In my opinion, there are 5 components that comprise a KILLER resume. You don’t need to have all 5 components to find a great job and most people take years to possess all 5, but these criteria will make any recruiter sit on the edge of his/her seat while reading over a resume.
As a professional technology recruiter at a staffing firm in Washington DC, I spent the vast majority of my day pouring over dozens and dozens of resumes. It can be a painful process, constantly searching the job boards, LinkedIn and job applications for that perfect candidate. Seeing so many resumes, many of which might not be the best fit for a particular position, can get monotonous and tiring quite quickly.
To perform above expectations in the recruiting chair, you must be able to quickly identify the top candidates for a position, putting your time and energy into the job candidacy of those individuals to increase your chances for success. I’ve gotten to the point where I can look at a resume and for the most part, tell whether the particular candidate will be a good fit for a position or not within about two minutes. This certainly isn’t always the case, but the five components of a killer resume from me are often times the criteria I use to help identify excellent candidates.
So what are these criteria?
5 Components to a Killer Resume
The job market is a tough, harsh environment for many people. However, the ability to have a stable work history is something that I personally (and many employers/recruiters) find appealing. By stating this, I don’t mean that you must work at the same company for 15 years at every stop of your resume, but the ability to avoid large gaps in employment is a huge positive for your resume. Quite simply, a resume without large gaps in employment is going to make you seem more employable in the future.
For many recruiters and employers, seeing a large unemployment gap will potentially bring up a number of red flags that you should be fully prepared to explain to the hiring manager. There are always extenuating circumstances that may cause someone from participating in the workforce for an extend period of time, but you must be prepared to speak to those gaps because employers will be curious.
Having relevant experience to the position someone has applied to is HUGE for the hiring company. As a recruiter, I don’t always agree with it being necessary and as someone who changed fields from recruiting to software sales, it made my job search more difficult, but it’s something you need to be aware of.
If a company is seeking a Java Software Engineer, they’re going to want to see someone who has extensive experience with Java. If you have a background in Java, you’ll be likely placed above a job candidate who has .NET programming experience but is interested in learning Java. If you have relevant experience to the specific position you are targeting, it’s a surefire way of generating interest from a hiring manager. If you’re trying to change career fields, you must work to let the recruiter or hiring manager know why you can excel quickly without the “required relevant experience”.
Degrees aren’t necessarily an indicator of a candidates ability to perform on the job, especially someone with 10+ years of experience. However, it’s much easier to sell a candidate to a client that has advanced degrees from a reputable college/university than a candidate who simply has a high school degree.
In some cases, certain companies don’t even look at resumes without a college (or advanced) degree for certain positions. Having or exceeding the required degree “needed” for a position, while also specializing the in the field of your education, will pay major dividends for you in a successful job search.
Certifications don’t apply to every industry or field, however, they are very relevant in places like information technology, where I spent the majority of my time recruiting. Certifications often show that you have industry-specific knowledge, that typically is gained through on the job experience or through extensive self-study. Certifications are also an excellent way to replace or account for a lack of formal education.
Working with reputable, well-known companies is often a great indication of a strong candidate, because those candidates go through such an extensive hiring process to get to the position where that they are currently in. That’s not to say that every employee at Fortune 500 companies is the perfect job candidate, but it’s significantly easier to convince a hiring manager to look at someone from a well-known company than a company that they’ve never heard of.
Do you need all 5 components for a killer resume?
No, you really don’t. I’ve worked with a number of GREAT job candidates with “deficiencies” in some or all of these five areas. This list is simply a point of reference that you can use to work towards different aspects of a resume and career that will make you a more attractive candidate in the future.
I’ve left a few different criteria for a killer resume off of this post for the sake of space, but what do you think should be added?
Do you think these are accurate or are there aspects of someone’s background that you feel are more important?