Applying to jobs is a numbers game. If you play the numbers game, you are likely to win. In this ELEVATE session, Tal Flanchraych (CEO & Founder of ApplyAll) lays out the statistics about job applications. Her bulk-apply AI applies you to hundreds of relevant jobs to supercharge your job search, whether you’re looking to work at a startup or big tech company.
In this talk, Tal Flanchraych discusses five tips for supercharging your resume to increase your chances of getting more interviews. Overall, the goal is to make your resume stand out within the first five seconds and make it effortless for recruiters to say yes to your application.
Thanks so much, Angie. I am so excited to be here as a long, long time supporter of Girl Geek X, but since times of the essence, I’ll get started. So this talk is all about supercharging your resume, five tips to get more interviews. It is not about having the perfect resume, it’s about getting a resume that will get readers and recruiters to say yes after scanning it for just five to 10 seconds, which is oftentimes all you get. And in 2023 that looks a bit different. So I will tell you a bit about myself for context and then dive in. So Angie already mentioned a bit about my background. One fun fact, I was actually laid off from Indeed this year and that’s how I started ApplyAll believe it or not. I literally got laid off from a job board. Try sugarcoating that one on a resume.
And one thing I want to share is that a lot of these resume tips are actually backed by data we have from ApplyAll on real resume outcomes from hundreds of our tech job seekers. We’re seeing who’s getting interviews and who’s not, and looking at their resumes to see what do they do that’s getting them that, yes from recruiters to get a phone screen. So let’s start with some real talk, which is that your 2020 approach won’t cut it in 2023. And it’s not just because 300,000 job seekers have been laid off. That’s one of the reasons of course. But what it means is that beyond just more competition for each role, it’s really changed how recruiters do their job. And to truly understand how to approach your resume in 2023, you first have to put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes and understand how they’re looking at your resume in the first place.
So your resume in 2020. As I was a hiring manager in 2020 and helped build our startups recruiting team and we’d be lucky if we got even 20 or 30 half qualified applicants for a role. So as a recruiter, you’re screening the three that look superficially qualified and maybe two others that are interesting but have less traditional backgrounds, maybe could be good candidates in a different way, but really the pickings were often slim because a lot of the best candidates were sitting around waiting for recruiters to hit them up on LinkedIn. And oftentimes you would just pray that the hiring manager likes at least one or two of these people because it’s so hard to get good candidates. And so having a good enough resume is often enough to get you the role. And also resumes were read much more carefully.
However, in 2023 rather than 30 applicants, you might have 2000. And after you filter down to the 500 superficially qualified ones by matching against titles and keywords, you’re just trying to survive as an overwhelmed recruiter. So you’re scanning the first 50 resumes for five to 10 seconds each. See what’s their most recent experience, does it seem at first glance, within 10 seconds does it seemed relevant. Let’s flag the top ones and take a closer look in order to select the finalists. But only 10 to 20 resumes may actually get that close read to get to do that last pass and decide who gets the phone screen. As for the other 450, the truth is they’re either put aside or declined. It’s bad luck. Oftentimes one’s resume may just not be at the top of the pile and it might not be seen.
So what does that mean? My goal in saying this is not to discourage you, it’s about giving you the perspective that the recruiter has. So you know that you need to stand out not within the first 30 seconds, but within the first five seconds and help them check the boxes they care about at first glance without making them think or look hard. And what this enables you to do is increase your luck surface area. So while luck is a huge aspect of the job search in 2023 when there’s so many talented qualified people, it doesn’t mean you can’t create your own luck. Increasing your luck surface area means giving yourself more opportunities to get lucky. Whether it’s exhausting your network by speaking to every human being you’ve met professionally, applying to 500 jobs. But it also increases your luck surface area to make it a no-brainer for anyone to say yes to your resume after a quick scan if you’re qualified for that role. So let’s dive into the tips and how you can increase your luck surface area by making it effortless to say yes to your resume.
