Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: inside scoop

All posts in the Talent Development Centre, written by recruiters, with an inside look at Eagle and other staffing agencies.

How to Stand Out as an IT Consultant in Toronto

Sam Rahbar By Sam Rahbar,
National Training Manager at Eagle

How to Stand Out as an IT Consultant in TorontoThe world of IT consulting is a very competitive one. New certifications, tools, technologies and versions pop up weekly. As an independent consultant, you have one eye on the next enticing gig and the other on the next technology/version that you need to upgrade to. Most projects are running on aggressive deadlines, leaving you with minimal time to focus on your personal/professional development.

It is even more competitive in a city like Toronto (one of world’s Best Places to Live) where, in addition to the existing talent pool, there is a constant flow of talent that is migrating from elsewhere, integrating into the workforce.

It is not hard to pick Toronto as a destination to live. From an industry standpoint it is diverse — banks and financial institutions, telecommunication, health care, consulting firms, software development shops and startups — Toronto has it all!

Add “somewhat” affordable (at least when compared to Vancouver, Seattle and San Fran) cost of living and makes Toronto a dream destination for IT consultants.

University grads are another source of talent that populate the market — UofT, Waterloo, and UBC are perfect examples of winning Computer Science programs that pump out graduates who are ready to join the workforce. Consulting firms love campus recruiting and for good reasons. Talent is not only skilled but driven, ambitious and cost effective. Colleges are not far behind. Humber, Seneca and George Brown College have all been contributing to the tech talent scene in the city for years with shorter, focused programs.

It is populated and it is competitive, so how can you stand out as a job seeker in Toronto? What do clients and hiring managers want to know? Where do you start? Here is a quick guide on how to separate yourself from the other IT contractors looking for work in Toronto. There are two major platforms to highlight your expertise in your field

Enhance Your Public Profile to Stand Out in Your Job Search

There are opportunities everywhere to enhance your public profile, including LinkedIn, your Resume, GitHub, and Stack Overflow.

  • Details, details, details:Your resume needs to be less than 2 pages” does not apply to IT consulting resumes. In the IT recruitment industry, the entire game revolves around keywords and Boolean searches, so hiding details is only a disservice to yourself! If you have working experience with a tool/technology, make sure it is on your resume. Make sure you are findable.
  • How you saved time and/or $$: AKA “music to hiring managers’ ears“. Under each project, add a bullet that gets into more detail on how you brought more than just your skills to the role — how you went above and beyond by recommending solutions that saved the client time and money. (If that is the case of course!)
  • Fluff: Get rid of fluff! Each job you apply to is different so tailor your resume to what the client is looking for. Everyone is an “Excellent Team Player”, right?! Recruiters spend an average of only 8-10 seconds reviewing resumes before making a decision. Make sure your resume speaks to the role you apply to.

How IT Consultants Can Stand Out in Meetings

Every interview you go into is an opportunity to stand out above your competition.

  • Build connections/network: Before selling your skills, your first goal should be to “connect” with the interviewers. Hiring Managers/HR give preference to people who they like to work with, or someone they get along with.
  • Listen carefully: Make sure you understand what is asked. This is the most common mistake interviewees make in interview. Either too excited or nervous you might hear a word or two that trigger you to make assumptions. Instead, let the questions finish, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts and proceed to answering.
  • Structure your answers: Always approach your answers like a story. Paint a background and provide context. Explaining When/Where/Why and the outcome.
  • How you saved time and/or $$: I cannot stress how important this is. It is your chance to shine and your time to stand above the rest of the pack.
  • Smile: Leave all your troubles, stress and worries for another time. Interviewing should be a positive experience.

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

How to Prepare for a Job InterviewMaking it to the interview stage in the job search process is exciting and stressful at the same time. It means you’ve been shortlisted and the chances of you getting the job have increased; however, a blown interview destroys those chances together.

