Baseball analyst and stats genius Nate Silver is in a hiring mood.
Silver took to Twitter over the weekend to dole out some unsolicited but highly appreciated advice on the key to writing an effective job application: Keep it simple, stupid.
Most important resume/cover letter tip: avoid clutter. Make it EASY to figure out who you are, what you do, what makes you a good fit.
— Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) January 11, 2014
Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog, formerly of the New York Times and now relaunched as a standalone brand under ESPN’s umbrella, recently posted several job openings for its data visualisation team, and it’s clear Silver has been reviewing some of the applications himself.
His advice for job seekers is spot on: according to research conducted by TheLadders, recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume before they make an initial decision on applicants. Don’t make it any harder for yourself by making them search for what makes you a strong candidate. Here are some simple and effective ways to declutter your resume.
Lead with an executive summary.
An executive summary is basically your elevator pitch in approximately three to five lines that clearly enumerates your qualifications, what you’re passionate about, and why your experience is valuable to your targeted employer.
Center the headings.
Recruiters’ eyes are drawn to the headers and then move down the center of the page, according to Amanda Augustine, a career expert at TheLadders. “This includes your professional title, and the headers for your professional experience and professional development sections.”
Use consistent formatting.
Consistency is the name of the game on a resume. If you abbreviate dates for one section, abbreviate them for the next section. Your job is to make your information as easily digestible and aesthetically pleasing as possible. Don’t give a recruiter any reason to get hung up on small, visually incongruent details that might distract him or her from what you’re actually saying.
Use bullet points and avoid dense paragraphs.
Recruiters have to wade through dozens of applications at a time, so make it as easy as possible for them to understand why you’re perfect for the job. Dense blocks of text are too difficult to read and will likely be skipped entirely. Use bullets and simple, clear statements to make your qualifications and experience stand out, even to a reviewer who only has six seconds to figure out what you’re about.
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