The title to this blog post is a bit of a ruse. There is no ‘perfect résumé’. Perfect is in the eye of the beholder, and you never know who’s going to be reviewing your résumé – recruiters, hiring managers, founders, admins, etc. Aiming for a ‘perfect résumé’ is a lost cause.
Like most recruiters, I’ve read thousands of resumes over my career. Some great, some awful. Some memorable, some not. The key (in my mind) to a great résumé is one that’s laid out in an easy to follow chronological order. A format reviewers can scan vertically from the top, and ascertain in the first 10 seconds whether there is enough relevant experience to review more thoroughly.
Wait, isn’t the résumé dead?
There is a lot of chatter these days about the death of the résumé, that your ‘digital footprint‘ or LinkedIn profile have made your résumé obsolete. This is (for now) a myth. The reality is while there are sufficient tools and platforms out there to allow hiring teams (in many industries) to make early stage viability decisions, most organizations are still managing through hiring apparatuses and workflows designed 5+ years ago, before some of these technologies existed. This is particularly true with large organizations, or those required to have compliance-driven processes. For now, resumes remain a necessity in most job searches.
What about the robots?
There are many blog posts out there advising candidate to load their resumes with keywords to get past keyword scanning tools some organizations have baked into their ATS (applicant tracking system). I personally don’t put a lot of weight into these tools, but there are organizations that do. If you heed this advice, be sure the flow of the résumé is still logical, and doesn’t read as if you’re aiming for keyword density. You might get past the robots, but eventually a human will see and this and may be turned off if it’s an obvious ploy to get past the robot gatekeepers.