Remember when you are invited for an interview, the client already thinks you have the right qualifications for the job based on your resume. You need prepare properly so you can demonstrate these qualifications in the interview and back-up what’s in your resume. Here are a few simple ways you can prepare and significantly increase your chances of winning that job.

Before a Job Interview or Phone screen

  • Research the company’s website and find out useful company information. Extend that search to social media and investigate LinkedIn profiles, especially of the person who is interviewing you. Glassdoor may also reveal company’s specific interview process. Understand the company’s mission and try to find a way to work your knowledge of it into your responses.
  • Prepare questions in advance to discuss during or at the end of the interview. We always want to impress a recruiter or a hiring manager so prepare questions that demonstrate your knowledge and interest the company. Since you have already been looking into the company and looking on the LinkedIn profile of the hiring manager you can start by saying, “I did some research on the company and saw that you have worked at this company for <# OF YEARS>. What is your favorite thing about the company? How did your role evolve? This gives you a chance to build a rapport with the interviewer and the company.
  • Prepare a few interesting facts that you learned about the company through your research. Perhaps the company has won some awards that are important to you or their top-line company objectives/goals. Are they active in the community? What is their company story? Be prepared to discuss these facts if you are asked what you know about the company.
  • Convey in all of your answers how you were successful in your previous jobs. To do this you must provide concrete examples of how you succeeded. Instead of saying, “I was often told I was the one project manager that saved the company money” you could say, “I was able to decrease the budget by 20% saving the company $2M over the first 6 months of the project.”
  • Remember, quite often, a hiring manager will hire someone with the likeability factor. If there are 2 technically strong candidates in the running, the candidate that demonstrated a higher likability factor will likely be the candidate to get the job. They are always looking for someone who is the right FIT for the role. You need to connect with the interviewer. You can do this by being confident and try to interact as if you are already working together. Smile often, avoid any nervous gestures (easier said than done), maintain eye contact and actively listen to the interviewer. The key is that you don’t get too comfortable but be natural and try to have a great conversation by being yourself.
  • Show enthusiasm. Show them that you really want this role. Give them examples of why you are excited for this role. For example, “I am so excited about this role because it give me exposure to working within an AGILE environment and I want to put my SCRUM certification to good use.”

Other Interview Tips

In addition to these preparation tips, always remember these basic interview skills that will ensure you appear professional:

  • Dress for success – strong presentation
  • Always give a firm handshake
  • Make consistent eye contact
  • Make sure you answers are concise and thoughtful, but always relevant to the questions asked (don’t go off track, stay focused).

After you have completed the interview it is always imperative to follow up with a Thank You email. This allows to you maintain interaction with the interviewer, provide any additional information and reiterate your interest/excitement in the role. Check out this helpful link for some additional tips on writing the “Job Interview Thank You Email”.

9 Questions Independent Contractors Should Ask All Recruiters

Sam Rahbar By Sam Rahbar,
National Training Manager at Eagle

9 Questions Independent Contractors Should Ask All RecruitersAs an IT contractor/consultant, your relationships with IT recruiters can have a major impact on your job search journey. Especially since contractors are being distanced from the hiring managers and clients due to the introduction of MSPs (Managed Services Provider) & VMSs (Vendor Management Systems).

The days of working directly for an enterprise client and billing them directly are almost vanished. Your best and safest option is to go through an approved vendor.  As you might have already experienced, agencies (approved vendor or not) come in all shapes and sizes and unfortunately, not all operate under the same ethical guidelines. It is your responsibility to make sure that your best interest is a priority with your recruiter and agency of choice.

Just like recruiters ask questions to vet you, you need to do the same the first time you deal with each agency to make sure that they are ethical and trustworthy. Below is a list a list of questions that will help you find out more about an agency before working with them.

Where did you find my profile?

If you haven’t heard of that recruiter/agency before and/or if you don’t have your resume posted online, you’ll want find out how your contact info is surfaced.