So the first tip, and this is the thing that I see wrong with the most number of resumes, is making relevance clear by providing critical context. So when I see something like this and it’s a company I’ve never heard of, all I can think is I have no clue how relevant your experience is to my role. Is this a medical device company? Is it a SaaS platform? Is it a children’s toy company? Is it a startup with 10 people or is it a multinational corporation? How do I know whether you’ve been in environments that look similar to my own and similar to that in my role, are you familiar with our business model? Right now, this is a real customer resume, by the way. I just have no idea.
But look at it now. Now I don’t need to Google aware to try to find out what it is. Oh, it’s an early stage AI SaaS startup with 100 employees and this candidate owned an $8 million book of business in a sales role, including four Fortune 50 companies, which means that he’s worked with large enterprise at a small startup. So if I’m hiring at a startup, suddenly this experience is looking a lot more relevant to me because it means this customer probably knows how to operate in low structure, high ambiguity, fast-paced entrepreneurial environments. Oftentimes candidates will remove context in order to keep things vague to keep their options open. But the truth is trying to be everything to everyone makes you an obviously great fit for no one. No one will give you a chance in this market if you leave them to wonder, they’ll just decline you and find someone whose experience is obviously relevant for what they’re looking for.
So what this means for you is for each of your roles, add one to two sentences to provide context for the reader, especially for companies or products that they may not be familiar with. Even if you work at Google, what division and product did you work in? What is the business model of that product? Because that may influence how much you can hit the ground running at this new role. And also remove friction for viewers to learn more about your experience. If they are compelled by this, they may want to learn more. Don’t make them Google it. These small kindnesses like giving them a link they can click on, make it effortless for them to learn more about you and make it effortless for them to say yes. And it doesn’t mean you necessarily even have to write a huge paragraph about what you did.
So for example, if I’m recruiting for an early stage healthcare startup, my dream PM may be someone who has that early stage PM experience in a consumer health company. So if I see this person’s resume, I can just by reading this first line, which is what six words about what this product is and the stage it’s at, I immediately know that this person’s experience is intriguing to me. And just their first bullet, which says that they’re the first PM hired says a lot about them, that they’ve spent a long time working closely with founders in that entrepreneurial environment and was able to successfully launch a product that I can look up myself if I want to see if this is credible. You don’t necessarily need to write paragraphs to give context. This is a very short resume section, but for a relevant company, this is going to be extremely compelling.
And also knowing what the business model was. In this case, a marketplace makes it very obvious that this candidate as a product manager is probably familiar with the metrics and KPIs we’re going to care about and how to measure them. So next one is supercharging one’s promotions. We haven’t all been promoted, but those of us that have really need to stop burying the lead. People do not make their promotions obvious. Being promoted is one of the things that can make you look most desirable. And so you want to flex that as much as humanly possible. So if you look on the left here, you’ll see that this person has two roles on their resume. However, by repeating the company name twice, that’s Definitive Healthcare in red, it’s not obvious at first glance it’s the same company and the person’s been promoted. Use hierarchy, visual hierarchy to make it crystal clear that you’ve had multiple roles in the same company.
So look on the right, for example. By having the company name further to the left and a very different font and the two titles underneath with the dates near them, it becomes obvious at first glance that this person has had multiple roles in the same company, thus has a longer tenure there and has also been promoted. So they must’ve been perceived as a high performer, which makes them more desirable. So this next one is about supercharging your status signals by prominently name-dropping. This applies more to people who have worked at any sort of name brand company or even a startup that a recruiter may have heard the name of a few times. The truth is, brands carry a certain amount of status or authority whether we like it or not, whether we think it’s justified or not, because people perceive brands a certain way.
Think of your own stereotypes when you hear that someone works at Google or OpenAI or even just a hip startup that you know is growing quickly but don’t happen to know much about. You might be more intrigued. Most people would assume that you might be more competent at your job if you’re able to get higher there. Again, whether or not this is true, these biases are real and recruiters share them. So if you’ve worked at a name brand company, make sure that name is high up on your resume, bold it, underline it, make it impossible to miss. You want the first thing someone notices on your resume is that you’ve worked at a company that they are familiar with, if this is true.
