5 Tips for Resumes at Rhiza (and Elsewhere, too!)

The first week of October is Rhiza’s Recruitment Week. As you may have read, Rhiza is a fast-growing software company and we’re looking to continue that growth by hiring some great new people to our team. Rather than releasing balloons and a box of doves, we are going to be releasing valuable information.

I read almost every resume submitted by someone who wants a job at Rhiza. We tend to get them in a steady trickle from recruiters, networking and friends, or get them in floods of hundreds from career fairs. I’ve seen lots of great resumes, laughably terrible resumes and everything in between. I’ve learned a few things that would make life so much easier for the person reading the resume as well as make it more likely to score an interview. It’s mostly practical, easy, simple stuff that might not be obvious because writing a resume is not the same as sorting through stacks of them, but could mean the difference between getting hired and getting tossed in the trash. I mostly have experience with reading and evaluating resumes for technical positions, but I think most of what I have to say will apply to all kinds of job seekers.

1. Don’t email me your resume.

Chances are that I will forget about it before I have a chance to add it to our applicant website. The best way to get into the Rhiza job pipeline is to apply directly through the Rhiza Careers website. I guarantee that every resume submitted through that process will be read by at least one human.

2. Make your resume as easy for the reader to scan as possible.

Keep in mind that almost everyone who will read your resume does not read resumes all day for a living. This time is coming out of the limited amount of time devoted to job duties. The best resumes are the ones that can be read in under a minute. If I have to struggle to read your resume I’m going to doubt your communication skills and am more likely to put you in the REJECT pile.

Imagine the person who is reading your resume. They might be stealing a few seconds from their busy day to look it over, or they might be taking one off of a stack of hundreds from a job fair. They might be tired or bored with reading the same thing. How do you make sure that your resume does not get passed over? You do it by communicating that you are a skilled, smart individual in the clearest, most organized way possible.

So, how do you make sure that happens? Here are some tips:

– Limit yourself to three easy to read fonts. Use nothing that dots i’s with stars.

– Do not use fonts smaller than 10 points. 12 points is better.

– Separate information by type. Make it clear at a glance what your name is, your contact information (ideally at the top of the page), your education, your prior experience, and your skills

– Use bolding and whitespace to make the individual sections clear

– Keep sentences short

– Limit yourself to two pages, ideally front and back of one sheet of paper.

– For goodness sake, if you have more than two pages and you submitted a paper copy please never, never use a paperclip. It’s so easy for the pages to get separated so that we’re only looking at half of a resume.

3. Proofread, proofread, proofread, or get someone to do that for you.

A resume not only communicates what you can do, but also how organized and conscientious you are. Spell things correctly, use good grammar, and use correct punctuation. Many of our staff members are cranky about spaces before commas and missing periods. Simple mistakes can start you at a deficit. You would have to have stellar qualifications to overcome misspelling “Pittsburgh”.

Also, use consistent formatting. Are all of your headings bolded? Does your bulleting system match across your document? Are all of your dates in the same format?

Keep in mind that a resume is not an exam; it is not cheating to ask for help. In fact, if you are a university student there is probably a writing center on campus filled with people who will get paid to help you. Make an appointment and go there even if you think you are perfect at writing. A second, fresh pair of eyes will see things that you can’t.

4. If you submit a paper resume always follow up by applying on our website.

If we met you in person and you gave us a paper copy of your resume chances are that we met at a job fair and had a brief conversation. Usually when a job fair is over I will take all of the paper resumes I received and sort them into piles according to job title and then order them with the best matches on top and then down through the “maybes” and then the “not a good fits”. I’ll take the best matches and then email the applicant saying that we’re interested in interviewing them and then ask them to apply through our careers website. It’s a good way to weed out people who are not really interested in our company enough to bother uploading a digital copy of their resume.

However, if you are in the “maybe” pile, the best way to move to the next level is to preemptively put yourself into our job pipeline. You’re saving me a few minutes of hassle and I love people who do that. Even if I walked away with a thousand resumes that day I will at least give yours a second, careful look.

5. Include an objective statement for job fair resumes.

An objective statement is something like “Objective: to obtain career experience from an internship in software engineering”, or “Objective: to gain an every-level position in technical writing.” For me, the whole point is to be able to sort you into the right bucket. There are going to be very different criteria for evaluating an intern vs. an entry-level worker vs. an experienced worker, and it’s not always obvious by looking at work experience. Don’t make me guess! Treat your resume as a thing entirely self-contained for the reader, and that includes providing clues as to what kind of position you want.