Everyone who's ever been on a job hunt can testify — stitching together the perfect résumé is not a walk in the park. You can't just skipadoodledo a Word document and hope for it to score you tons of hot job interviews. You gotta work for it.
But it's not easy to get by without a little help from your friends (i.e., the Internet), and while the Web is full of useful and not-so-useful advice on how to write a good résumé, here's a point of view that can really help you understand the peculiarities of a job application.
Originally published as a response on Quora by Facebook's Engineering Recruiter Ambra Benjamin, this list offers an insight on what top recruiters look for in applicants' résumés.
According to Benjamin, it takes her up to 25 seconds to spot all of these things and you know what they say — you can't make a first impression twice. So buckle up and get ready to learn something!
It doesn't matter if your résumé boasts a long list of professional ventures or just a few roles in the same company — the first thing recruiters focus on is your latest role.
It helps them to determine what's the current field that you're in and, more importantly, why you're looking to change it.
"If it's an incoming résumé, I'm wondering why the candidate is looking now. Are they laid off? Did they get fired? Have they only been in the role for a few months and they're possibly hating it?" says Benjamin.
However, she agrees that the recruiters' main goal remains to detect if the person's most recent experience is relevant to the field they're hiring for.
Sure, not everyone's résumés can be adorned by fancy names like Google, Facebook or Amazon. But that doesn't mean they end up in a trash can that very second.
Famous company names simply help recruiters to "assign a frame of reference." In other words, they speak to the person's expertise and give them credibility.
"Oh, you worked at Amazon? Then you're probably accustomed to working on projects at scale. You're at a well-known crash-and-burn startup? You've probably worn many hats and have been running at a sprinter's pace," Benjamin explains.
What happens if your company's name wasn't ever on the radar? Nothing tragic. It only means the recruiter's first inspection of your résumé will have to be a little more thorough.
Here's where all that hard work you did over the years really comes into consideration.
Without plummeting into details about each and every role, top recruiters have to be able to detect few things: How did your career progress over time? Was there an increasing level of responsibility assigned? And — brace yourself — do the titles even make sense?
"You're a VP of marketing for a five-person company? Heck, I would be too," Benjamin jokes.
If your work experience is cohesive and matches the responsibilities required by this new position, consider yourself one step closer to sealing the deal!
Even if you do have an exceptional literary talent and your résumé is closer to a Shakespearean masterpiece than a dull list of bullet points, don't expect recruiters to read it.
Keeping it concise and to the point is one of the easiest ways to get the attention. Think of actual important keywords that match the specifics of the position you're applying for and list them in the text.
"There have been times when I Cmnd+F the crap out of résumés. This isn't fool proof, but if I'm looking for an iOS Engineer and the words iOS or Objective-C don't even make a cameo appearance in someone's résumé, I have to furrow my brow," Benjamin says.
"You took three years off to raise your children? Fine by me, and might I add: #respect. You tried your hand at starting your own company and failed miserably? Very impressive!"
According to Benjamin, recruiters will never frown upon time gaps in your résumé if you'll explain them sufficiently. It's the absence or obscurity of the explanation that makes them wonder.
Even if you don't feel comfortable disclosing your personal details about that period of time, at least be honest acknowledging it.
Just as you Google that rando from Tinder before going on a date with them, companies Google their future employees to find out more about their true personas. This can go two ways, of course.
The crash-and-burn way, where they find something inappropriate because you never bothered to adjust your privacy settings or paid any attention to your online presence for that matter.
Or the pleasantly surprising way, where they actually learn new things about you — maybe see those Instagram pics from your latest trip to New Zealand, read those witty tweets that you posted or discover your artsy genius on Behance.
No, the recruiter doesn't need to know yours or your parents' home address. However, city, state, country will help them to get a better idea of where you're located and how the process should go forward.
Applying for a job in a foreign country? Make sure you let the recruiters know if you're eligible to work there. The fewer eyebrows your résumé raises, the better.
Mind your P's and Q's, people.
Not only do you have to make sure your spelling and grammar are as flawless as Queen Bey herself, never underestimate the power of legibility, ease of use and original storytelling.
"If you're in marketing and you've lost me in the first three bullet points, I have concerns," Benjamin notes.
Oh, and here's a handy cheat sheet to make sure you don't forget all the tips and tricks that you learned:
(Illustrations by Michael Schall / A Plus)