Get Your Resume Screen Ready

Posted by Pat Tovo
resume screen ready

Your resume is the most valuable tool in your arsenal for executing an effective and speedy job search. It offers you the best opportunity to introduce yourself to a recruiter and it’s your frontline warrior in helping land your dream cleared job.

It’s commonly accepted that a recruiter will spend less than 10 seconds initially scanning a resume. That’s not a lot of time to make an impression. And it gets even more challenging in today’s digital world. Recruiters review hundreds of resumes on any given day via their computer or tablet. That can lead to eye strain and brain drain. Consider these tips to make sure your resume is easy on the eyes and captures recruiters’ attention.

The “Eyes” Have it

First tip, remember that dense blocks of copy are difficult to read and hard to digest – this is especially true in digital format where the eye must scan across a wide screen. You want to make a terrific first impression, and making life easier for a recruiter will go a long way in garnering their attention. White space is your friend.

Typically, the eye starts to read from the left but then can jump around as something captures our attention. Keep important information to the left of the document. For example, headings like Summary, Experience, Education, and Clearance.

Simplicity Rules

Stick with a basic font in black – no script, fancy curly-Qs or colors. Again, it’s all about ease in reading. There is a tendency to think that fancy makes you stand out but for a cleared resume that is just not the right approach.

Use concise bullets to highlight your experience. This is not the place to ramble on about your tasks in a previous role. A simple accomplishment statement will more likely catch the recruiter’s eye. When in doubt, use the STAR formula (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) to help you craft your bullet points.

While it is often recommended to keep a resume to no more than two pages (unless you are demonstrating 10+ years of experience per the job posting’s requirements), put as much white space in your resume as possible. You can add more spacing between bullets and keep your margins standard width (no cramming in info from edge to edge).

Say it out loud – easy readability is key!

Take Advantage of Technology

We live in a digital world so make that an advantage for you. Since your resume is going to be viewed on a computer or tablet, make use of hyperlinks that are clickable. You can use this to direct recruiters to your LinkedIn profile or your online portfolio.

Don’t Forget Key Words

Many cleared employers these days use an automated applicant tracking system to scan your resume for experience that is required for the position. Make sure those key words from a job posting are repeated in your resume. (Yes, you need to revise your resume for each application.)

“If the job description has the words, tomato, ballerina, and cake decorator, make sure you include those on your resume,” said Martha Schneegans, Senior Technical Recruiter at ManTech, on a recent episode of our Security Cleared Jobs: Who’s Hiring and How podcast.

Those important words will relate to skills and qualifications, like cyber security architecture, infrastructure development, HTML. Resumes that don’t reflect appropriate experience will not be found in the search results and considered further.

Keep in mind, though, that you should not embellish or list skills on your resume that you cannot honestly speak to during an interview. Don’t use key words to get noticed if they are not true.

Also, most recruiters prefer your resume as a Word document vs a PDF. The files are smaller and if your resume is saved by mistake as an image PDF (it happens), then it’s not searchable – meaning, it cannot be scanned for key words.

Remember the Basics

Whether you are handing your printed resume to a recruiter at a Cleared Job Fair or it is being viewed online, there are general guidelines to writing an effective cleared resume. Here are the highlights:

  • Don’t list all your job responsibilities, focus on accomplishments.
  • As much as possible, quantify your success. For example – Developed a processing system that improved productivity by 16%.
  • Remember to ease off the acronyms. What if the hiring manager or recruiter doesn’t understand what you mean?
  • Use action words to lead accomplishments – Directed, increased, supervised, developed, etc.
  • Talk about core competencies in your accomplishment statements, including a mix of your hard and soft skills such as leadership, critical thinking and team work. You can’t just say, “I was an excellent leader who instilled teamwork.” It needs to be part of an accomplishment, not a recitation.

Rise to the Challenge

Building a strong resume takes a diligent effort. And it’s ongoing. Looking for a job is a challenge, and you will be smart to remember when it comes to an effective resume, one size does not fit all. But your experience has created a unique cleared job candidate and your resolve will take to you to new adventures. Enjoy the journey.


This entry was posted on Monday, May 01, 2023 7:31 pm

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