This question could help with positioning your experience better; by knowing what they have seen/read so far. It also helps you find out which platform (Monster/LinkedIn/GitHub/..) gives you the most visibility.

What’s your specialty? (industry/vertical within IT or contract vs fulltime)

Tech space for be confusing and frustrating, especially for a non-technical person. When it comes to your career, you want to make sure that you are trusting recruiters who understand the domain (at least from a high level). A non-technical recruiter won’t be able to explain the client environment and what technologies are must-have vs nice-to-have and why.

Is this call regarding a job opportunity or just a status update?

This will help you market yourself more efficiently, whether it is for a specific role or for a general status update. Based on the nature of the call, do you want to take it now or later?

What is your history with this client/hiring manager? How long have you been working with them?

You want to be working with recruiters/agencies who know the clients and have a successful history, because they know the in’s and out’s of the client environment and hiring process. This can maximize your chances of getting the job by minimizing the surprises at the interview stage.

Are you the only one working on this role?

You want to know the competition. If the recruiter/agency you are working with has an “exclusive” order, this means:

  1. a) They have a really good relationship with the client
  2. b) They can tell you exactly what the competition landscape looks like.

What is the hiring process? Are there interview times booked?

Does the recruiter/agency know what to expect? Or are they just phishing for a resume to open doors with? If the timelines are set and clear, do they work for you?

How long has the job been open?

Sometimes the client is not sure what they are looking for and they use the interview process as a way to make up their mind. Or they have an internal candidate and they just want to make sure they are making the right choice. A job that has been open for more than 2 months is a red flag!

What is the full package? How flexible is the client?

Clients often look to save money by advertising the role with a lower rate than they’re willing to pay. If you genuinely feel your market rate is above the rate mentioned, it would not hurt to ask how flexible the client is willing to be.

What is next?

Always make sure that you are clear about the agency’s processes and next steps as it pertains to you. Are they sending your resume? When should you expect an answer? Can you talk to other recruiters in the same firm? What if you wanted to apply to a different job at the same client that they are sending your resume to?

Your conversations with recruiters should not be one way, it should be a dialogue in which you qualify their client list and their job opportunities and they qualify your skills and “fit” factor.

So, next time to talk to a recruiter for the first time, make sure to take an extra 2 minutes and ask questions so you can get to know them right at the get-go and avoid any time wasting down the line.

Job Seekers: It’s Time to Get Social!

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

In this competitive market, recruiters know that independent contractors are on the go and don’t always have time to speak with them on the phone or read large emails containing job specs.  In the technical savvy world we live in, social media is something that we ALL use.  With more and more millennials hitting the job market, recruiters are aware of how they find their information.  Sure, most people check their email and texts first thing in the morning but the vast majority of us check Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram as part of our daily routine… over and over and over again.

While recruiters are always trying to broaden their network and be in contact with their independent contractors, contractors can take a look at this infographic from Betterteam and find ways to make communication on the go in a more reliable and time saving way.  Yes, this is an infographic that is geared towards recruiters, but this is something that contractors should be aware of — recruiters like technology too!

Speak with your recruiters about how to share information through social media accounts.  For example, with recruiters whom you have built trust, give them your twitter handle so that they can send you a direct message with a link to the job description.  If you trust your recruiter to know your resume and your particulars when looking for a role, this is an easy way of cutting through the fat and communicate on the go. Here are a few additional tips to leverage social media:

  1. Use skype or periscope to talk with your recruiters about the roles that are coming across their desk.
  2. In your LinkedIn profile, add a description of the role you are looking for with some key skills that make you stand out from the crowd.
  3. Include career and job-related hashtags that directly relate to the roles you are looking to pursue.
  4. Add photos or quick stories on Instagram about your past experiences at companies that you have worked with to show how engaging you are when at work or the interesting projects that you have been a part of.

