fresh lens, and ultimately help you land more of the right candidates faster. Continue Reading

  • Why employers should focus on improving the candidate experience

    June 01, 2017 by

    Candidate experience, according to Jibe, is defined as “how job seekers perceive and react to employers’ sourcing, recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding processes.”

    Why candidate experience matters

    Improving the candidate experience should be at the top of every Talent Acquisition Director’s recruitment and retention strategy. It’s that important. Want more proof? Check out these statistics from Lever, which provides software that streamlines the hiring process and simplifies the Applicant Tracking System:

    1. 83% of talent say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked, while 87% of talent say a positive interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted.
    2. 60% of job seekers have quit an application in the middle due to its length or complexity.
    3. 72% of hiring managers say they provide clear job descriptions, while only 36% of candidates say the same.
    4. 80% of job seekers say they would be discouraged to consider other relevant job openings at a company that failed to notify them of their application status. Yet, they would be 3.5 times more likely to re-apply to a company if they were notified.
    5. Talent is 4 times more likely to consider your company for a future opportunity when you offer them constructive feedback.

    Employers looking to reduce attrition, hire high volume in cost-effective ways, and develop low-cost tactics to recruit diverse talent, need to pay close attention to improving the candidate experience.

    “Candidate experience is everything,” says Sanjoe Jose, CEO at Talview, a digital interviewing, talent engagement, and hiring analytics software company. “The most important aspect of improving the candidate experience is recognizing that you’re not just dealing with candidates, you’re dealing with people. They want respect. Respect their time and efforts. Don’t make them take a day’s leave and travel for a first round interview, use tools. They want clarity on timelines and the process. Respond to their queries in near real-time, by using technology like chatbots.”

    Candidate experience touch points

    These scenarios all influence the candidate experience:

    • The experience a candidate has reading a job description and instructions given on the job description.
    • The simplicity – or difficulty – of using an applicant tracking system to apply for that job.
    • The introductory email or auto respond email that is generated after the application is submitted.
    • Follow-up communication, such as being called for a phone interview, or in-person interview. Or, a follow-up email notifying the candidate they weren’t selected to advance in the process.
    • The interview – how the candidate is greeted and treated in the interview.
    • Post-interview follow-up – is the candidate kept informed of timeline/when a decision will be made?
    • Presentation of an offer.

    The candidate experience helps build an employer brand,” says Jose. “Even if people don’t want to work for you, a good candidate experience can lead to them becoming ‘brand ambassadors’ passing on the good news about your company to others that might be interested.”

    And people are certainly going to share their candidate experiences online via social channels.

    “Social media means that people talk more now than ever before,” says Jose. “It means that word of mouth is now global, rather than local.”

    Improving the candidate experience

    There are three main components to a candidate experience, says Jose, and understanding the role each component plays can help employers and talent acquisition specialists present a strong candidate experience:

    1. People: Including recruiters, hiring managers, and even the receptionist who is the first person the candidate meets if he/she comes into your office.
    2. Systems: All the tools candidates use during the process impact the candidate experience, including: The applicant tracking system used to apply for the job, tools used for video interviews, assessments and/or onboarding tools, are all a part of the many systems employers use that relate to the candidate experience.
    3. Process: The efficiency of the process, turnaround times, automated messaging, followup are all part of the candidate process.

    Improving all of those is essential to improving the candidate experience.

    Jose recently heard from the CEO of a large technology company who said one frustrated candidate wrote to the CEO expressing disappointment in the lack of follow-up after an interview. This is a prime example of a poor candidate experience. If it happens to one person, it’s likely happening to others.

    That has both long and short-term effects.

    “In the short-term, candidates will drop from the funnel,” says Jose. “In the long-term, a poor candidate experience leads to a poor ability to attract good candidates.”

    And then the cycle continues, recruiting costs go up, attrition rises, positions go unfilled, and the company suffers.

