To Escape Black Hole, Keep Your CVs Short, Smart, To The Point
Simplicity is the most difficult thing to secure in this world…” French novelist George Sand’s words hold true for most aspects of life, including your resume.
Techies often struggle with that. There is a temptation to write it all, from vision and objective to college projects. It’s exactly what they shouldn’t do. And it’s the reason why applying online is called the resume black hole. Thousands of resumes go in, never to be seen again.
Recruiters have barely a few seconds to look at a resume. So how do you ensure your resume stands out, whether it’s a human or an AI system that’s doing the filtering?
“Short and simple resumes always work better,” says Suresh Bethavandu, global head of talent acquisition at Cognizant. One-page resumes, he says, get the most views — not just because they are easy to process but they are also better at retaining recruiter interest and underscoring the candidate’s ability to showcase relevant competencies and achievements in a concise manner.
Protima Achaya, director of staffing and people operations at NetApp India & APAC, too underlines the importance of precise writing, and warns against long winding paragraphs. “Keep it focused on skills and experience and avoid generalised statements,” she says.
Globally, 75% of hiring managers use applicant tracking systems (ATS), so more than 50% of the resumes don’t even reach the human eye. Hence, candidates should think in terms of SEO (search engine optimisation) and keywords, says Ajay Shah, VP of recruitment services at TeamLease Services.
Industry buzzwords like Java, Python and Hadoop are examples of keywords. But it’s important that you use the keywords that match the job description. And if you try to beat the system by populating resumes with keywords, that may not be good for you in the longer term. “Such applicants get filtered out at face-to-face interviews,” says Chaitanya Peddi, co-founder of Darwinbox, a firm which has a proprietary machine learning- (ML-) based resume parsing software.
“Titles like tech evangelist may sound cool but will not come up in a search,” says NetApp’s Achaya. Umasanker K, COO of HR tech firm Bruhat Insights Global, says the ageold resume format of noting ‘objective’, ‘vision’, etc too is no longer relevant as AI-driven ATS don’t recognise such narratives.
Peddi says calling out clearly the programming languages you know, the colleges you have studied at, and your past organisations is key, because ML tools like theirs rely on these fields to assign ranks.
Jaideep Chavan, head of talent acquisition at Capgemini India, says freshers should specify all skills, including technical certifications they have acquired that helps them to be industry ready. “Digital has fuelled demand for niche skills and candidates who have completed niche technical certifications such as Pega, AWS, ServiceNow, PLM, etc are preferred. It is also essential to call out projects done during internships and how they are relevant,” he says.
It’s also critical that the resume aligns with the advertised vacancy. “Many job seekers use the same resume for over 10 years just updating details of experience. In reality, for 10 different jobs, you need 10 different resumes,” says Umasanker.
That’s a point that Terrence Kuo, a software engineer at Tesla, also makes: Tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. Writing in freecodecamp.org, Kuo says he struggled a lot with landing interviews when he first started looking for a software engineering job. And then he analysed what kind of resume would work. After trial and error, he perfected one that he says got him interviews at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple.
Among his recommendations are: Make it a one-pager; make it ridiculously easy for the recruiter to read and find your name, and contact address; ensure a uniform look for each section because it enhances readability; no fancy colours or fonts. Kuo says if you are a fresher and have attended college, this should be the first section of the resume, because going to college is a huge accomplishment and tells the recruiter that you are invested in education and learning.
Experienced professionals, Chavan says, should think strategically while creating resumes. “Make sure your resume tells a clear story about who you are as a professional.”