We interviewed 8,000 people last year in over 20 offices around the world. We’re sharing our behind-the-scenes insights with you in our new #careeradvice series!
In this series, we’re featuring our global Talent team and spilling their secrets on job hunting–– from the best way to apply for a job and what to put on your LinkedIn profile to how to nail the perfect interview. This second post reveals the most effective ways for getting your resume noticed anywhere, including how to market yourself well even before you apply for a job.
I’ve built my whole career on reviewing resumes. Starting as an intern in HR and staffing in college, I joined MuleSoft as a sourcer full time after graduation. Sourcers spend the majority of their time discovering the best potential talent for an organization—whether that’s finding candidates externally or reviewing applications and passing them through to a recruiter. I’ve since worked as a recruiter and now lead executive recruiting and sourcing operations. In my time at MuleSoft, I’ve had exposure to every part of the business, from Engineering, Product Management, and Marketing to Finance, Sales, and Field roles.
In my years reviewing resumes across various team and every level of experience, there are clear and consistent elements candidates I’ve hired had in common on their resumes. No matter what job you’re applying for, make sure you do these five things first, and I guarantee you’ll get a higher response rate on your applications.
1. Get your formatting right
Anyone should be able to pull the most important information from your resume in 3 minutes or less
In my time at MuleSoft, I’ve seen the number of applications we receive grow to the tens of thousands in one month alone. That’s a lot of resumes to look through! Most companies are committed to reviewing every resume that comes their way, and at MuleSoft, we even have a strict SLA to ensure that we get back to every applicant as quickly as possible. That means that recruiters really don’t have a ton of time. By helping recruiters find what they need to know you’re an all-star candidate—and doing it efficiently—you will not only get your foot in the door, but also set yourself up for success by giving the recruiter a positive first impression.
A good looking resume has clear and consistent formatting: no more than 2 fonts and font sizes, text that doesn’t bleed out all the way to the edge, and a layout that directs the eye to the most important parts of your resume. When writing your resume, keep the following questions top of mind:
- What are the most important aspects of my experience that I want someone to remember?
- What’s the quickest way I can get someone to find those things on my resume?
I’ve seen a lot of what recruiters call “chunky resumes.” These resumes have inconsistent blocks of text and whitespace, run on sentences without results or impact, and poor organization. When you look at a chunky resume, you’re immediately overwhelmed and feel like you need to be a detective to figure out whether this person has the skills necessary to do the job. This is not a good way to start off your relationship with a new company.
Instead, take the extra time to pare down your experience to concise, pithy descriptions, using bullet points instead of paragraphs. Remove unnecessary words and ensure that spelling and grammar are correct. Finally, organize your resume in a way that highlights your most important achievements. If you won an award or were promoted, don’t bury these facts in a sea of descriptive language. Put them at the forefront and let your outcomes speak for themselves.
2. Focus on impact
Don’t tell us what you did—tell us what results you drove
Too often, people think they have to provide every detail about the work they did in a previous role in order to look qualified for a new one. The truth is, a recruiter will already know the nuts and bolts of responsibilities for the roles you’ve had in that field.
Writing a resume with a lens for impact is the best indicator of what you’ll be like when you join the company you’re interviewing for. The way we find this is by seeing quantifiable metrics and clear KPIs that separate you from other people. Start by looking at every job listed on your resume and ask yourself, What are the two most significant achievements I had in each role? Then, write out the bullet points under each role with those achievements as the outcomes everything else is driving to.
A good formula is the STAR method: What was the “situation” or problem you were solving, what was the “task” at hand, what “actions” did you take to solve it, and, most importantly, what were the “results” that came from the work you did. Don’t overthink it—results can be anything, from cost savings and efficiency gains to increases in revenue and gains in new strategic accounts. Just make sure you illustrate impact to the reader.
