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In this episode of our short series "Ask A Recruiter," career expert Jazmine Reed-Clark reviews real-life resumes from the TFD audience, showing what works, what doesn't, and what's likely to make a recruiter put you in the "yes" or "no" column.

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Hi, I'm Jazmine Reed-Clark for the Financial Diet and this is Ask A Recruiter.

In this series, we get into all of the tips, tricks, and tea related to job hunting and surviving your 9:00 to 5:00. A little background on me, I currently am a career counselor and prior to going out on my own, I was working in the recruiting and human resources space for five years and I continue to do so on a freelance basis from multiple clients.

In today's episode specifically, we are going to get into definitely my number one FAQ which is how does my resume look and all of the subsequent questions that really come with it. Today, we thought it would be most helpful if I put on my recruiter hat and took a look at five to six resumes and really gave my honest opinion. But before we get into all of that, I think a little bit of context is going to be helpful so that you can maximize all of the tips I'm going to get to you today.

So here is your stat of the video. On average, a recruiter spends six seconds, that's it, six seconds on every resume they look at. And that's because we receive hundreds, sometimes even thousands for one singular job.

And at smaller firms and agencies like the ones I freelance for, we don't have the luxury of having multiple recruiters on a team so it's really us sifting through it all. So if you have six seconds to grab a recruiter's attention, there are a few things to keep in mind. You want it to be engaging, you want it to feel relevant within the first few seconds, and you want it to be easy and clean to read.

I was listening to the Career Contessa podcast, which I highly recommend especially for everyday women surviving their 9:00 to 5:00, and there was a recent episode just on resumes alone. And one thing that the guest said that I thought was really interesting was why do we all like LinkedIn more than resumes. Well, not only is it digital and usually just a little bit more accessible and we're always on our phones, sure, but also LinkedIn's very easy to read.

It's just a simple top to bottom. There's not a lot of graphics you have that are convoluted or messing up the framework. So it's really helpful if you take that same approach with your own resume.

Resumes I think part of why they feel like such a huge mystery is because in fact they are going into a bit of a black hole sometimes. Recruiters use something called an applicant tracking system, its shorthand is an ATS and there are sites like LinkedIn Recruiter, Lever, Greenhouse, and these are really meant to serve as both project management and CRM tools so that we can stay on top of the pipeline that we're creating usually for multiple jobs at a time. And it allows us to really sift through the talent pool hopefully more efficiently and maximizing the people who are most interested in these jobs.

But like most of AI, it's not entirely perfect so as I go through these different resumes, I'm going to show you how you can really take your resume to the next level as well as show you things that could be hurting your chances at making that first big impression within the first six seconds to a recruiter. [MUSIC PLAYING] OK. If we were to look at this particular candidate Jane Doe, my first impression right off the bat is she doesn't have a ton of experience. There's not a lot on her resume and that's absolutely fine.

But my first thought without even reading anything is, she either is a recent high school grad and potentially a recent college grad. Regardless, I'm putting her in that super super green entry level job. So if I'm currently hiring for something that's mid-level or senior, I'm going to automatically reject the resume.

But let's just assume for a moment that I am looking for a super green entry level like first year out of school job. So when I look at this, I think OK, really a lot of white space. Maybe she didn't participate in things in her community or she didn't take extra courses but when I took a sharper eye to everything that Jane had, here were the things that really stood out to me.

I think a great positive is that her work was really clean. It's very easy to read and that really is a huge bonus. Here's why.

You make it easier if a real life person is reading your resume, awesome, but also the ATS system, that applicant tracking system or the black hole as I call it, it does favor resumes that are cleaner and sleeker in design. Again you have to remember this is AI trying to read something so that's going for her. But I've highlighted right here there is an inconsistent formatting and because she had less material on her resume, I would expect that there should be zero formatting issues.

So this makes me wonder what her attention to detail is like. And down here as well, I saw that there was also a formatting issue. So it makes me wonder did she make her resume in a hurry, does she really want this job.

One of the biggest bonuses I can give you is just-- even if it's literally having a template where you just put in the company's name and you just take enough time to show that you went to the website, can go a long way in cover letters or even resumes if it feels like it was focused towards us. One thing you can even do is when you save your resume, you should save it with your first and last name and if nothing else, definitely your last name and then dash the job in which you're applying for. It signals to us hey, I really want this job.

I took time, I'm not just sending my resume to 100 people, I sent it specifically to you even if you didn't. It's all about perception. And then under skills she has two words careful and determined and while those are absolutely great attributes, I would love to see are more robust skills list.

One thing you can really do especially if you're not a writer, is go to sites like TestGorilla or The Balance, again Career Contessa is another really great resource and type in hard skills, soft skills. Not only are you going to learn the difference and realize what you should be speaking to in both interviews, your resume, and your cover letter, you can then have a list of skills that are going to stand out in ATS systems. And a little hack, it's not perfect, there are ways to walk around.

There's a lot of ATS systems are getting more sophisticated. Go to the job description you're looking for, what skills do they list for and then treat it like an SEO project. Put those skills under your skill set if you truly have them of course.

