In April, TheLadders sponsored the annual Career Thought Leaders Conference & Symposium at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Baltimore. The city’s iconic Inner Harbor provided the perfect backdrop for more than 100 of the top minds in resume writing, career coaching, and job-search consulting to share key knowledge about how to help job seekers win by constructing arguably the most critical weapon in their arsenal: the resume.
The funny thing about a resume is that every candidate knows they need one, yet few understand or are willing to acknowledge its tremendous influence. A resume isn’t just a list of your previous employers to be haphazardly submitted to every recruiter and job portal available – it’s a highly sophisticated tool that leverages the power of words to create perception and target you for the perfect opportunity. And it’s not easy to write!
Just like any other aspect of doing business, you get out of your resume only what you invest. The amount of time and (the conference’s attendees would hope) money you spend on your job search directly correlates to your success. We frequently hear elated job seekers on TheLadders gushing about how overjoyed they are with their professionally written resumes. “Who is that person?” and, “I never realized I did all that!” are common refrains that illustrate a newfound confidence. So why do candidates understand the importance of the resume only after having it evaluated and written by a qualified professional? They don’t have the data.
So what can an analytical, numbers-obsessed guy like me do to help a group of card-carrying wordsmiths understand how best to present that value? Share statistics, of course.
I was honored to partner with event co-host Wendy Enelow (a training consultant for all of TheLadders’ Executive Resume Writers who is widely recognized as the national thought leader in resume writing) to deliver the conference’s keynote address, “The State of the Union: What Recruiters and Hiring Managers Want.” My speech provoked some buzz (and some tweets) thanks to eyebrow-raising stats gathered in a survey of recruiters who use TheLadders to source talent.
According to the data, 43% of recruiters declaring that a weak resume is a job seeker’s biggest mistake, and they know one when they see one – recruiters receive an average of 52 resumes per $100K+ job listing. That’s 52 resumes from Monster, 52 resumes from Dice, 52 resumes from CareerBuilder, and on down the line, for any one job. I explained that only 21% of all resumes are considered “Very Good” by recruiters, and that those resumes garner 50% more recruiter contacts than their average or below average counterparts.
Of course, recruiters aren’t the only gatekeeper between candidates and their next job. There is now applicant tracking software that scans resumes for keyword matches before they move through the ranks of agency recruiters, corporate recruiters, HR managers, and hiring managers. Those hiring professionals are increasingly selecting candidates based on first impressions, as a remarkable 68% of US companies have no standardized definition of a quality hire.
How do you combat that? With a quality resume. Our analysts at TheLadders have reviewed and critiqued more than 575,000 of executive resumes, and our staff of writers (many of whom were among the thought leaders assembled in Baltimore) has rewritten more than 60,000 of them. Those resumes typically earn a score of around 4 on our 10-point scale before they are rewritten, but leap to an 8 or better after a professional rewrite.
So what does it all mean? Judging by the conference attendees’ frantic note-taking, it means that executive candidates must be reminded that it’s not enough to rely on your ability to sell yourself. A weak resume fails to differentiate you from your equally qualified peers, and simply believing that your resume accurately represents your value doesn’t make it so. Recruiters want those Grade-A resumes that score an 8 or higher, and sure enough, they perform much better. The increased confidence that comes with a professionally written resume is statistically proven to be accompanied by increased performance, and increased engagement from recruiters and hiring managers.
Ware Sykes is Vice President Consumer Services and Head of Resume Services at TheLadders.com