Keep in mind that focusing on impact is also a helpful method for when you’re looking at a career change; in other words, you’re applying for a job that’s not in line with your past experience. Recruiters want to see that you bring smart, creative solutions to big problems that drive measurable impact on the business. Providing metrics, as well as context, for your past experiences helps us not only understand your trajectory but also how it compares to the role you’re applying for. Here’s an example, if you’re in education:
- Basic role description: Published author
- Impact-oriented role description: Published 17 articles in one year
- Impact-oriented with context for a new industry: Exceeded standard qualification for tenure by 15%, by publishing 17 articles in 3 peer-reviewed journals in one year
Metrics show impact, trajectory, and competency. Don’t submit another resume without them!
3. Differentiate your resume and LinkedIn profile
They’re both important, but they serve different purposes in your job search
One of the biggest missed opportunities I see is that people mistake their LinkedIn profile as just another home for their resume. I’ve reviewed “resumes” that are simply a person’s LinkedIn profile downloaded as a PDF—do not do this! While both should highlight your biggest accomplishments and what makes you unique, they have entirely different purposes (see how to optimize each one in tips #4 and #5).
Your LinkedIn profile is the brand you want to build for yourself out in the market. This is where you highlight broadly the things that make you unique as an individual, as an employee, and as a career-driven professional. A person who has a succinct headline, a profile picture, and shares content they care about on a regular basis will stand out much more than a person who puts the bare minimum information about their work. Have you attended any conferences? What are your certifications? What organizations do you volunteer for? These all make you who you are, and at top companies today, they hire for people who are going to add to their culture, not just fill an open job slot. Your LinkedIn profile gives people a sense of your personality and interests as they relate to your career.
Your resume is your professional pedigree that showcases how you’re a fit for the role you’re applying for. You send your resume to a company because you are specifically interested in an opportunity there. You’re answering a call for a particular profile, and your resume is the direct answer to that call. Therefore it should be unique to each new application.
4. Don’t save up using LinkedIn for when you’re looking for a job
Take the time to build your personal brand and keep your profile up to date
If you haven’t been on LinkedIn in a while, you may log in and see a bunch of unread messages from recruiters in your inbox. LinkedIn is where recruiters and sourcers typically end up when they scour the web for great talent. There are many incredible companies (like MuleSoft!) that are hiring a lot nowadays. Those companies are constantly searching for the most eligible and qualified candidates to join their company and add to their culture.
Recruiters rely on keyword searches to surface profiles of people who might be a great fit for their open roles. Going back to the idea of focusing on impact, think about the biggest achievements you’d want to highlight and make sure you include them in your LinkedIn profile. For instance, if you want a leadership role, you should include statements like “led and drove X project from strategy to execution” or “spearheaded X project to drive Y results.” Think about selling yourself in your current and previous roles, and framing your profile for the role you want to have next.
5. Target your resume to each role and company
Your resume shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all
Companies put out a job description for a reason. If they didn’t care about the profile of the best candidate, they’d simply post the job title and minimum requirements. At MuleSoft, we go a step further and lay out what you should expect to have accomplished in 3 and 12 months. The job description is chock-full of clues for how to structure and message your experience on your resume. Does the job you’re applying for say you need to have built a program in 3 months? Show how you’ve accomplished something similar in an equivalent timeframe.
Building off of tip number 3, your resume is a living document that should be molded and targeted to each new role you apply for. Your resume should not only be easily consumable and impact-oriented, but speak directly to what the company is looking for in that particular role to stand out.
Let’s say you’re a marketer. The skillset you need to be in product marketing is much different from the skillset you should have as a content marketer. Make sure it’s clear from your resume in which direction you want to go!
Finally, don’t be afraid of exhibiting confidence in your resume when applying for a job outside your past experience. A strong track record of achievement and linear thinking transcend any industry. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get the job; sometimes, a job really does need a core set of competencies that only come from experience. However, your resume might just market you well enough to get the attention of a great company that has the perfect job fit that you might not have ever imagined for yourself.
Keep following our #careeradvice series for a blog post about how to make your resume stand out! Want to interview with this team? Take a look at our Careers site and explore over 200 open positions across 24 departments!