I read a lot of resumes. For every 20-30 resumes I read we will interview one candidate, for every 10 candidates I will hire 1 person. This isn’t unusual for a tech company, that also means that your odds of getting a job dramatically increase if you can get past the resume stage.

  1. If you’re applying for a job, do your homework
    I can spot copy/paste cover letters from a mile away. I don’t expect you to customize your resume for every job but at least write a couple sentences about why you think you’d be a good fit. Great resumes jump off the page because the candidate knows more about us than we know about them.
  2. Your resume doesn’t need to be longer then one page
    Your resume doesn’t have to list everything you’ve done. It has to convince me that  you know what you’re doing. The best resumes have a concise list of objective, achievements, goals, education and past roles.  Resumes that extend beyond one page tend to list details that are generally not necessary.  The resume is supposed to start the conversation and get you the interview, it doesn’t have to answer every question.
  3. Tell me what you do and why you’re great
    A lot of resume tip sites tell you to pepper your resume with keywords. I suppose this helps recruiters plow through mountains of resumes but companies under 1000 people will likely skim every resume that comes in. That means it’s more important to communicate your potential fit than to communicate the keywords. Read your resume out loud. Does it sound good?
  4. Be found online 
    The first thing I do after skimming your resume is Googling your name, your LinkedIn, your code on GitHub,  your website, etc.  The footprint you leave should be out on the internet. If your saying that you’re a “Ninja” I’ll be looking for the black belt trophies.  If you’re a graphic designer I’ll be looking on Dribbble for your best work. If you’re a musician I want to hear your music.
  5. Show don’t tell
    If you can show you know something it’s much better then claiming you do.  “I’m experienced at Ruby on Rails” vs. “I’ve launched three projects using Ruby on Rails, link, link, link.” If you can demonstrate expertise it’s going to set you apart.  
  6. Personal Touch
    If you can get noticed it can help you rise above the crowd. Often meeting at social or casual networking events can give you a sense of company fit.  If you’re targeting a company and chatting with someone face-to-face your chances of getting through the resume filter dramatically increase.  Twitter is a great way to start a casual conversation and get visibility with the right people.
  7. Make it easy to read
    Easy to read font, pdf or word format. Don’t get too creative here. I don’t care what template you use as long as I can read it and it’s easy to read.  If it’s simple it’ll open on an iPad and I’m happy.  Spellcheck your resume, those red squiggly lines are important.
  8. Focus helps
    I was speaking to a woman who had been trying to get a job for 8 months. She had tried everything and applied everywhere.  She was getting frustrated that she would send out resumes and when she would get interviews they wouldn’t go her way. I asked her, “What’s your dream job?” She explained how she would love to apply her tech skills to helping children in hospitals. When I asked her if she had spent any time researching such companies in the Boston area it occurred to her that she had been chasing a job, rather then chasing her dream job.  I ran into her several months later, she had focused her efforts and identified 5 ideal companies, targeted them and got hired. The focus helped her find the ideal companies and it helped the companies identify her.