General consulting resume recommendations

In our previous article we mentioned that showing the recruiters what they want to see is the best way to pass screening. Recruiters spend 6 seconds evaluating the candidate’s resume, deciding whether to continue reading or not. Bellow you can see two resumes which show recruiter’s eye movements using the heat map technique. This technique allows to see what the HR pays the most attention to in these 6 seconds. Observing the two different resumes we can conclude the following:

Formatting.

Unclear structure and lack of visual hierarchy are the first reasons for the recruiter to put aside your resume and not waste time. Comparing the two resumes, you can see the recruiter loses interest reading the one on the left, while the resume on the right clearly attracts more attention. Let’s see why:

  • Information is hard to find.

In the left heat map example the recruiter simply couldn’t pick a spot where to pause his glance. There is no clear structure. We suggest using templates and outlining important information such as names, dates, sections, skills. Structure is key. Use bullet points instead of paragraphs of written text. The human eye scans in the ‘F’ pattern, reading only the first words of each line. Put the most important information at the beginning of each section and line to catch attention.

  • There is too much text.

In any resume: get to the point. Reading too much text is frustrating. Don’t get in too much detail about your life, this will allow you to fit your resume in one page and get across to the HR.

  • It’s not a 1 page resume.

You can see the resume has only one section – “professional experience”. We can assume all other sections were reflected on other pages. It’s important all key sections are seen straight away, so put them on 1 page. This will allow the recruiter to glance over the resume and evaluate whether he/she is going to read it or not. In the example on the left the recruiter didn’t even get to education or skills, he got bored on the way.

Brands.

Employer or university brand names serve as anchors for the recruiter and provide incentive to read on. You can see in the education section in the right example that the HR looks more at the school name, rather than academic qualifications. Save up brands. Sneak them into your resume to attract the viewer’s eye. If you’re not from a top university, you can win the recruiter over with the brand of the employer, prizes in popular competitions, publications in respected journals, certificates or other educational events with prominent brand names. If your employer is a small firm but you’ve worked with major clients, also specify this. Make sure you state the abbreviation for the brand if applicable. For example, MGIMO is easily recognized by its abbreviation rather than its full name (Moscow State University of International Relations).

Achievements and numbers.

You can see in the professional experience area a large concentration of red dots. Those are most likely quantitative data, reflecting results of candidates’ work. Evaluate your work in figures. If this is not done automatically and you don’t know how much profit you brought to your company, try to provide at least some concept of the scale of your work to the recruiter. At least provide a before/after comparison.

Try to avoid description of routine duties which are an implied hard skill and come with every specific functionality. Also, don’t forget about your personal role. Candidates often state results which were in fact achieved by the whole team. If you don’t clarify your role and specific duties, the recruiter might think that you either didn’t have a role or don’t appreciate other people’s work. Another disadvantage of not knowing your role is passing off as lacking initiative. Words such as ‘participated’, ‘attended’ do not make a good impression. Try to make every experience valuable and play your role wisely, otherwise this experience will be useless for you and your resume.

In parallel with the resume, you should start writing your cover letter. Your cover letter should consist of three paragraphs answering:

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