Work with your recruiter on these steps; afterall, they are doing it too.  Add them to Instagram, share twitter handles and LinkedIn profiles. Above all, get SOCIAL!

Can Social Recruiting Work for Your Office Space?

How Did a Recruiter Find Me When I Never Applied to Their Job?

How Did a Recruiter Find Me When I Never Applied to Their Job?

We hear this question occasionally from IT contractors — “How did you get my email or phone number when I’ve never created a profile with your staffing agency?” Some technology professionals may let a recruiter know they’re happy in their current full-time job and others may jump at the opportunity for an upcoming project, but all who ask the question are curious as to the methods a recruiter has taken when seeking new, fresh technology talent.

First, let us put your mind at ease, while recruiters are resourceful, they’re not spying on you, buying lists, or doing anything else considered unethical to get your contact information. They use various tools and techniques when filling a client’s job opening and if you happen to be a good fit for the position, your name is sure to appear at some point during their research.

Here are some things you may be doing that are helping recruiters find you:

You have a detailed LinkedIn Profile

It should not come as a surprise to you that technology recruiters seek out top talent on LinkedIn. If you have an up-to-date, detailed profile, including project descriptions and recommendations, your chances of receiving connection requests from recruiters are raised. When your email address and/or phone number are made public in the contacts section, anybody can access them to connect with you that way. You can request not to be contacted by email, either directly on your profile or with a polite response to the first message you receive from somebody. The ethical recruiters will always respect your wishes.

You uploaded your resume somewhere online

Major job boards sell access to their database to recruiters, both in staffing agencies and private companies. When you apply to any job or create a profile with them, you’ve also opened yourself up to receiving phone calls and emails about new opportunities. Again, depending on your current situation, this can either be a benefit to your job search or a bit annoying. You usually have the option to disallow your resume to be shared, but remember to return and change those settings when your job search continues.

You participated in an online forum

Many knowledgeable technology professionals, especially developers, participate in online forums on websites like Stack Overflow, GitHub and Quora. IT contractors active in these places are often the type of quality people recruiters want working on their projects so, naturally, they keep an eye on these websites. Even if your profile does not include your contact information, when a recruiter sees that you are skilled, they will seek you out on LinkedIn or a job board so they can learn more about your professional interests.

You did good work somewhere else

The old fashioned, non-internet word-of-mouth! It’s difficult for a great IT contractor to stay under the radar. When you do exceptional work for a client, your manager or other technology professionals on your team will be quick to recommend you when asked by a recruiter. It’s a fact that the best contractors rarely search for work at all — the opportunities come to them!

You did create a profile, you just don’t remember

As the old saying goes: “Never say never.” Sure you never applied to a recruiter’s job… in the past few years, but what about 5 years ago? Or 10 years ago? Staffing agencies keep their database of candidates and their resumes for a long time and recruiters may review people who they haven’t heard from in some time. They’ll understand that your resume needs updating; however, they’ll also anticipate where you may be in your career today and take the opportunity to check-in and see how things are going.

Keep in mind that a recruiter only contacts you if they believe you could be a good fit for one of their clients and that the position is a good fit for you too. They don’t want to waste your time, and also have no interest wasting their own time with an uninterested candidate. If you’re not seeking new opportunities, politely let them know and you can both move on. Otherwise, take a few minutes to learn about their recruitment agency and its clients — it may be the next best thing for your career!

The Key Differences Between Contract and Permanent Resumes

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The Key Differences Between Contract and Permanent ResumesYour resume is one of your best marketing tools.  In addition to a great social media profile, your resume is the primary tool used to get you through the door for an interview, affording you valuable face-to-face time to ultimately sell yourself to a potential employer.

Candidates often ask how their resumes should differ if they are targeting permanent vs contract employment.  In many cases there would be significant differences, and we strongly recommend having more than one CV if candidates are genuinely interested in both permanent and contract work.