So these two resumes are from the same customer. You’ll notice that on the left, well, it’s hard to know what to notice at all. There’s so much going on. And when a recruiter looks at your resume, the first thing they look at is your most recent role to see how relevant and compelling it is to them. And the one on the left, it’s very hard to tell where the first recent role even is. And you have to look all the way down to the bottom half of the first page to see that this person was in a sales role at Oracle, which is a very respectable company, very prestigious in the sales field, but it’s hard to notice that. Whereas on the right this resume that actually has gotten this user and this candidate interviews Oracle, being underlined and higher up on the page is one of the first things that pops when you first glance at this resume.
So be sure that anytime you’ve worked at, whether it’s a big name company or a startup that they may have heard in passing, don’t make it hard to find because it creates a halo effect that may really work well to your advantage. All right, so this is another big one, which is supercharging your credibility using stories and specifics, not buzzwords. You’re competing with hundreds of people who are also using ChatGPT to write their resumes. And the thing with buzzwords is that it’s hard to turn them into believable stories about what you’re capable of and what you bring to the table.
So let me give you an example. When a recruiter or hiring manager reads something like this, they think, why should I believe anything that ChatGPT wrote about you? This looks like it was just copied and pasted from some template for 2000s resumes. It’s extremely generic and provides no evidence that you’re capable of doing these things. I frankly am just not going to buy it. Even if you throw in metrics. Everyone at this point has read the articles about stuffing every bullet with metrics and they oftentimes look and read, forced and made up.
Real impact isn’t always easy to quantify in a tidy way. And we all know that oftentimes these things can be hard to measure. And if you don’t provide specifics as to what you’ve actually done, what relatable problems you faced to get to these metrics, I’m going to have a hard time believing that this is actually true and you didn’t just make up these numbers. So to give you an example of something that shows impact with a story and specifics, look at this person’s resume. This is someone who worked in government but actually got interviews for for-profit startups. If you look at the bottom two bullets, you suddenly read something and you’re like, this was unexpected. Wow. 80% of the team quit and she had to accomplish this impossible task. And she provides specifics about the exact tactics she used to accomplish it. Notice she’s not using any buzzwords, she’s speaking exactly the way she might speak to her friends about this. And suddenly you have something that’s relatable and believable.
And now I see this person, I think, wow, this story doesn’t seem like it could have been made up. I need to talk to this person. They sound like a superhero. Even this last bullet shows a ton of impact without even one metric. So focus on telling stories about impact. Humans relate to stories. So I’ve actually left the most controversial one for last. It’s about supercharging your job titles. And that does not mean misrepresenting your level. It doesn’t mean that you are a front end developer and you add the word director to your title.
It means that you’re tweaking your title to make it easy for recruiters who are oftentimes not sophisticated or not familiar with your field to say yes to you and remove any uncertainty or doubt for them that you’ve held the responsibilities in the job description. So for example, I saw this resume, someone who’s worked at Salesforce and their literal title was member of the technical staff. I had no clue is this person junior, are they a director? Do they have reports? Because I’ve never seen this job title before. It’s a Salesforce specific title and I could not figure out how to place this person. But then I asked them to give me the title they would be given at any other company in this role. Oh, it’s software engineer, it’s an IC software engineer role. Okay. That makes it much more clear what you do without me having to carefully read your bullets.
And as a recruiter who is not always an expert engineering, it’s very easy for me to match this title to the job description and assume you must be superficially qualified by your title alone. And so as I mentioned it’s unethical to completely misrepresent what you did, but to tweak your title to remove uncertainty is totally okay. Think of is it something you could defend in a background check where you’d feel comfortable explaining the situation? Put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager. Would you feel lied to or would you understand? So for example, one example I give our backend developer versus software engineer, these can be used interchangeably at a number of companies. So if you want to create a variation of your resume that has your most recent role as software engineer instead of backend developer,
Angie Chang: [inaudible 00:18:42]. Sorry,-
Tal Flanchraych: It’s very [inaudible 00:18:44] explain for a background check. All done. All right, well it was,-
Angie Chang: I’m sorry. It’s time. Thank you so much. That was an excellent talk. I’m sure everyone’s going to want to connect on LinkedIn with you. You can share your slides and any resources there. Thank you so much. All right.
Tal Flanchraych: Of course. Got it. [inaudible 00:19:01]. Thanks so much everyone.