According to a recent study using eye-scan tracking technology on recruiter behavior,recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds scanning a resume. And it can even be a shorte. Some recruiters surveyed spent an average of six seconds before making their initial “fit/no fit” determination. Applicants getting the fit determination got the additional 1.4 seconds before the recruiter made their final decision for the person to move to the next step of the hiring process or not.
What did most recruiters look for in the brief time they spent on a resume? As it turns out 80% of their review time was spent looking at basic information including:
- Current title and company
- Previous title(s) and company(ies)
- Start and end dates of previous positions
- Desired position or an end goal from the Summary, Objective or Value Proposition
- Security clearance (if required for the position)
Consequently, because of its importance, most of this information should be “above the fold” – on the first page without the need to scroll down and in an easy-to-read format.
Relating Information to a Job
Based on the above information, it is imperative the following information in a resume aligns with the job being applied for:
- Prior work in the same industry
- Recognizable civilian-equivalent job titles
- Matching or related experience in civilianize language
- Little to no gaps in employment
As a veteran here are suggestions as to how to address each of the above items:
work in the same industry
If coming from a job that is basically the same in the military as it is in the civilian world, then it is easy. For example, most computer or computer-related jobs are the same regardless of where performed.
However, when the relationship is not as apparent, then be sure to tie your military work to the applicable civilian industry in language a recruiter will understand. And that can be different depending on the industry.
If applying to work in the defense or aerospace industry for a company that has experience hiring veterans, their recruiters may be more familiar with military lingo and acronyms than an industry not having that experience. When in doubt, civilianize.
Recognizable civilian-equivalent job titles
Some job titles will transfer over to the civilian world with little explanation needed; others will need to be interpreted. There are online tools such as the Military Crosswalk at O*NET ONLINE that can help put a military job title into civilian language.
Matching or related experience in civilianize language
Veterans come out of the military with a whole host of “soft” skills that employers love to see in an applicant’s resume, such as leadership, attention-to-detail, accountability and several others. And if the position requires a security clearance at the level you had when in the military, and it is still valid, make sure to note it as this can save a company a lot of time and money by hiring you instead of somebody without a clearance. In the end, make sure to relate applicable military skills and experience to the position and in language a recruiter can understand.
Little to no gaps in employment
Most veterans stay in the same basic field throughout their military career, so this is less of an issue then it is in the civilian world. However, if there is a significant break between when you got out and are now applying for a job, highlight the reason for the break. It could be as simple as you went back to school first. And while the education portion of your resume would show that break, make it easy for the recruiter to make the connection by explaining it upfront.
And Finally…beat the bots
None of this will matter if your resume never makes it to a pair of human eyes in the first place. To get past automated screening, be sure to intersperse industry-specific keywords throughout your resume. To find what the scanning software is programmed to find, look for job-related words used frequently throughout the job posting and use these same words in your resume.
You don’t have much time to make your first impression, so make the most of it in your next resume.