    “Every single candidate touch point—the online application experience, each interaction with the scheduler, the preparedness of the interviewers, the turnaround time in communicating with candidates, the way an offer is delivered—reflects on the employer,” said Elaine Orler, CEO and founder of talent acquisition consultancy Talent Function, in an SHRM article. “If you’re missing the mark, the world soon knows about it…and highly skilled people juggling competing offers will certainly factor their experience as a candidate into their final decision, so it impacts offer acceptance rates.”

    That’s why improving the candidate experience should be the goal of every employer, and every talent acquisition specialist.

    Want more advice and tips on how to improve the candidate experience? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

  • How to use your applicant tracking system for college recruiting success

    March 30, 2017 by

     

    It’s no secret the advancement of technology has changed the recruiting game. The use of applicant tracking systems (ATS) – software applications that enable the electronic handling of a company’s recruitment needs – are responsible for the technological recruiting revolution. As outlined by ICIMS, a provider of cloud-based hiring solutions, ATS recruitment “allow organizations to collect and store candidate and job related data and track and monitor the process of candidates through all stages of the hiring process.”

    ATS recruitment is designed to enhance the overall recruiting experience for both recruiters and candidates. But forward-thinking employers recruiting recent college grads focus on the job seeker’s needs – the candidate experience – first.

    “It’s important to make it as easy as possible for candidates to apply,” said Tim Mayer, Director of Talent Acquisition for Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, which uses BirdDogHR Talent Management Suite. “If your application is a time intensive process, people will drop out during the process or might not even try at all.”

    There is some rationale for using the ATS to collect as much info as reasonably possible, including screening and ranking questions, but none of that matters if the candidate doesn’t hit “submit” adds Mayer.

    “Interaction with the ATS could be the applicant’s first step in the candidate experience and can set the tone for a great, or poor candidate experience,” says Mayer.

    What’s unique about applicant tracking systems is how they allow recruiters and hiring managers to customize their ATS for specific jobs, roles and even events. For example, a recruiter or hiring manager working a college recruiting fair or campus job fair could fully customize their ATS with functionality solely for that specific campus career fair, or hiring event.

    SmartRecruiters is one example that allows recruitment marketing and collaborative hiring in the cloud. Bjorn Eriksson, Chief Marketing Officer of SmartRecruiters, offers some unique examples of how employers can customize an ATS for an event such as a college recruiting fair or campus job fair:

    • Prepare: Know which positions you are actively trying to fill. Be sure the representatives working the booth are familiar with the open positions and hard-to-fill niche career opportunities so they can speak to them when engaging with students. With some ATS’s, like SmartRecruiters, you can publish event specific job ads tailored for college job fairs.
    • Qualify: Prepare questions or a brief interview to pre-qualify applicants. Prepare questions to ask those who express an interest in your company to pre-qualify them. “It’s also a great opportunity to focus on providing meaningful information to students,” says Eriksson. “Don’t just recruit them, but ask their opinions, offer relevant advice and see if they are really a good match.” Make sure to capture students’ contact information so that you can continue the dialogue.
    • Connect: Respond to inquiries and follow up ASAP after the event. While the impression is still fresh, group your candidates into: Best matches, possible matches, and no matches. View each candidate as a potential customer or future client, and tailor your follow up message to each group.

    Ultimately though, the success – or failure – an individual or employer has with the ATS isn’t solely technology-based, says Saïd Radhouani, Ph.D., co-founder of Nextal, a collaborative applicant tracking system.

    “I believe that the ultimate success depends on how the ATS is used, and not on how it’s set up,” said Radhouani. “Yes the implementation and functionality has an impact, but even if the setup is good, it doesn’t mean that recruiters won’t make mistakes.”

    When a recruiter starts using a new ATS, they often won’t understand all the features and functionality, says Radhouani. As time goes on, they sometimes fail to learn new functionalities, and don’t maximize the systems capabilities. So recruiters within the same organization who use the same system should meet monthly to collaborate and share experiences, functionalities, and tips on how to best optimize their applicant tracking system.