For consulting opportunities, clients are generally focused on a candidate’s ability to come in, hit the ground running and successfully deliver on a very specific mandate.  Consulting resumes are often longer and more detailed, particularly when consultants are bidding on public sector work.  In these cases, clients require very detailed information to clearly show that a consultant’s experience fits their mandatory requirements.  Clients are typically seeking someone who has ‘been there, done that’ as there is little ramp up and training time afforded in the contract world.

For permanent employment opportunities, clients are trying to gauge a candidate’s overall fit for not only the role, but the organization as well.  It is, therefore, not only essential to focus on past achievements and quantifying details on how you have benefited your previous employers and added value to the organization, but also to provide some insight into your work ethic, leadership style and ultimately your personality.

To offer an example, a Project Manager’s consulting resume should always have details provided for key projects including budget, team size, initiative and the outcome (was the project completed on time, under budget).  It’s also important to list specific dates as clients are particularly interested in frequency and duration of contracts.  For a Project Manager’s permanent resume, it would be more important to keep the resume concise and to capture the reader’s interest — but also to show how you can provide value to the organization beyond just leading projects.  It might make sense to provide more of an overall synopsis of achievements but offer an addendum of projects that can be provided on request.

There are many free tools and templates available today, so be sure to do ample research and ensure that your resume is keeping ‘up with the times’.   Is it time for you to revamp your resume(s)?

Things Recruiters Love to Ask and Hate to Hear

The best place to seek interview advice is directly from those who conduct them each day. As such, in order to bring you the some fresh information and an interesting perspective, we asked our recruiters a few questions about interviews. Rather than looking for the standard advice, we dug a bit deeper to help independent contractors understand recruiters’ unique methods and experiences that form the interview.

Things Recruiters Ask…

Things Recruiters Love to Ask and Hate to HearFirst, we asked recruiters for some of their favourite questions to get a candidate to think outside-the-box. Here are some of the top interview questions for IT contractors:

  • How did you save money, make money, or change a business process that did both in your past job?
  • What is your Achilles heel?
  • What have you brought to the “Project Management” field from your Bachelor Degree in Arts History, Education?
  • What is the one thing that people misunderstand about you?
  • What sets you apart from your peers?
  • Tell me about your biggest failure and how it made you successful in your career?

Things Recruiters Hear — the Little White Lies…

Next, we set out to learn about some of the fibs they hear most often, and where they tend to be most skeptical about candidates. They pointed out that junior candidates tend to be the bigger culprits, and that is occurs less in the IT industry than others. Regardless, these are the most common little white lies that recruiters hear (though some they didn’t learn were lies until it was too late):

  • “I left on good terms.” “We had a parting of ways.” — This can be seen as code for “something was brewing, and I was fired/I quit”
  • When asked about weaknesses, most candidates give a canned (bogus!) answer.
  • “All my projects are on-time, on-budget and to scope.”
  • Over-exaggerating responsibilities
  • Experience with a specific technology
  • Yes, i am very interested in this role
  • Current salary
  • Why they are looking

…And the Other Stories

Finally, if you want to understand why some recruiters question you or seem like they have little trust, remember that they have seen and heard a lot. Here’s what recruiters say are the more extreme lies they’ve been told:

  • “The candidate said they worked at a company where they have never worked.” (These things are easy to verify and destroy your reputation.)
  • “A candidate with a fake resume – entirely fake – showed up for a face-to-face interview with me hoping I’d pass him along to a client.”
  • “That the candidate had relocated for a role, when in fact they were commuting 3 hours EACH WAY every single day for a contract…. you can’t hide that kind of exhaustion from a client.”
  • “A candidate said they couldn’t make the interview because someone stole their car (…it was a lie)”
  • “They couldn’t make the interview as they were “sick” but I later found out they were in another province and didn’t want to tell me.”

Understanding a person, their background, and what influences who they are is a tactic sales people often use to persuade a client into buying their product. The same is true for IT contractors looking to sell their skills to a recruiter. Hopefully this brief insight into a recruiter’s mind gives you one more tactic during your next interview.

