10 pieces of expert resume and job interview advice for Illinoisans

Kevin HoffmanReboot Illinois

Jun 26, 2014

On average, a recruiter spends eight to 10 seconds looking at a resume before deciding whether a job seeker is worth his or her time.

The flood of job candidates in today’s sluggish economy has led more employers to utilize executive recruiters, sometimes likened to gatekeepers for hiring companies.


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With that in mind, the importance of crafting a resume that will stand out and entice a recruiter or employer to contact you is essential. Once you’ve received that initial call for a job interview, the rest is up to you.

Founder and partner of Gray Hair Management, Scott Kane, has provided career coaching and networking services for senior professionals and executives since 2000.

Kane spoke with Reboot Illinois regarding ways in which job seekers should write and improve a resume, as well as other helpful job advice that can help you land an interview, or better yet — an offer.

1Highlight your accomplishments

Employers hire candidates who they believe will make them money. Period. Highlighting your past accomplishments is the utmost important component of a resume.

When writing about your previous professional experience, recruiters and hiring mangers don’t care about the specific job responsibilities you had. Focus on your accomplishments that made you valuable to the company and back it up with numbers.

“Generally speaking, those accomplishments have measurable metrics in them,” Kane said. “Whether it’s percentages, dollars, units per hour or cost per unit, every accomplishment should have some kind of metric tied to it.”

2. A summary statement should be to the point

Considering the amount of a time a recruiter spends scanning over a resume, a summary statement or objective should take less than 10 seconds to read. Make sure it’s concise and shows why you’re qualified for the position. This will determine whether a recruiter or hiring manger bothers to look at the rest of the resume.

As for someone with 10-15 years of work experience, there is no reason to include an objective or summary statement.

“They are who they are. Nobody cares what you want to be in five years. Tell me what you do now because that’s what I’m looking for,” said Kane.

3. Styling Tips

If there’s one thing that will scare off any recruiter or hiring manager, it’s too much ink on a page. Like the summary statement, what you write under work experience should be clear and concise. A resume that’s too wordy won’t stand a chance in the eyes of the beholder.

And speaking of eyes, anything smaller than 11-point will be too hard to read. Stick with the basic font styles; your resume should look neat and easy to read — not fancy and pretty.

Depending on the amount of work experience someone has, limiting a resume down to one page may be impossible. It’s completely fine to have a two-page resume if there’s a long list of work history and accomplishments.

Keep in mind the visual hierarchy or inverted pyramid style when writing a resume — the more important information should be at the top.

  1. Summary statement
  2. Professional experience and accomplishments
  3. Education
  4. Any certifications

4. Education is essential

Quite obvious, right? The job market is oversaturated and highly competitive. Typically, recruiters will look at a candidate’s education history before delving into work experience. Without the level of education required by a hiring company, the resume is worthless. Someone with a degree always will have the upper-hand, even if you’re a natural born genius sans a degree. Level of education is what sets candidates apart and gets your foot in the door.

5. Utilize LinkedIn and clean up your social media accounts

LinkedIn has become a crucial professional networking site for job seekers, but an even more important tool for recruiters.

“I would tell you that 99.5 percent of all recruiters will look at your LinkedIn profile before they even call you,” Kane said, according to a recent survey his firm conducted. “Everybody told me they used LinkedIn to not only search for candidates, but to review candidates credentials. So by the time they call you, they already know about you.”

When asked whether those who don’t have a LinkedIn profile are at a disadvantage, Kane opined “they are at a big disadvantage.”

Nearly 70 percent of employers conduct background checks and 47 percent do credit checks, according to recent research by Society for Human Resource Management. Included in background checks, especially at large companies, is a review of an individual’s social media accounts.

“A lot of companies are asking for Facebook logins or [friend requests] as part of employment. I’m really opposed to that, but if you’re concerned about it, then keep your political views off of Facebook because they will check,” noted Kane.

If you’re on the job hunt, make sure there is nothing on any of your social media accounts that could cast you in a negative light.

6. Explaining the gap in work history for the long-term unemployed

The economy has been rough for the long-term unemployed and a gap in work history could be one reason they remain castigated. For those in this boat, you need to show you’ve been incorporating the required skill sets through some other activity — e.g., freelancing, volunteer or contract work, additional schooling or raising a family. If you have nothing to fill in that hole or an explanation for what you did during that time of unemployment, you’ll have a hard time convincing a potential employer or recruiter you’re the one for the job.

“You’ve got have to some activity during that period you’re unemployed that implies or demonstrates that you’re still in the workforce,” explained Kane. “If [job seekers] show in their resume that they performed and had measurable accomplishments, a new employer might take a chance.”


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7. Understand the way hiring mangers think

Job applicants get hired because hiring mangers perceive they will be the solution to a problem, and whether they believe the potential candidate with make or lose them money. Make sure you position yourself as a someone who can achieve the objective.

8. Mesh skills in with accomplishments under work history

You should not have a laundry list of skills at the bottom of your resume. While it’s true recruiters and employers search for certain keywords to find matching skill sets, make sure they mixed in with your accomplishments.

9. The bottom line: companies will hire the candidate they like best

Without being too obsequious, go into an interview with the idea of making friends and having a conversion, rather someone simply looking for a job.

“They must like you. End of story. If they like you enough, they will overlook things that don’t exactly match what they need. The person who gets the job is going to be the most likable,” said Kane.

10. Demonstrate how you’re unique 

“The big question of any candidate is what makes you different and better than the person I’m going to interview after you. And that’s the key. When you answer a question in an interview you would be very wise to have an accomplishment to go with that answer

Make sure your interview tells a story — a successful one — and let your interviewers know that you are a performer.

Scott Kane is founder and partner of Gray Hair Management, a career coaching and networking company helping senior professionals and executives enhance their careers and find new opportunities.

Scott founded Gray Hair Management® in 2000 with the mission to help senior professionals and executives find new opportunities and employment.  Gray Hair Management currently provides professional coaching to managers, directors, vice-presidents and C-level executives to help them win the race for a new opportunity using unique techniques and processes.  In addition, the company sends over 1,500 monthly job leads and networking opportunities to the GHM network, and now has over 6,700 professionals and executives in its worldwide database. 

Using his experiences from helping people get jobs with the Gray Hair Management process, Scott has co-authored the book, Winning the Job Race: Pathways Through Transition, available on the Gray Hair website or on Amazon.com.

Next article: A look at Illinois’ May unemployment numbers


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