Do you "KIS" with your candidate's resume?

I have been around the business for a long time. Early on and being far less intelligent, something debated to this day I might add, I was quick to use the resume given to me by candidates to present them to my clients. I did little to nothing to change anything on the resume.

I have gotten smarter over the years. Resumes have become very fluid over the years. Candidates, in their infinite wisdom, have put together their resume as best they could with advice from every expert in the industry. Some are told that function resumes are the best, others the chronological is best. For each expert you ask advice from on resume writing you could almost bet on getting a different answer. It often would appear that the expert would suggest it be fluffed up here, dressed up there and made prettier to attract the right attention. Did anyone ever ask what the audience, the Hiring Manager, was looking to see? Not very often.

Now, many times, we do not know the Hiring Manager as well as we would like to. Seldom can we read their mind. We should know what they are looking for in a candidate though. That, in and of itself, still should give us a good idea of how the resume should look. As an introduction to a candidate, the resume being a marketing or sales tool, should be able to grab attention quickly, concisely and completely. After all, we do want the Hiring Manager to be drawn into and read the resume, do we not?

I will not get into all the philosophy of resume writing here, such as the OBJECTIVE, what it should say and how it should be said, etc, but I do want to address the KIS. I get resumes in all shapes, sizes and fashion. Many times they are not focused, have too much irrelevant information and say things they should not. They just do not look right for presentation and need working over, and in many cases, dramatic working over. Here are suggestions I give my candidates on the most common elements I see that need reworking to create the KIS resume:

ONE: Functional, chronological, functional, chronological, that is the question.

* there is no absolute right way here but you should have one or the other that is factual, informative and straight to the point.

* I prefer chronological because my experience is that more and more employers want to see where you worked, when you worked there (more and more want month and year), and what you did when you were there. Chronological does that and I have never had anyone object on a chronological resume. I have, however, had Hiring Managers request a functional resume be replaced with chronological resumes.

* I find that technical positions and technical Hiring Managers tend to prefer chronological resumes because they can be more fact based and to the point as many technical people are.

* if a candidate is going to use a functional resume I suggest using it for non-technical positions.

TWO: The application that the resume is written in is important in that most resume databases employers use today accept only word doc resumes and/or work easier with word docs.

* PDF, TEXT and others are generally not as user friendly as the old standby Word Doc, so, to me, KIS with a word doc resume.

* I suggest not using some of the formatted resume templates that are out there for writing resumes because they also can be problematic with some databases, simply type out the resume on a Word Doc.

* I would not expect someone in HR to try an reformat your resume to fit it into their database if need be, it likely will not happen and if it does, it will not be the first thing they do.

THREE: Put “ALL” contact information on the resume and not in a header or footer.

* many resumes are looked at on a computer and no one I know wants to go to print preview to see the contact information; if the resume is not presented in hard copy, this becomes an unfriendly step that does not win friends or influence people.

FOUR: Paragraph format versus bullets.

* scope of responsibility for each employment is what Hiring Managers look for, chronological resumes usually are or should be laid out this way.

* paragraph format is usually hard to read and the reader has to generally figure out what is being said and has to search for what they are looking for, not something they want to take time doing.

* I find that bullets make for a quick and easy read and believe you can never go wrong with a bullet format, particularly for a technical resume; so, I recommend bullets, direct and to the point, they get quick attention and the reader can quickly identify what it is they either are or are not looking for in a background.

FIVE: Pictures, personal information, fancy resume borders.

* although the picture may be pretty and personal information interesting, it is likely that it is not relevant and Hiring Managers really don’t care; they are mostly interested in what you can do for them.

* an exception could be a sales, marketing or some sort of position where a person would have to be in front of others to do business, however, it should not be a qualifier and I would not go there; you can not go wrong by not having picture or personal information on a resume.

* fancy resume borders can not address a candidates qualifications for a job and usually come across as unimpressive; would not do this.

There is more to the resume that gets the attention of the Hiring Manager than I have brought up here. If the resume is not an easy read and does not get attention early in the read, nothing else will probably matter. Aside from these tips I give candidates I always suggest they keep in mind their audience and what the position is they are applying for. The resume should speak to both and attempt to sell the Hiring Manager on setting up an interview. If they do not get to the interview they will not be getting anywhere.

I do not want to imply here that I let the resume do all the talking when I present a candidate to a client. That may work but I believe that is not the best first impression and I do want to make the best first impression I can for my candidate. I do an oral and written presentation of all my candidates. What I am suggesting though is that I help the candidate with suggestions on what constitutes a great resume for presentation and I put the responsibility of a quality resume for me to work with on the candidate. When I do not get a chance to do an oral presentation I find having a quality resume, with presentation, KIS’d as described above, gives me a much greater chance to move my candidate forward to an interview. When the candidate and I KIS with the resume we can more readily expect to KIS our way through to the interview.