    “Recruiters should also attend webinars put on by the ATS vendor,” said Radhouani. “If recruiters know other colleagues from different companies who are using the same ATS, reach out to them to see how they are using it to ensure they are getting the most out of their ATS.”

    And if the ATS vendor has a community forum, be active in the forum, ask questions and provide feedback.

    Recruiters should be sure to measure success – and failure – in their recruiting by using the analytics/metrics capabilities of their ATS.

    “Most modern applicant tracking systems have analytics capabilities that provide very insightful metrics about the entire recruiting process,” says Radhouani. “If a recruiter doesn’t measure what they do, they’ll never know whether they’re improving their productivity or not.”

    Over time, recruiters and hiring managers get frustrated if an ATS is not user-friendly, doesn’t have specific functionality and capabilities, and does not help enhance the recruiting process. Applicant Tracking Systems are not all equal, and as hiring managers move from company to company, and use different systems, they can find pluses and minuses of each system they use. The key however, is to take advantage of the functionality of the system that is in place, find what works, and align your recruiting needs with the capabilities of the system.

    “If you don’t have what you love, love what you have,” said Radhouani. “Every ATS has its good and bad sides. Recruiters should focus on the good side and work with the ATS, not against it.”

    Mayer agrees.

    “Really embrace the entire suite of options your ATS provides,” says Mayer. “Automate where appropriate and make sure the ATS provides a candidate experience that aligns line with your employment brand.”

    Want to learn more about latest recruiting trends? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connecting with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

  • Latest rules for resume writing from career consultant Joanne Meehl [video]

    March 24, 2017 by

     

    Joanne Meehl knows the rules resume writing and has excellent advice. She is president and primary Job Coach & Career Consultant at Joanne Meehl Career Services.  Today Joanne shared her insight with College Recruiter, and you can scroll down to watch a video of our discussion. This is Part 1 of 2 of Joanne’s resume writing tips. A week from now Joanne will join us again to share more about applicant tracking systems and common mistakes that college students make when writing a resume. Continue Reading

  • Assumptions that hurt hiring practices

    February 24, 2017 by

     

    Hiring assumptions are everywhere. They often reduce the effectiveness of the hiring process. Admittedly, it’s impossible to remove all potential subjectivity and bias from a hiring process. Even as we’ve introduced more technology into recruiting (for example, Applicant Tracking Systems), a human being–a flawed human being–makes the final decision after some person-to-person meetings. A candidate’s dress, speech, overall manner, specific responses to questions, and more can potentially trigger biases and assumptions in even the most level-headed hiring manager. Confirmation bias is hugely powerful psychologically, and we can’t ignore that.

    However, let’s call out some of the biggest hiring assumptions. Perhaps increased awareness can help us to be more vigilant, and minimize the impact of our biases on recruiting and hiring. Some of the most common hiring assumptions include:

    Assumption #1: “The perfect candidate is always out there somewhere!” This is an ideal, but often not the reality. To find the best candidate for a given job, a hiring manager/HR professional needs to understand three different concepts: (1) the work itself, (2) the current composition of the job market for that type of role, and (3) what other jobs in that geography (or remote) are offering. Internally at companies, HR and hiring managers tend to understand (1), but less so (2) and (3). If you need an “agile scrum manager,” and your local market just hired dozens of that role, then when you go to hire, it’s a depleted market. The perfect candidate may not be out there, and it may be better to delay the posting instead of hiring someone short of your needs because of this hiring assumption.

    Assumption #2: Complicated hiring processes weed out less passionate candidates: Many times, companies will create intense early-stage (top of funnel) hiring processes. For example, their candidates must take written tests, complete projects, etc. The theory is logical: having these as mandatory will weed out less-passionate “passive” candidates. Unfortunately, though, this is also a hiring assumption that can backfires. Intensive, jump-through-hoops hiring demands can end up just being barriers, and weed out highly-qualified people, who may simply choose not to apply. Additionally: if your hiring process is very demanding, that might be fine. But please make sure it correlates with competitive compensation at the end. No one wants to prove a skill set 17 times over to then be offered an under-market salary. Continue Reading

  • Tweak your application process to be more respectful

    December 14, 2016 by

     

    The same tools that save recruiters time often make the application process feel robotic and cold, at least from the job seeker’s point of view. As you work to woo people into your company, it would be a bad idea to turn them off. You can use time-saving technology and still be respectful and applicant-centric.