But I do love that other languages, she is bilingual. I think that is absolutely something to highlight. Oh my-- you would be shocked the amount of clients that my husband included.

My husband is bilingual. He speaks fluent Spanish and he's like yeah well, this is not a big deal. I'm like, yes.

Come on now. The other thing that I would really highlight here is her executive summary. Some people call this a candidate summary.

You'll hear it called different things. This is essentially your elevator pitch. If you would love to see a video on how to create your perfect executive summary, your perfect elevator pitch, leave a comment down below.

I would love to make a video on that. But when I look at Jane's resume ultimately, I want her to tell more of a story. So she can really go that extra mile by letting me know what kind of courses she took, different ways that she's active in her community if she is.

I would love to see her go back and take a sharper eye to her formatting and make sure that everything is cohesive. And finally, I would love to see her fill her resume with more soft skills so that I really get an idea of who she is and what she is most excited about. [MUSIC PLAYING] All right. For resume number two, we have Joanna Doe.

And with Joanna, I did want to show you guys what a nearly perfect resume looks like. I saw this and I swear to God I heard like a choir of angels singing and Joanna killed it. So first off the bat, it already feels really honestly like luxuriously professional and I'm making that up, that phrase up but sometimes we're often seeing the same templates over and over and that absolutely does not work against you but it just-- these do have a more professional feel.

It feels cohesive, intentional and I love that it's one page but it's filled. And just going back to the LinkedIn example where part of why we love to look at people's LinkedIn, it's not just recruiters but cyber stalkers as well, it's just very easy to read, there are you up and down. So when you can be able to create sections but always have the eye going to top to bottom because when it's going right to left, up down and we're trying to decipher these really cool graphics you've made, it can be a little bit more challenging and create frustration for the recruiter and or the ATS system.

So when I break down why I felt Joanna's resume was so phenomenal, let's start off with highlights. I am seeing this way more with resumes, in fact I updated my own resume to include this too. When you have this, those six seconds you've captivated me, you've gotten them and in those six seconds I now know her top four accomplishments.

Other things that I found that she did really well and it's a really small detail but she made sure to use different verbs. Often we see supported, directed, and it's not that you should exclude especially if you're trying to game the system a little bit with SEO tricks, it's just more like let's have a variety. And there's a really great resource that I've linked in the notes below and I believe it has something like 89 or 99 verbs you can use and I have it bookmarked when I'm working with clients.

Because look, not everyone's a wordsmith, but I just need to have enough variety. So we have words like built, incorporated, accommodated, executed, assessed, and developed. I am already starting to picture Joanna in my mind and with this variety of words, I'm already seeing the different projects she can be working on and what is within her scope of work.

And I love that she still had relevant skills and technical competencies. This goes so much further than you can even know. Say the softwares you used.

You might think this is so obvious everyone in my industry uses this and perhaps it's true. For example OnePlan, I used in live and die by HubSpot. So if somebody has HubSpot on their resume, it gets kicked up to the top.

It's totally normal in digital media to be familiar with HubSpot so it may seem something small to include but you would be shocked what it can mean to different hiring managers who are hoping they don't have to onboard you and teach you everything, including the basics. So, good job Joanna. [MUSIC PLAYING] We have Jolene Doe. And with Jolene, this is actually a really great example of a resume that is good.

She could easily submit this, see some results but I would love to give her some tips on how to take it up just a little bit of a notch. So, in this we're again going back to that first six seconds. And the first six seconds I think she's clear, concise, very well-organized.

I love that everything's on one page and that it's very clear what sections are where. However, I would love to see Jolene put something right here underneath her header so that I really know what is she looking for, especially because she has a background in both communications, writing, and being a media relations specialist. Now that alone makes her this really marketable Jane of all trades but I'd love to know, does she want to dive deeper into something.

Let's say she does and it's media relations, then I would love for her to also have a candidate summary explaining her background, her specialization and really where she would love to take her skill set. So the way to really kick this up a notch again is to add an executive summary, also a header, something could be media relations specialist under her name. And then the one thing that isn't a must do but I think could really serve her well is, it is just slightly crowned.

Right through here it's just a little bit crowned. If she were a client, I would say to her, hey, consider going to ATSii. That is where I get all of my templates and when I was a resume writer, I no longer do that.

When I was a resume writer, I just went to ATSii guys and usually get a really awesome ATS tested resume for less than $10, sometimes less than $5 and it can last you for your whole career. So to me, the investment is well worth it. But another thing I loved is that she has her LinkedIn listed right here.

You would be shocked how many people have your name and even live in your state, or sometimes it's just based off what connections we do or don't have. You might be shadow-banned or I might be shadow banned and it just helps to just go straight to the URL and not guess. Final notes, I would tell her to add her title here, add an executive summary stating what she wants to do and what her specialization is in, and then toy around with a new tablet so that she can get a little bit more spacing but still keep it at one page. [MUSIC PLAYING] For our fourth resume, we have Joelle Doe.

And at first glance, like the first six seconds, I take this in. I think it looks really clean, crisp, it's really easy to read. I see that she's really put enough time and energy into it.

