Playing the résumé game to win

I have looked at my share of résumés over the years. Given the hours it took to write your résumé, it will likely dishearten you to know that the average recruiter spends mere seconds scanning the document. You have very little time to make the desired impression.

Here are the most closely scrutinized details on your résumé:

  • Recent and relevant experience – Recruiters want to know what you have been doing lately. They quickly scan your most recent job title, company name, duties, and position start and end dates. If this information is not clearly communicated or if it is not a match, it is unlikely that the recruiter will look further.

  • The Header – Your name, home address, area code, and even email address begin to paint a picture of you as a candidate. Are you a long-time, local resident? Are you more transient? Will you have a long commute? What is your gender? Will you need to relocate? Would you require a visa to work in the U.S.? Recruiters try to soak this all up in a matter of seconds and begin to form opinions about your “fit” for the position.
  • Education – Depending on the job requirements, your education may be a deal breaker or it may simply be “interesting” information. Regardless, education can offer insights into a candidate’s potential level of professionalism, expertise, interests, background, and even age. Note: some recruiters and hiring managers will be impressed by graduate and doctoral degrees and others view higher education as a poor substitute for real-world experience.

Passing a recruiter’s résumé scrutiny is in many ways a crapshoot. There are too many variables that candidates cannot know or control. Job searchers often “spin” certain details about themselves but generally, “it is what it is.” You are who you are.

All this spinning makes me dizzy. Yep, it is a game. What wins me over is a candidate who is straightforward and honest in how they present themselves. Present the truth of who you are and trust that the right opportunity is out there.

That is how to play the résumé game to win.

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