You can’t judge a book by its cover. But you can decide whether you want to keep reading. The same holds true for job applicants’ resumes.
A resume is the story of your work life summarized in one or two pages. Those two sheets of paper – or PDF, as is usually the case today – have to represent you before you get an opportunity to represent yourself.
Duke Energy recruiters review a lot of resumes. A recent posting for a job in a call center attracted 600 applicants. And since recruiters may have responsibility for 70 job postings at any one time, it’s imperative your resume stand out. Does your resume tell an accurate story about you? Is it tidy and typo-free? Is it compelling? Recruiters share a few pointers.
1. Have a resume. It may sound obvious but Recruiting Manager Katie Krantz said many people who have been in the same job or at the same company for years don’t think about keeping their resumes current. That’s a mistake. When a job opening is posted, you have limited time – maybe three to five business days – to apply. You won’t want to scramble to recall your key accomplishments from years past. Review and update your resume at least once a year – no matter how long you’ve been in the workforce.
“If you’re low on relevant experience, highlight your aptitude,” Krantz said. “Maybe you’ve worked at a car wash or in fast food. Demonstrate on paper that you have the ability to learn something new and take on more responsibility. If you can equate your experience at the car wash with the energy industry, even better.”
2. Make your resume relevant. If you haven’t worked in the energy industry but have worked in another regulated industry (like banking or transportation), your resume should highlight that. It’s relevant.Consider having different versions of your resume targeted to different sectors.
3. Be selective about where you submit your resume. “When we see that someone has applied for 70 jobs at the same time – and that has happened – it diminishes their credibility,” Krantz said. Apply only to the jobs for which you are qualified.
“Make sure you meet the basic requirements for the job,” said Candice McPhatter, a recruiter at Duke Energy. “If a job description indicates you need five years of experience and you have three, you don’t meet the minimum requirements – even if your three years of experience are at Duke Energy. You might be the ideal candidate two years from now. But this is a legal and compliance issue. There just isn’t any wiggle room.”
4. Pay attention to detail. Is everything spelled correctly? Double-check grammar, job titles and dates of employment. Make sure your verb tenses are correct, McPhatter said. “When you write about your current job, make it in present tense. When referring to previous experience, use past tense.”
Get a friend or family member to review your resume. You can have all the right experience and education but a typo will create a negative impression before you get a foot in the door.
5. Format counts. Is it easy to read? Stick to basic fonts rather than cutesy or cursive. List your experience starting with your current or most recent job at the top. If you choose another way to format your resume, make it easy for the recruiter to see your work history. Don’t send a recruiter on a scavenger hunt to find key employment dates.
Recruiters are looking for work history; how to contact you (city, email, phone number – some people choose to remove their street address); education; outside activities (include volunteering and anything that relates to career growth); technical skills/competencies.
Be sure they can find what they need to know – without having to hunt. Your resume is your first impression. Is it the one you want to make?