Contracting in a Competitive Market

Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The contracting space is getting more and more competitive.  As organizations demand more from their contractors and more candidates enter the workspace, one needs to know how to stand out from the rest.

Contracting in a Competitive Market

Media and Social Media are Your friend

 

To stand out in a competitive market, you need to self-promote.  Social media and repositories like GitHub are the perfect place to display your work with like-minded individuals.  Promoting your work on social media or places like GitHub allow you to speak and display your work wherever you are, whether that be a meeting with a recruiter or in an interview with a client.  You’ll seem more prepared, invested and motivated in the project that you are applying for because you believe in your skills/abilities and you want to showcase them.

Invest in relationships and network

Referrals are becoming more and more beneficial to contract workers.  Positive recommendations from others in your field go a long way in getting calls from recruiters and getting you further along in the process.  The more people you know in your field (i.e.: Program Managers, fellow developers at other organizations etc.) the easier it is to get a foot in the door.  Take time to foster relationships from your past contracts and make sure to attend networking events. Know what projects organizations are working on before you attend these sessions so that you can speak to individuals about them and show off your knowledge and interest.  Never burn bridges and work harder in the last week of your contract then you did in the first!  If there is no extension, make sure to leave a last impression.

Certifications and Continuing Education

Certifications are mentioned on almost every job description that a recruiter sees.  Most of the time, these certifications are in the nice to have section.  Nowadays, anything in the nice to have section is code for “these will make you more competitive”!  Contracting can be hard work and breaks after 6 month or 12 month contracts can seem like the perfect time to take a vacation.  During breaks between contracts, you need to be aware of how to effectively fill that time.  Breaks for R&R are totally necessary but as a contractor in an ever changing market you need to have time to build new skills and show that you were productive during larger gaps between contracts.  Taking courses or getting certifications during breaks shows that you continue to self-improve and want to become more competitive for that next role.

Money Isn’t Everything

It is easy to say YES or NO to a role solely based on pay rate.  Recruiters understand that you have bills to pay and deserve a fair rate for your skills and abilities.  In a competitive market like today, you need to weigh your options.  If a role is paying you less than the last, ask youself the following:

  • Will this be a role where I can broaden my skills and expand my network?
  • Is this a role with a new organization/company that I have not yet had the chance to work in that will open doors in the future?
  • Will this role keep me in the tech space and engage me?

The key is not to short-change yourself but also understanding that the benefits to contracting is not always financial but to improve your own professional development.

How do you remain competitive in today’s contracting market?

From Standard to Stand-Out

Brianne Risley By Brianne Risley,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

Turning “Good” Interview Responses into “Great” Ones

From Standard to Stand-Out -- Turning "Good" Interview Responses into "Great" OnesAs a professional recruiter, I am often struck by how many job seekers answer common interview questions in the exact same way.  Technically, there is nothing wrong with giving an “OK” answer that 4 out of every 5 people will give.  It’s safe.  But for the job you WANT, your response to every question should help you Stand-Out and offer the hiring manager a taste of your ‘unique value proposition’.

Here’s an example of a common question that you can turn from a Standard response into one that Stands-Out!

The Situation: You are asked by the Hiring Manger to describe your experience with a tool / skill you do not have.  How do you tackle this?

The Standard Response: “It’s not hard… I can learn it.”

Consider this:

  • “I can learn it” is a nice sentiment, but you’re asking the hiring manager to essentially ‘take your word for it’ with no facts, figures, or scenarios to provide them context. “Trust me” isn’t a strong value proposition.  Give the hiring manager a map of how you’ve handled a similar challenge in the past and come out on top!
  • The skill is clearly a pain-point, or the hiring manager wouldn’t be asking about it. Sometime, somewhere, this manager had a bad experience with someone lacking this skill.  A Stand-Out response will acknowledge the skill as an important one, and offer a ‘sell-message’ outlining your past success learning new skills.

