Your Résumé/CV Is Your First Impression, Write it Wisely

By Brent Bates
- Public Domain -
– Public Domain –

It is common knowledge that the process of applying for jobs can be frustrating and discouraging. However, many people tend to make it make it even worse by spending their time focusing on the wrong approach. Think quality of the job’s match to your background qualifications instead of quantity of jobs applied for.

As a Technical Sourcing Recruiter for IBM Global Business Services, I see hundreds of résumés per week, and sometimes per day. Some are better than others and some leave me completely baffled as to why the person is applying to the job, as described. Anyone would be surprised at how many applications come through with résumés that show absolutely zero to little relevance to the job description posted, let alone actually meeting all of the minimum requirements. Please realize that simply submitting a résumé/CV randomly to a dozen jobs at the same company does not buy 12 opportunities for a chance to win one. Only the best fitting and most qualified candidates are selected for next steps. The job requirements are determined by sound business reasons to ensure that the individual selected for hire will be successful and represent the brand well to the clients’ satisfaction.

Here are 2 important tips to consider when writing a résumé/CV and applying for a job:

1) Customize Résumé/CV To Targeted Job – Take the time to carefully read the job description to determine if that particular role would be a good fit and career move for you. If you are not sure, or have questions, get connected with an IBM Recruiter on social media so they can point you in the right direction. Then, customize your résumé/CV to highlight your most relevant qualifications and clearly show that you meet the requirements listed right away, within the first half page, and then apply with your targeted résumé/CV. If the recruiter or hiring manager has to dig through your résumé/CV to find what they are looking for, it shows them right away that you are just looking for any job, not their job. Now, if you were making a hiring decision to select the best candidate to fill your business needs, would you take a risk on someone that might work out, or choose one of the other candidates that clearly demonstrates their interest and prior success in a similar role?

2) Get Inside Information about what the company and that particular business group or department values most. What is their business strategy in that practice? What challenges are they trying to overcome? What opportunities are they trying to capitalize on? Act as a consultant to show how you can fix their pain-points, based on your expertise, skills, and prior experiences. For example, in a recent IBMer interview blog post, Nancy Kopp-Hensley responded, when asked what she looks for when adding technical talent to her group, “The first thing I look for is a passion for data.”

Now, if you’re a job seeker that has a passion for data, make it evident within the beginning of your résumé/CV! Try to think of a quick, yet tangible, example to include demonstrating your passion for data and it’s analytical applications. Maybe, describe an idea that you came up with on a project that added value for the client, data-related patents you’ve received, or provide a hyperlink to your personal blog that proves your expertise as a thought leader in data. The possibilities are endless, so take the extra time to highlight the attributes about your background that will appeal most to the hiring manager and recruiter, within your résumé/CV, to really catch their attention.

This advice should drastically help increase the effectiveness of your job search, making it a lot more exciting and enjoyable. Please leave a comment below describing what would excite you most about working for IBM.


Brent_BatesBrent Bates is currently a Technical Sourcing Recruiter for IBM GBS (Global Business Services) in the USA. As a seasoned Recruiter and HR professional, his scope of hiring experience spans across a wide range of industries, professions, and career levels, globally. If you’d like to receive updates on Brent’s current hiring needs, please feel free to connect on social media by clicking on these links: LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

To learn more about jobs at IBM, visit our IBM employment webpage

3 thoughts

  1. A1) Great questions and example scenario, Bruce! I would suggest creating 3 base versions of your resume, one for each career path, so whichever job you are applying towards, the resume will be focused and relevant. Of course, the work history should be all inclusive for each, but should be more detailed for the jobs/roles that were relevant and more summarized for the less relevant jobs. Additionally, I would recommend some type of section near the top to the effect of “Highlighted Qualifications,” which can be used as a bullet-point list to show how your qualifications exactly meet or exceed the listed job requirements. That section would require just a little customization for each job you apply for, and the rest of your resume/CV would already be focused and relevant. Since I am unsure which country you are writing from, I cannot say this with 100% confidence, but it should be a pretty universally safe guideline to follow, and is definitely the new trend within North America and Australia.

    Customizing the resume is better than writing a cover letter for 1 simple reason. Most recruiters no longer even read cover letters, in fact, some ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) automatically cut off the cover letter from the resume. Studies have shown that recruiters spend only 5-10 seconds reviewing your resume to determine whether you are qualified for the job or not, and I can attest to that personally. If the required skills are not mentioned at all in the resume or only once over 8 years ago, you’ll likely be rejected. Cover letters can still be appropriate for certain types of roles (entry level, career changers, maybe sales/marketing, or if requested in the job posting), and may be helpful, but it’s a much better use of your time to make it blatantly obvious that you meet the minimum requirements and are a well-qualified potential fit for the job, near the top of the resume. These days, with the current job market across most the world, recruiters have a pile of resumes to dig through and most applicants are not qualified, yet apply anyways, hoping the employer will get desperate and lower their standards. When that situation happens that the unqualified applicant wished for, the hiring team has to create a completely new job requisition with lower requirements and will need to start fresh, so their original application will not be considered anyways.

    A2) In regards to getting inside information, I’m not referring to that of the confidential nature, only public information. Focus on networking, build relationships with industry experts, pick their brain about upcoming trends in new technology, participate in related discussions within LinkedIn groups or trade associations, etc. The internet is a goldmine of insight with industry expert blogs, articles, news stories, industry/business outlook reports, company financial statements, comparative analyses, etc. For example, it has been publicly announced that IBM plans to focus heavily on growing business in cloud, big data & analytics, and cognitive computing (Watson). Those would be smart areas to learn more about and to start networking within.

  2. Thank you for providing a “Recruiter” perspective on qualifying candidates!
    I have a few questions on the provided tips:

    1) You support the idea of customizing the resume vs providing a customized cover letter with your real/uncustomized resume. For example, a candidate has database administration, software development, and technical writing skills gained through different roles in the past with different companies. Two questions here:
    – When this candidate applies for a software development job, it might be easy to customize the resume to highlight the related experience when was working as a software developer, but it’s difficult to highlight that within the experience of a technical writer. How would you customize the resume in this case?
    – Why is customizing the resume better than writing a cover letter relating to the experiences the employer is seeking (and attaching the resume of course)? This is related to the previous question, where you’d be able to focus on relevant experience in the cover letter, while still including the real resume.

    2) In the second tip, getting inside information, it’s very difficult unless you know someone in the inside, otherwise no one would provide you any of those information, that would probably considered confidential. If you don’t know anyone in the company or the group you’re applying to work with, how can you get this kind of information?

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