Views: 163

Comment by Marianne Adoradio on April 9, 2010 at 11:53am
In the SF Bay Area/Silicon Valley, a majority of hiring managers/companies look at the Functional Resume as a Red Flag.
Comment by Ron Cottick on April 9, 2010 at 12:29pm
Thanks for the comment Marianne. I have a tendancy to agree with that as to me a functional resume can more easily be written to embellish and/or mis-represent the real value of a candidate than the chronological resume.
Comment by Alisa Tazioli on April 9, 2010 at 2:02pm
Speaking for at least part of the 'non-technical' recruiting world, chronological is by far the better and most preferred format. It shows career progression, at the very least, which is one thing I as a recruiter immediately want to understand and is important to my clients. Companies want to see recency as well as depth of experience for specific areas that relate to their need. A resume that cannot identify this is not going to get any attention.
Also agree that the contact info should be in the body of the text and not a separate header/footer. It can get lost too easily in various viewing formats or ATS.
Comment by Ron Cottick on April 9, 2010 at 3:20pm
Thanks for your comment Alisa. Excellent point. There is so much more that could be addressed and written about this and many ways to look at it. My intended point to this BLOG was to point out the proverbial KIS and think about the audience. So many times I see resumes that try to impress and in reality they do more harm than good. I think when the KIS and audience are not taken into serious consideration when writing a resume, the resume will be missing its objective and not getting proper attention.
Comment by Isaac on April 9, 2010 at 5:31pm
Great post Ron,

I have been in recruiting for some time now and even took a short gander at "placement", and more and more i see these "gurus" out there that are trying to "spice" up resumes and all they are doing as far as I see is put their candidates on the bottom of the pile. I have been a proponent of th almighty chronological resume but have been advised against it, so Im glad to see im not the only "crazy" one out there.

As recruiters, we sometimes dont have the time to analyze every intricate detail of a persons c.v. yet, the candidate feels that they are the most qualified because their well put together c.v. says so. Chronological allows us to pin-point the needs of our clients and vice versa. The c.v. that is in functional format in a way I see as form of disrespect to our clients because we then become the time sponges to them.

I have been noticing more and more BOLDED phone numbers and recent irrelevant education, what are your thoughts?
Comment by Karen Swim on April 9, 2010 at 9:19pm
Ron, great post and as someone who writes resumes for candidates I think the take away here is clear - be honest, be clear and know your audience. I actually consult with my clients, look at the jobs/companies of interest and drill down to make sure they can walk the talk. My resumes have gotten high marks from recruiters and employers. The spice of a resume is really in presenting relevant, truthful information, everything else is just the packaging.
Comment by Ron Cottick on April 9, 2010 at 9:31pm
Thanks for you your comment Issac. I agree with you and am glad you share my thoughts on this issue. You have probably heard the term "if you can't dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your BS". I sometimes think there are too many "guru's" out there and have said that for every 10 you ask a quesion of on say resumes you will end up with 10 different answers. And, I would bet that the answer would miss what I think are the two main points of this BLOG, the KIS and the audience.

The objective is a perfect example. When I see a generic objective on a resume I sometimes ask the candidate "as opposed to what?" Fancy bolded this and pictured that is fluff that quite frankly I don't think anyone cares about.

I have worked with many a Hiring Manager. When I worked in Corporate recruiting I was located at the manufacturing facility where all the departments were from HR down to sales, marketing, engineering and manufacturing. I was responsible for all the recruiting for all specialities. I had access to every Hiring Manager in the place. I can tell you that I have never come across a Hiring Manager yet that was impresses with fluff. They don't want it and don't care. Your comment about being unfair to the candidate and disrespectful to the client I agree with. I think that is more to the truth of it and Hiring Managers do appreciate their job being made easier when identifying good talent and getting through the process. That is good customer service and relationship building.

Last comment; I had a manager years ago that told me when I was starting to drift and production showed it that I should get back to the basics and keep my eye on the ball. I think that is still very true today.
Comment by Ron Cottick on April 9, 2010 at 9:39pm
Thanks for the comment Karen. I like your thought process and couldn't agree more. For someone who writes resumes for candidates and with your thought process on how they should look and how it best suits the candidate you look to be at top of your game.

Very refreshing compared to what I usually see. Thanks again.

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