Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Formatting Your Resume For The Hiring Manager - Your Target Audience

2018-02-25 11:05:41

There has been a shift recently in resume formatting that has made my primary job...reading resumes...a headache. "New" resume formats include graphics and charts, using colors and icons, and splitting documents into multiple columns.

But more importantly than making my job a headache, these formats don't appeal to hiring managers. And that, my readers, is your target audience for your resume. If a hiring manager doesn't like the format on your resume, s/he isn't even going to look at it.

Here is an example. I am currently hiring for several Data Scientists. The *role* of a DS is to create user dashboards and graphic elements using data visualization software like Tableau to help business leaders see trends and analyses of hard business data. But guess what? I have looked at over 500 resumes in the last few weeks, and have sent the manager 3 of them that have used charts to try and show expertise. The result? He asked me not to send any more; he doesn't want to try and wade through things that don't give him hard data...which is where data scientists START their jobs.

The caveat to this observation, of course, is if you are in a creative field. Artist, UX designer, graphic designer, etc. Then by all means, go to town. A photo should also NEVER EVER be on your resume unless you are in the entertainment industry.

"New" resume formats are created by companies that don't understand why the basic text resume has been around for so long. There are several reasons.
1) It is easy to read. English speakers read from the upper left hand corner, scanning left to right, top to bottom. Our comprehension is based on a smooth flow of reading. The old maxim that you have 6-10 minutes to grab a person's attention is true. I tend to spend a bit more than average on resumes...closer to 15 seconds. But if I cannot actually *read* your resume because it is segmented in ways that do not make sense, or has graphics littered all over it, or you try and "quantify" your skills with a chart or graph...I'm not even going to bother.

2) Hiring Managers want to see what you did, when you did it, and how it positively affected your employer. Your experience needs to be CONTEXTUAL (meaning the functional format is of no use to a hiring manager.) You need to tie your experience to the work you are doing (or want to do.)

3) Compliance reasons: this is the big one that most people advocating for "new" resume formats don't understand: hiring organizations are bound by several different governmental requirements that relate to hiring. This means that they must evaluate candidates based on their detailed, quantifiable skills as stated in the job description. If recruiters and hiring managers cannot easily see what you have done, we aren't even going to consider you. Don't even think about a video resume; recruiters and hiring managers won't look at them because of the potential for discrimination.

If you want to "jazz up" your resume, use bold, underline, italics, , spacing/indentations, and bullet points (heck, you can try experimenting with different shapes for a bullet point). Run it by friends, neighbors, and other people that are hiring managers (NOT your best friend, or your professor, or your parents...find an objective 3rd party that makes hiring decisions regularly). Get opinions from people that look at resumes and actually have ideas of what they do/don't like and want to see.

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