    Your employer brand will suffer if you don’t take steps to be respectful.

    Any negativity that a candidate experiences can go viral. Your employer brand doesn’t just depend on the culture you create for current employees. The experience you create for potential employees, including everyone who never gets an interview, is also part of your company brand. Recruiters may groan at having to sift through 500 resumes for a single position, but that’s a gold mine for branding. That resume stack represents a captive audience. Unlike your passive followers on social media who you wish would just click “like” occasionally, those job applicants are eagerly waiting to hear from you.

    Recruitment skills are like sales skills, so recruiters: sell your brand and your company’s experience. Don’t overlook how important your own customer service skills are. Your candidates are your customers.

    Don’t risk losing the top candidates

    When you treat candidates like a herd of cattle, think about who you are losing. Employers large and small consistently place soft skills at the top of their wish list. Those skills include integrity, dependability, communication, and ability to work with others. A candidate with high integrity will drop out of the race quickly if they sense that a recruiter doesn’t regard them as worth more than a few seconds of their time. If you lose integrity from your pool, what do you have left?

    Juli Smith, President of The Smith Consulting Group, agrees that the lack of respect for candidates has consequences. “It can be very devastating to hear nothing.  Even bad news can be taken better than radio silence for days or weeks.” Candidates may have gotten used to being treated insignificantly during the job search, but that doesn’t mean they’ll put up with it for much longer. As companies start to figure out how to treat them better, you don’t want to be the last company standing with a humorless, disrespectful and overly-automated job application process.

    A few little tweaks can make a difference

    Like other great salespeople, good recruiters know how to read people. Let your recruiters bring their own humanness to the process. Don’t stifle their instincts to be respectful by automating every step of the way. If they truly have no time to insert a human touch along the way, then ask the most jovial member of your team to come up with better automated responses to candidates. Compare these two auto-emails:  Continue Reading

  • Calling all frustrated job seekers: make your voice heard

    November 23, 2016 by

    Frustrated job seekerIsn’t it great that today we can find employers from across the world online? Our parents would have had to scour the newspapers and ask everyone they knew and still found only a fraction of the opportunities available. If you are like many job seekers, however, all this information doesn’t make the the job application process any less frustrating.

    One company is dedicated to hearing your complaints and calling for change. Potentialpark conducts an annual global survey that aims to make it easier for job seekers to interact with companies, find career information and apply to the right jobs. Their survey recently opened in the U.S., and you can participate here. (Bonus for participating: you can win prizes!)

    Potentialpark goes through thousands of career websites, job ads, online applications, and social media channels. They check what they find against the survey results. Finally, they make a powerful case to employers to make things clearer and more accessible for their applicants.  Continue Reading

  • Why don’t employers get back to me when they hire someone else?

    August 18, 2016 by
    Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

    Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

    I wish that I had $1 for every conversation I’ve had with recruiters and other talent acquisition leaders at small, medium, and large employers about why they don’t promptly acknowledge the receipt of every application — even via automated email — and why they don’t inform all applicants that they’ve hired another candidate.

    Most of the employers state that with the added attention being given to creating a positive candidate experience that they personally get back to candidates if they’ve interviewed those candidates and use automated systems to acknowledge the receipt of resumes.

    But when you talk with candidates, you hear a very different story. Most candidates will tell you that most employers never get back to them, even when the candidate has spent hours going through round after round of interviews and sometimes even traveled at their own expense to be interviewed at the organization’s headquarters.

    There is no doubt that some organizations have a process in-place to ensure that every candidate receives an answer, good or bad. But those organizations are the exception so one candidate may be treated quite differently from another even when they’re equally well qualified and apply to the same job with the same employer.