How does this help you stand out from other candidates who can also ‘learn it’, or worse, those that “have” it!  Here is a better way!

The Stand-Out Response: “I can see why that is important to you.  I haven’t yet had the opportunity to work with that exact version; however, as an Analyst at XYZ Company, I was faced with learning a similar tool with very little ramp-up time.  I reviewed training on my own time, collaborated with co-workers, and attended industry events to come up-to-speed and producing with the tool within 4 weeks.  Before leaving that company, I even had the opportunity to train new users on it.  Would that approach work in your environment, Ms. Hiring Manager?”

Here’s the framework:

  • Acknowledge the need is an important one
  • Provide a specific time and place where you learned/used a very similar skillset
  • Outline how you used your own initiative to learn it
  • Outline the success you had in learning it
  • Get the hiring manager’s acknowledgement that your approach would work in their environment.

That’s a response that a Hiring Manager can take to their boss or HR to argue in favor of hiring YOU over someone who has the skill.

Do you have an interview question that you’d like a recruiter’s perspective on?  Add a comment – we would love to take your response from “standard” to “stand-out”!

The Myth of the ‘2 Page Resume’

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

We often have candidates tell us that they received advice from others (often outplacement agencies) to pare their resume back to fit into a 2 page format.  While this is possible for some to accomplish, it can pose a challenge for people who are several years in to their career and have many experiences and successes to highlight. The Myth of the ‘2 Page Resume’

We recommend keeping a resume as clean, clear and concise as possible but don’t mind seeing a 3 or 4 page resume, particularly for someone with over 15 years of experience.

It is well known that most recruiters or hiring managers will spend 5-10 seconds reviewing a resume to determine if a candidate is worthy of further exploration. Once you capture someone’s attention it is important to have enough details to further substantiate your fit for an opportunity.  The following are a few key tips to ensure that your resume makes it past the ‘5 second scan’.

  • Keep it chronological rather than functional. Highlighting your overall skills in a functional format is frustrating for anyone reading your resume.  They must spend time figuring out where in your employment experience each functional area ties back to.  If you have a great skill or success but it is from your first job out of school 20 years ago, it may not be considered marketable.
  • Avoid lengthy intros/bio summaries. Your ‘intro’ statement should be no more than 2 sentences, and should be very concise.  Paint a picture for the reader that summarizes your history, highlights and career goals in a very streamlined manner.  An example might be:  A global Program Manager with 20+ years of experience successfully managing highly complex, enterprise wide transformational initiatives.  Seeking a challenging opportunity with an industry leader that will afford me opportunities for growth.
  • Forget the long list of skills at the beginning of the resume. Anyone and everyone can mention ‘Hard Working, Great Time Management Skills, Team Player, Conscientious’.  Focus on highlighting quantifiable achievements rather than a vague listing of skills that simply take up valuable space.
  • Focus on successes/achievements rather than highlighting ‘day to day’ core activities. Every bullet point that you list should be impactful and highlight a success, achievement or initiative that you undertook.  Use words like ‘Successfully, Spearheaded, Exceeded, Efficiently Created, Fostered’, etc.  then finish the sentence with what positive result you achieved from the initiative.
  • No paragraphs, ever.  A bullet point should be less than 2 lines, and should not contain more than one sentence.  If you are using a paragraph format, the reader will lose interest very quickly and you likely won’t make it past 3 seconds!
  • Keep a reasonable font. It is not a great achievement if you manage to get your resume to 2 pages by reducing the font size to 5.  Use a professional font that is easy to read and as a general rule, never use a font below 10.

Ask your recruiter for feedback on your resume, and take their advice.  A resume should be a constant work in progress and should be ever evolving as your career progresses.

For insight into the differences between a typical contractor vs permanent employee resume, stay tuned for my next post!