Basic Facts of Jobsearching: Writing a Resume that Employers will Read

If your plan on getting landing a gig involves spraying and praying, then you’ll need way more than good luck. Better yet, you’ll need a resume that kicks ass and gets read. Sell yourself in 6 seconds, because these days, that’s all the time an employer will spend reviewing it.

Why only 6 seconds? How did it come to this?

We all had those friends from university who thought that getting a job was just a basic numbers game. Spamming out their resume to as many companies as possible?

Well, they completely ruined job hunting for all of us, way to go friends from school…

Thanks to them, most job postings receive hundreds of sh** applications. Most of these applications will be from people who aren’t even remotely qualified for the job.

The upshot is that no human being will end up looking at a majority of resumes submitted. That’s why 90% of large companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to manage submitted resumes.  And the resumes that recruiters do look at will have to pass the ATS before receiving a mere 6 seconds of attention.

“We’ll keep your resume on file.”

 joker fire

Want to know what happens when you upload your lovely resume to a website and click the apply button?

  1. Your resume gets saved to the employer’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
  2. The ATS searches through your resume for specific keywords that the recruiter in charge of filling the position has prioritized.
  3. If your resume doesn’t have enough of the right keywords, the ATS archives your resume, never to be read by humans.
  4. If your resume does have enough of the right keywords, the ATS will lined it up to be reviewed by a human.
  5. A recruiter will eventually fire up the ATS and start storming through their queue of resumes. ALERT! This is tedious work.
  6. This is where your resume gets its 6 seconds to sell you. If your resume strikes the recruiter as a likely fit for the position, they will reach out to you for an interview.

Sounds like you’ll be facing a few barriers to that interview along the way. Luckily the team at has created a dynamite tool to help you optimize your resume content. If you’re unsure about your resume formatting pop on over to Rezi Instant to use the new Rezi ATS Optimized Resume Generator – the fastest, easiest way to make a ATS Optimized Resume

Your foot in the door

LinkedIn is not your resume. GitHub is not your resume. Your CodePen pens and Dribbble shots are not your resume. Your resume is your resume. And you’ll be in good shape if your resume looks like this:

Your resume is the CliffsNotes to your working life. It’s an opportunity to pack your most important accomplishments into a single  document.

Your resume has to convince recruiters that you’re worth investigating further.

Make the most of your 6 seconds

How many words can a human even read in 6 seconds? Not many. So you’d better be brief.

aziz resume


Only use one page.

It goes almost goes without saying that your résumé should only be one page long. If yours is going on two pages you’ll have to adjust formatting mechanics or trim that text.

Don’t include a photo.

Researchers have conducted experiments where they asked recruiters to wear special glasses that tracked their eyes while they reviewed résumés.

If you put a photo on your resume — like the Elon Musk résumé above — recruiters will look at it, often for several seconds. And this makes sense. The human eye is drawn to faces.

But adding a photo to your resume won’t increase the amount of time recruiters spend on your resume. They’ll just spend more of that time staring at your face, and less of it reading about your qualifications. AND it makes it significantly harder for ATS to parse your resume.

Typos kill.

Make sure your resume doesn’t have any typos. Not even oen.

73% of executives surveyed said they would rule out someone who had more than one typo on their resume — and 40% wouldn’t even consider a candidate whose resume had a single typo.

The best way to catch typos is to read your resume backward or aloud.

Just kidding. It’s “one”

Use keywords carefully.

It’s vital that you have the right keywords on your resume — otherwise you will never make it past the ATS keyword filters. Hello

Read the job description carefully and pattern your own use of keywords after the employer’s. This will maximize your resume’s likelihood of actually getting reviewed by a human recruiter.

But unlike LinkedIn — where random strangers blithely endorse you for skills you didn’t even say you had — every skill you put on your resume is game for scrutiny. so If you wouldn’t be comfortable walking up to a blank whiteboard and explaining a technology or using it to solve a problem, don’t mention it on your resume.

Be brief.

For each relevant job, write the following:

  • The name of the company, and if they aren’t widely known, a basic description of what the company does
  • Your job title dates of employment, location
  • Around three accomplishments

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.39.12 PM

Most companies will weigh your work experience much more heavily than your education, so keep your education section as brief as possible. Put it at the bottom of the page, and only list your high school if you did not attend college. If you’re still in university, an education section at the top is the norm.

If you attended college, but didn’t finish, list the schools you attended. If you had a GPA above 3.0, you can add that reassure recruiters that you didn’t flunk out.

For each post-secondary degree you’ve earned, include the university, your degree and major, and the year you graduated.

Explain your gaps honestly.

If you have respectable reasons for gaps in your resume, be sure to point them out. A single sentence fragment with dates will do.

Most humans can empathize with leaving your job to start a business, raise kids, or care for a sick relative.

If you don’t explain your gaps, recruiters may assume the worst.

Don’t waste time customizing a cover letter.

Most recruiters see cover letters as unnecessary for technical positions. They are smart enough to realize that cover letters basically just restate your resume bullet points — usually couched in frivolous adjectives and adverbs.

You should include a cover letter if the company asks for one. But since it’s unlikely to ever be read, you shouldn’t waste time customizing it to every company.

Don’t waste space stating the obvious.

If recruiters agree on one thing, it’s that objective statements are unnecessary.

What job did you apply for? Full stack developer? Then your objective is obviously to work for their company as a full stack developer.

If you’re applying for a modern knowledge worker job, recruiters will assume that you know how to type, use Microsoft Office, and have “references available upon request.”

Give your resume a meaningful file name.

Since your resume will live in an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), you’ll want to make sure your file name is meaningful.

You can imagine how many files there must be in these ATS systems (and on the recruiter’s desktop) named “resume.pdf”. Don’t be one of these generic, hard to find files.

Give your résumé a descriptive filename. For example: “Charles_Bloomberg_Resume.pdf”

You gotta do what you gotta do.

Resumes aren’t going away any time soon.

Writing an effective resume— then customizing it for every single job you apply to — takes a lot of time and energy. But it is critical to the job search.

The best way to avoid dropping your resume into an ATS abyss is to make a personal connection with a recruiter. Remember — these are trained professionals whose job it is to go out and find people worth hiring. They will be at job fairs, after-hours networking events, even random happy hours downtown. And they’re pretty easy to find on LinkedIn, too.

Regardless of how you reach recruiters, put in the time to make sure your resume does a good job selling you. Be factual and respectful of recruiters’ time. This will set you up for success in the interviewing process to come.

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