Bias in the Job Search – Avoiding Triggers in Your Resume

Last week, we had an awesome webinar on the topic of bias in the job search, focusing on things that you as a jobseeker can do in order to avoid falling victim to the biases (conscious and unconscious) of a hiring manager, recruiter, or HR person.  Thank you everyone for the great feedback – we are so glad that you enjoyed it.  For those of you who weren’t able to attend, the recording is available in our webinar archive – but, here are some quick tips to help you fortify your resume so that you can get to more interviews!

  1. – Cut down on the amount of personal information you’re giving away

I know, I know – your resume is your marketing piece.  It’s where you put your best foot forward and give your potential employer the opportunity to get to know the *real* you, right?  Well, sort of.  Your resume is absolutely your strongest marketing piece for your job search – however, it is also rife with opportunities to count you out of a job based on triggers.  Avoid putting too much personal information in the resume.  Certain things are just not necessary in order to have a strong document, and they can hurt you more than they help you.  Some things to avoid including are:  your address, graduation dates, photos, and specific years of experience (if you have more than 10-15 years, that is).  You want an employer to look at your whole document, and not get hung up on one little thing – so the best thing to do is simply eliminate those things when and where you can.

  1. – Always have a clear, specific headline

Back in the old days (meaning, 10 years ago or so), we used to use an objective statement for every resume.  This was an easy way to customize your resume for specific employers, and a clear way to communicate what your professional goal was.  Unfortunately, including an objective statement on your resume today is a sure fire way to get passed over, because it immediately ages you (even if you’re a 20-something or 30-something) and makes you seem out of touch.  Instead, we opt for Professional Summaries that give the reader an idea of who we are and what we are about, rather than simply what we want.

The problem, though, is that sometimes we become a bit too lofty with our professional summaries, and not everyone has the time to read them.  One of the best things that you can do on your resume is create a “headline” (think, LinkedIn) immediately below your name (you know, where that address used to be), so that the reader knows who you are and what you do right off the bat.  Remember that the average recruiter spends less than 20 seconds reading through a resume before making a decision on whether or not to recommend you for next steps – it is your job to connect the dots and make it as easy as possible for them to see who you are and what you offer, so that they feel comfortable going forward with you as a candidate.

  1. – Master the AI aspect

Artificial intelligence, including those awful applicant tracking systems (aka, the resume robots) are here to stay.  Instead of railing against them and bemoaning their use, learn to make them work for you.  With regard to your resume, ATS are trained to do one thing:  use your skills and keywords to match the best candidate with the requisition from the company.  In order to be chosen as the best candidate, you need to speak the ATS’ language.  Use a wordcloud generator, or a tool like Jobscan.co to figure out how the ATS is reading your resume, and adjust it so that you are highlighting the same keywords, skills, and attributes that the computer is designed to look for.  This will help you get an interview, and from there, you can land the job.

Bonus:  Understanding the technology of today’s job search demonstrates awareness and ability to learn new things, which is always a plus for mature jobseekers, or those who have been out of the market for a while.

We hope that these tips will help you as you begin crafting your bias-proof resume.  As always, if you would like some one on one advice from one of our career consultants in the Office of Alumni Career Management, we are more than happy to assist you, either in person or virtually.

Have a great day, and Go Bucks!