    Why do some recruiters fail to provide bad news to candidates? There are a number of reasons. Most who admit to not getting back to candidates will claim they don’t have time, but it seems to me that we should all have enough time to send a copy-and-paste email especially to candidates who have been interviewed. It’s just basic, minimal, courteous behavior.

  • 4 winning resume tips for recent graduates

    August 01, 2016 by
    Businessman passing document to businesswoman photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    You don’t like getting spam, do you? Well, neither do hiring managers. It may be quick and efficient to upload your resume on popular job sites and send employers the same robo-resume, but hiring managers view these generic, mass mailings as spam. They can spot one-size-fits-all resumes in a nano-second and quickly discard them.

    Here are four tips from hiring managers featured in the book, Graduate to a Great Career, on how to create a winning resume:

    1. Add a short profile statement and your key selling points at the top “above the fold”

    Realize your resume is an ad for branding yourself. Like a newspaper, an ad, or web page, the most important “real estate” is in the top half of your resume. Branding resumes begin with a profile or qualifications statement, a couple of crisp sentences that define your value. A strong profile statement is critical for recent graduates. You don’t have an impressive job title and career history yet, so you’ll need to specify your career focus and value proposition in your profile statement. In fact, many hiring managers told me a big problem with new graduate resumes is it can be hard to determine what entry-level job the new grad is looking for, especially if the grad doesn’t have a career-specific major like accounting or computer science. A profile headline like “Seeking an entry-level positioning” is too generic and doesn’t convey your career path. Remember, it’s your job to convey your career identity, not the hiring manager’s. For example, a recent grad named Erin who was a psychology major pursuing a career in marketing began her profile with the headline, “Aspiring marketing assistant: Psychology grad with pulse on the consumer mindset,” followed by a few bullets outlining her focus, strengths, and marketing credentials through two internships.

    2. Expand your skill set to take advantage of new market opportunities

    Be willing to take advantage of where the momentum is in the marketplace. During her job search for marketing jobs, Erin, our aspiring marketer mentioned above, noticed big retailers were advertising entry-level jobs and internships in merchandising, an area related to marketing that involves selecting products and evaluating sales performance. She decided to expand her job search and pursue both career paths: merchandising and marketing. Because there were a lot of merchandising internships online, she snagged a three-month, part-time internship at a large global retailer. But Erin needed a different elevator pitch and resume to apply for full-time merchandising jobs, and now with her internship, she had a story to tell. She had a hands-on role in compiling trend and competitive analysis reports, which gave her specific marketable skills. Here is Erin’s new profile statement for her merchandising resume, “Merchandising assistant with strong analytic, merchandising, and marketing skills.” She included new skills such as “completed Excel reports for accurate demand forecasting that resulted in a 10% improvement in accurate buying.” Before long, Erin was offered a merchandising job at a top global retailer.

    3. Play to keywords and how the resume robots screen resumes.

    The first “person” your resume has to impress is not likely to be a human being but a computer. Due to the volume of resumes that large and medium-sized companies receive, most companies use ATS (applicant tracking systems). Most ATS’s are not kind to new grads since they are programmed to check for a strong keyword match. Since most recent grads have limited experience, they don’t score high on an ATS (Only 25% of resumes make it past the resume robots). If you do have a strong skills match with a job posting, take the time to use the same exact words in your resume so the resume robots pick them out. Your resume can also be discarded if you format it incorrectly. Keep the layout simple with commonly used section titles like profile, work experience, education, etc.

    4. Emphasize skills, experience, and results in the “Action + Numbers = Results” format.

    Employers now give twice as much importance to specific skills and work experience as academic courses and grades. How do you make your abilities and skills stand out when you’re a new grad with limited work experience? It might take more effort than for an experienced job seeker, but you have more experience and accomplishments than you realize. Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished in internships, school projects, volunteer activities, part-time jobs, and the like. Then, follow this formula to create a powerful results bullet:

    Action + Numbers = Results

    Did [A] + as measured by [N] = with these results [R]

    Here are a few examples of how college students and recent grads have created marketable results bullets out of internships and part-time jobs:

    • Raised $55,000 in first month calling alumni for university capital
    campaign; the top student performer all four weeks.

