Recently, Revision Resume sat down with Nicole M., Director and HR Business Partner, to get her thoughts on resumes. Here’s what she had to say (note: conversations have been paraphrased for brevity and flow).
Tell me a little about what you like to see in a resume.
Key for me is that the applicant includes qualifications specific to the job posting. Each resume should be tweaked to be slightly different for each job posting you apply to, based on qualifications desired and company profile.
I also like to see transferable skills within the resume, and the applicant’s LinkedIn account within their contact information.
What leads you to discard a resume?
Excessive length. Generally speaking, a resume should not be more than 2 pages, and should only include relevant experience.
Another turnoff is bullet points that simply list responsibilities from previous roles without results. Ideally, each bullet under job experience should include an action the applicant took, followed by what resulted from their action, so we can see the results of their efforts.
Do you use an applicant tracking system (ATS)?
Yes, we do, but we basically use it as a filing cabinet. Some companies use the keyword feature to cherry-pick or discard resumes, but we don’t. And, if we see a resume we like but there’s no vacancies suited for that applicant, we definitely hang on to it in case something appropriate opens up.
Have you been hiring mainly through online job boards, or via networking?
COVID certainly put a damper on the networking avenue, though it’s starting to make a comeback. I would have to say at this point we still receive most of our leads from online job boards or employee referrals.
A lot of people feel a cover letter is unnecessary. What is your opinion?
I think they are useful, especially for explaining situations that may not be obvious through your resume, such as why you are relocating.
What about thank you notes?
I love receiving thank yous! It just sends such a positive message. Don’t get me wrong, if you are on the bottom of the pile, a thank you isn’t going to rocket you to the top. But I would go so far as to say that if I already had someone in mind for a role and received a thank you from them, that would seal the deal.
Any other pieces of advice for job applicants?
Be selective in the skills you choose to list on your resume. Some people take up a lot of valuable space with a separate skills section that lists things like “good communication” or “team player.” Those skills are important, but they can be communicated through your bullet points in job experience. A Skills Section – if you include one – should be used to highlight certain technical skills, like knowledge of specific types of software.