Q. I’m really confused. I keep hearing about applicant tracking systems that electronically pick out keywords from your resume and discard your resume if the keywords are not there. Then I hear about hiring managers spending 10 seconds reading the first third of a resume. So should the first third of my resume be a list of all the possible keywords that could get me a job?
A. A short list of your key areas of expertise is fine in the first third of your resume but most of those keywords should appear in the bullet points that describe your chief accomplishments. For example, suppose a keyword—one that appears in the job posting—is “home improvement sales.” One of your bullet points might state: “Captured $300,000 in home improvement sales during first year.” You should never sacrifice readable contact for overwhelming lists of keywords.
Q. I’m concerned about the ethics of having someone else write my resume. Do recruiters and hiring managers reject resumes that are clearly not written by the applicant?
A. Unless you are applying for a job as a resume writer, feel free to hire someone to write your resume. In fact, my customers include successful hiring managers, C-level executives, Vice Presidents and Directors looking for new challenges. You are probably expert in your field; that does not make you an expert writer or familiar enough with applicant tracking systems to write a suitable resume. So take advantage of my expertise.
Q. Some of the companies I work with no longer exist; some have multiple locations; and some merged with other companies. How do I give accurate location information?
A. These days hiring managers and recruiters do not expect a full address for a company; it is sufficient to give the town and state where you worked even if the company itself is no longer there or has multiple other locations. If you yourself worked in several of those locations, you should mention that in your job description or accomplishment bullets (for example, “sent to rescue failing stores in New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia”). When a company mergers with another, it is best to give both company names: ABC Company (formerly EFG Company). Be sure to mention if you survived a merger to work for the new company—that is a sign of your value.