    • As a brand ambassador interning at X Company, challenged to increase
    website traffic, wrote ten blog posts that generated over 240 responses,
    and helped boost sales.

    • Prepared detailed Excel reports and pitches for business development
    group at fast-growing technology company that
    increased response rate by 15%.

    The key to a successful resume and job search is to go for quality over quantity. You need to invest a little more time to create a resume that is right for each job, but it will pay off. Your efforts will be rewarded, and you’ll be on your way to an interview in no time.

    Catherine Kaputa, guest writer

    Catherine Kaputa, guest writer

    Catherine Kaputa is a Personal Brand Strategist, Speaker, and Author of the newly-released book, Graduate to a Great Career: How Smart Students, New Graduates, and Young Professionals Can Launch Brand You. (April 2016. graduatetoagreatcareer.com). She is the author of two best-selling books, You Are a Brand and Breakthrough Branding for entrepreneurs. She is the Founder of SelfBrand (selfbrand.com). Speaking clients include Google, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Intel, Citi, Merck, Northwestern University, New York University, and University of Illinois.

  • 20 ways to rock your resume

    April 29, 2016 by
    Resume with pen on table closeup courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Casper1774 Studio/Shutterstock.com

    Another week without attention paid to your resume. You are applying for jobs that match your education and skills; you have a nicely formatted document; and you have outlined your work experience very well with bolded headings and bullet points like you were told to do. You’re qualified but just can’t manage to get that call for an interview. Could there be that many people more qualified than you? Maybe not. There may be some flaws in your resume you have not realized.

    Here are 20 tips that can improve your resume.

    Make sure you are emphasizing results, not responsibilities

    It’s a common error; job seekers are trying very hard to list all of their responsibilities for each position. Their thinking, of course, is the more responsibilities, the more qualified they will be. What is more important to employers is the results, what job seekers have actually accomplished.

    Take a look at the responsibilities you have listed for each position. Can you list any quantifiable results? Did your re-organization save the department $50,000 a year? Sometimes, you may think results will be hard to provide. For example, perhaps you took over a department that had no baseline data to work with to show improvement. And maybe the improvement was qualitative rather than quantitative. Take employee morale, for instance. You know you improved it when you took over that department. But how was the improvement measured? Maybe there was much lower turnover or maybe the rate of absenteeism dropped significantly. These are important figures to have. Never leave a position without gathering figures that support your results.

    A lot of space was spent on this item. Why? Because it is the one thing employers say is usually missing from a resume.

    Target skills/background for each position

    This is the primary reason why you need to tweak each resume for every job opening. If you have background in training, administration, HR, and sales/sales management, and are applying for jobs that focus on one of those, then focus your resume in that direction. Spend far more space on that focus area than on others. Generic resumes don’t really work anymore.

    Re-visit keywords for each position

    Change out your keywords based upon two things: the job description and the company’s website. Sometimes, reading through the company’s home page and the “about us” page will give you more keywords to include. And keywords that relate to the position should be placed as close to the top of the resume as possible and included in your cover letter.

    Include a summary section

    A statement of your career goals at the beginning of your resume is not advisable. Companies don’t care about your goals; they care about what you “bring to the table.” Switch that out for a short summary of your skills and experience that relate to the position, with four to five sentences only.

    Use standard software

    Microsoft Word or a PDF version of your resume should be the only programs used to submit resumes. Scanning will probably not recognize any other programs, and you will never know your resume was unreadable.

    Business woman unhappy with resumes of applicants and throwing them on the table courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Milles Studio/Shutterstock.com

    Aim for one page

    Edit, edit, edit. Take out anything superfluous, reduce sentences to phrases, and remove some of your contact information. Employers don’t need your address and don’t include references unless specifically asked to do so. If you are able to edit the resume to one page, that is ideal. But NEVER go beyond two pages unless you are preparing a CV.

