Wondering why recruiters don’t call you back, and how you’re ever going to get hired in this recession?
As it turns out, hiring authorities continually see problems with the resumes that come their way, with what one noted was “more pet peeves on this issue than Elin Woods’ attorney on the new pre-nuptial agreement.”
However, most recruiters are more than happy to share their advice for getting your resume into the “yes” pile, with recommendations for fonts, sentence bullets, length, file formats, and more.
This week, I talked with Raj Khera, CEO of email marketing firm MailerMailer, professional headhunter and Guerrilla Marking for Job Hunters 2.0 co-author David Perry, recruiter Angee Linsey of Linsey Careers Recruitment and Consulting, HR Director Greg Szymanski, recruiter Mitch Beck of Crossroads Consulting, Absolutely Abby careers expert and Lead Staffing Consultant Abby Kohut, and recruiter Mel Adkinson of RF Technologies, Inc. to gain insight on recruiter resume turnoffs—starting with length.
Surprisingly enough, even with all the advice piled on job hunters about keeping a resume to 2 pages, many professionals seem to have missed the memo. Recruiters say that they’re still being barraged with 4- and 5-page novels instead of the concise presentations they need.
Khera, who recruits software engineering, graphic design, marketing, PR, and customer support professionals, notes that receiving an “essay” is the biggest problem. “Don’t tell your life story and take 5 pages to do it. These go directly into the trash.” Perry adds that anything over 3 pages is considered a “resume brick” and a quick turn-off.
Linsey agrees, saying that 4- and 5-page resumes provide “too much information” for the average job hunter, making it hard for recruiters to digest the data. She encourages job hunters to boil down their message to 2 pages, adding that a third-page addendum of publications or technical skills is ideal for job hunters in IT or education.
Recruiter Mitch Beck reinforces the idea that most resumes are too long, saying with 7 to 10 seconds for a quick glance, he may need to move on rather than try to decipher the candidate’s value proposition.
Recruiters are equally vocal about professionals trying to fit too much information into a tight space in an effort to adhere to the (outdated) admonition about single-page resumes.
Adkinson says that using 8-point font to cram all of your data into “just 1 page” isn’t helpful to a recruiter, pointing out 2-page resumes are perfectly acceptable for those with sufficient experience to warrant it. Most hiring authorities, he noted, prefer a clean, readable font of at least 11 points.
It’s important to leave sufficient white space on a resume, according to Kohut—and this often means expanding it to a second page. If your resume is hard to read, she notes, it’s more likely to be passed over by a recruiter who can’t gauge your fitness for their open positions. She publishes resume tips each Tuesday in a series called Rockin’ Resumes.
Szymanski, who recruits for the real estate development industry, agrees that readability is the key to being selected for an interview. Job hunters who display the “failure to write succinctly” make it harder for their resume to be easily scanned—or for them to be recommended for the next step in the hiring process.
When it comes to brevity, Beck is emphatic. “Your resume should never be more than 2 pages, even if you’re George Bush,” he says. “Nobody has time to read that much information.”