It’s a good idea to take a few minutes before submitting your resume to identify who will be the first set of eyes to read your resume in the initial screening for the hiring organization.
For example, are you applying through a recruitment consultant, corporate recruiter, ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software, Hiring Manager, Owner or CEO?
Depending on what you are applying for and who you are applying to, I’d recommend tweaking your presentation accordingly. A lot of applicant tracking systems and recruiting software are designed to parse resumes and search for key words or phrases that are usually included in a job description.
If that industry phrase, key word or specific experience identifier is not included in your resume, the chances of making it to the hiring manager’s desk are stacked against you.
Spelling and Grammar: Proofread, Proofread, Proofread. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are one of the easiest ways to red flag yourself right out of the gates (if not completely disqualify you from the process).
I’ve recently had a client disqualify an industry experienced candidate on spelling alone even after a great first interview. The position he was interviewing for relied on professional written communication.
Fonts and Formats: For the most part, stay away from abstract resume formats and fonts that could also potentially disqualify your candidacy.
From the research I’ve done along with agency and corporate recruitment consultants I’ve spoken with, the staple “go-to” formats (for resumes at least) are Times New Roman (12pt) or Arial (11pt or 12pt). Garamond, Georgia and Verdana are also easily read without taking the focus off the actual content of a CV.
Clear, legible and professional are the biggest reasons to select a font for a majority of resumes.
Online assessments and corporate questionnaires: This can be very tricky, and I’ve seen organizations hire individuals who have previously failed a corporate online questionnaire.
Although the recruitment and candidate screening world is turning more and more to 3rd party data and analytics, an online assessment is a tool that many larger organizations still utilize in their initial recruitment process.
The only advice I’d give here is to be honest and to complete the entire test. As mentioned, I have had a client hire a candidate whom I’d introduced and who did not pass the standard corporate online assessment, but the hiring organization still found a way to hire her based on her experience and attitude.
There are many ways to improve your presentation but so many ways disqualify a potential candidate before making it to that all important first interview.
Hopefully these few pieces of advice can assist in getting you to the human interaction part of the recruitment process.
Written by: Sean Casey