    Do not lie

    Not about anything. Of course, you want to try to avoid resume mistakes, and of course you want to present yourself in the best light. Exaggerating or giving yourself a job title you did not actually have are big risks. These things can be discovered when references and/or social media are reviewed. Focus on your skills and qualifications completely but honestly.

    Use action verbs

    They are so much stronger. If you don’t know the difference, here is an example:

    1. Responsible for implementing budget reduction by 10% without loss of productivity

    2. Reduced budget by 10% without loss of productivity

    The second phrase is strong and active. (P.S.: Never use “I”)

    Visual appeal is a must

    You’ve seen enough resume templates to understand what visual appeal is. The best font now is probably Arial, 12-14 point. The reason for this is there’s good, natural spacing between lines that are not complete and enough white space between bulleted points. Your final resume should have sub-headings in bold (e.g., each position), and a larger font to separate sections of the document. The goal is to make it scannable, not just by a computer program (applicant tracking systems), but by humans, too. No one wants to search for your information.

    Be clear about job titles

    So long as you are not exaggerating, use a job title that will make clear what you did at a previous organization. Sometimes, organizations have internal titles that mean nothing on the outside. So, if you were a “Level II Tech Support,” change that out to “Systems Analyst,” if that was what your position really entailed.

    Be really brief

    Do not use full sentences unless you are crafting a CV (These are prose documents). Brief phrases only, please. Remember – scannable.

    Perfect grammar and spelling

    Don’t rely only on grammar and spell-check programs. They will not recognize incorrect numbers or words that are wrong but are still words. And, in some instances misspellings will not be caught either. If you are really good in this area, read your resume backwards, and you will catch misspellings; read it forward line-by-line. If you are not highly skilled, get someone who is.

    Avoid gimmicks

    Having your resume hand-delivered by FedEx or courier is not appreciated, and, in fact, is a bit of a turnoff. Just don’t do it. Submit your resume according to the instructions on the job posting.

    Graphics should fit the company culture

    It is more acceptable today to use some color and graphics than in the past, but these resumes are best suited for younger, more progressive organizations. Tailor color and graphics based upon the culture of the company. If you are not sure, check the website. As a general rule, banks, financial, and educational/scientific institutions are conservative; tech and marketing companies are more progressive. For creative positions, graphics are certainly suitable.

    Never state salary

    Never include past salaries in your work experience. And absolutely never include your salary or benefit requirements for a new position. Epic fail if you do.

    Don’t address negatives

    If you were fired or laid off, never state this in your resume. That is the stuff for discussion during an interview. And don’t lie about it either; be as honest as possible, and never “trash” a former boss or company.

    Add links

    Long before submitting resumes, it will be important to have a professional online presence. Include the link to your LinkedIn profile and, if warranted, a website with a portfolio of your work and/or accomplishments. If you have been a guest blogger on relevant sites, provide links to those posts too.

    Update consistently

    It is often advised when you start a new position, you begin updating your resume. This is because you want to be sure to remember all of your accomplishments if and when you decide to make another career move, or if, for any reason, your employment is terminated (companies do close). Keep your resume updated all the time.

    No tag lines

    Lines such as “References available upon request,” are not necessary and just take up space. Leave them out. If you are asked for references or links to things during an interview, you can provide them at that time.

    Do not abbreviate

    The only abbreviation you can use is “U.S.” Otherwise, spell everything out. Even abbreviations for schools attended may not be known by employers. The rule for acronyms is the same; spell them out.

    This article provides a good checklist for job seekers, whether they are crafting their first resumes ever or if they are veterans with several previous resumes under their belts. Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make a difference.

    Need assistance with your resume for your job search? Get a free resume critique on College Recruiter. Also, come to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Kerry Creaswood, guest writer

    Kerry Creaswood, guest writer

    Kerry Creaswood is a young and ambitious writer from Savannah, Georgia. She is fond of various forms of art and thinks everything we can imagine is real. To find more about Kerry, check her Twitter.