I love when I can see bullet points, but it also looks like I'll get to learn a little bit of the overall overview of her role. But now let's dig a little bit deeper. So right here I see aspiring.

Now what I would assume is, she is either a recent grad or she is looking to transition industries. If it is the former, I think two pages might be a little too long. I would love to see her condense this down into one page and just give the most relevant experience to the role that she's looking to do, which is being a data scientist.

And she really does that already within the first page alone, showing me the different science projects she's worked on and showing me her most relevant work experience and the tools that she uses. So I think we could likely do away with the second page but this is again digging in at just an eye level. Now if she is looking to switch industries, I think that is where she could even add this in her executive summary so it takes out the guessing game.

Because now I'm tempted to go to LinkedIn and try and put some pieces together on my own but I think putting that in the summary is really great. And if you are trying to switch industries, please don't be embarrassed of your past or feel like it's not worth mentioning. So much of your skill set is likely transferable.

You can relate to either leadership roles that you did in your previous industry and different certifications that you received. It can even work to your benefit. People may feel like they're getting the price of two experts for one so use it to your advantage.

It's all about using it strategically. Now again, I'm still going to rule knowing that she's class of 2022. Again, she could just be someone who went to school later in life but I'm going to look at this moving forward as a recent grad.

So with that, I would tell her let's shorten it to one page. And also looking through it, I notice that there is a little bit of inconsistency with the work experience, how she's doing. For some, she is giving me bullet points, I would love to see bullet points with each one.

It makes me wonder if she's not doing it here is she hiding something, does she not work on enough, is she perhaps embarrassed of the project she worked on, or felt they are unimpressive enough. Probably my number one tip and I would give it to Joelle as well is, use metrics wherever you can. And if you're like, I don't know any metrics, I don't remember my metrics try answering the following questions.

How did I save the company money? That is things like efficiency, literally going through the P&L. How did I make the company money?

Did you work on any collaborations or projects that acquired new business, new clients? How did I make my boss' life easier? This is going to show more of your team player skill set and what is a leadership flex that I had.

So if you were able to work on-- if you led an ERG at your company, even if you got to have a supervisory role, even if you aren't a manager, those are leadership flexes that you can use in your resume and show what the end outcome was. So you can say led x project which was, insert the solution it was trying to solve, and trying to solve the blank problem, semicolon, end result, what the end result was. So to close with Joelle specifically, I would say let's shorten it to one page, let's go ahead and add those bullet points and let's add a couple of metrics.

But overall, I think her formatting is really good. I think it's really clear she's passionate about what she wants to do and I can tell she really wants to find a role where she is useful. So I will say this, her resume tells me she is hungry, eager, and I would absolutely set up a phone call with her just because she has something you can't buy, work ethic. [MUSIC PLAYING] Moving on to John Doe.

So, fun breaking news. I am currently hiring for a media relations specialist, and I am truly going to reach out to this person and see if they would be interested but here is my big question mark. And this goes straight into one of my critiques, would be, what is he looking to do again, to really drive it home.

Candidate summaries are really great for that. It helps us realize that this is really a role you're interested in and that again you're not just shooting your shot with 1,000 different companies, but you really think this is going to be a sound fit. Now we are doing, obviously a video for the Financial Diet but this could be something that he puts on his resume otherwise but in this moment it would just be lovely to know where does he want to be, where does he want to take all of this freelancing advice, or does he want to remain a freelancer, things that we'll find out when I email him.

The things that really drew me in and the reason that I do plan to reach out to him include the fact that, it's really clear, concise, it's very easy right away to understand. He is a freelancer, writer, reporter, and journalist and then he just lays it out in such a concise manner. He lets me know that his verticals or at least his main verticals are science, technology, and health.

I have blacked out some of his highest engaged materials that he highlighted but knowing those things are really helpful. And then I can go and look up those articles myself. Other things that I also enjoy, I love when people leave their social handles if they are professional and something that you want me to look at.

So this can also be really great for me to see what's the latest and greatest going on in your world. I would really recommend this especially for graphic designers. I would almost tell you definitely have a portfolio.

I get that question, and I tell my graphic designer clients definitely have a visual portfolio of course, but even having a professional Instagram is even better. But really, my only true negative critique of this is just wanting to see an executive summary to know does he want to stay a freelancer or is he looking for a full time role and if so, what is that. One other thing I would love to point out is that he added an award section.

It's really great because not only again are you flexing on yourself, bragging on yourself, I can see. At least what it is, it leaves signals to me and hey, I know some awards are not always based on merit, but it signals to me you likely go above and beyond, you're competitive, and nothing else, you put out really high quality work that is deserving of recognition. So even if you do internal awards, at one employer we did end of the year awards, put those things on your resume.

I want to know why do people love you, why is your company going to be so sad when you leave. So, good on you John. And that concludes my resume critique for this episode but if you would love your resume critiqued or you have a different idea for an episode of Ask A Recruiter, please leave it in the comments below and be sure to subscribe, hit that notification bell so that you never miss an episode of anything happening on the TFD YouTube channel.

Again, I am Jazmine Reed-Clark. This is Ask A Recruiter and until next time, we'll see you soon. Bye.