MP spoke with Tony Gerbino, Managing Director at Townsend Search Group, about how job seekers can craft better resumes. Gerbino joined Townsend in 2010 and has recruited senior-level executives and emerging leaders for over 15 years. He has completed engagements in private equity, investment banking, corporate development, corporate finance, and accounting. Gerbino brings lasting partnerships and trust earned through integrity and keeping himself reliably available to the people and clients he serves. 

Before Townsend Search Group, Gerbino worked for a national professional services firm that provided permanent staffing, consulting, and outsourcing solutions to various organizations, from start-ups to Fortune 500s. He was an associate at Spencer Trask Ventures, a boutique private equity and venture capital firm that invests in healthcare, consumer, specialty chemical, and ingredient companies. He began his career in financial services at UBS in New York.

What can job seekers do to craft resumes that help them stand out from the crowd, and why?

It’s critical to ensure your resume is clear, succinct, and to the point, while highlighting achievements and career moments that showcase your progression of skills and knowledge. It is also essential to make it “personal” – companies hire people and need to know their stories and what experiences have shaped them.

I also recommend seeking advice from a trusted recruiter or advisor even when you are NOT actively looking for a position. 

It is always a great idea to touch base with a professional who constantly has a pulse on relevant market opportunities and hear the perspective of someone whose role is to find the most attractive candidates.

How important is it to include achievements using numbers, metrics, dollars, and quantities wherever possible, and why?

So long as you’re not sacrificing any sensitive proprietary information, you should include applicable metrics to give scale to the company and the impact your contribution made to the project you’re describing. 

Metrics will also give the individuals reviewing your resume insight into the relevance of the particular need they may have and your ability as the candidate to handle the task.

A resume should always include an adequate description of the company that shares key industry indicators, especially if the company is lesser-known. 

Additional metrics candidates should add to their resume include the company's revenue, revenue growth under your purview, and contribution to that growth. 

Candidates should also quantify team oversight and briefly describe the team composition, numbers, and each specific role.

How targeted should resumes be to the job for which a candidate is applying, and why?

A resume should be tailored to each position a candidate is applying for. 

The resume should highlight relevant elements of a candidate’s background and show a level of commitment and time spent researching the company. A candidate should always be in the headspace of “why and how my skills complement this position or organization.”

The candidate may have the skills the position requires, but it may not come out in a job title. A hiring manager will interpret this next-level detail as indicative of their commitment rather than blindly applying it to every role in the vicinity of their background.

Applicant tracking systems are often used to streamline the hiring process. How can job seekers position their resumes for the best chances of success when such systems are being used by the companies they are applying to?

We’d hope that all resumes are carefully reviewed, but unfortunately, that is not the reality. 

For the desired position, candidates should tailor their resume to incorporate as many relevant industry- or position-specific “buzz-words” into their resumes. 

This is key if a candidate's title doesn’t reflect their actual responsibilities or if they are looking to move into a specific niche where industry skills are required. 

They have the requisite skills, but that may not come out without peeling back the onion.  

Is holding an executive position for a long time or demonstrating a solid progression and career over time more important, and why?

Employers always look for “next-level” talent. 

Having a long-tenured executive position can illustrate a track record. Still, depending on the situation, an employer may want someone with the attribute to be an executive that they can mold into their image rather than someone who is less moldable and has habits that may not be influenceable.

How important are specific keywords in resumes, what do these keywords look like, how should they be used, and why?

While we hope there will be someone on the other end of the screen reviewing each resume with a fine-tooth comb, it’s usually not the reality. 

Some career opportunities receive dozens or even hundreds of applications at one time. In this instance, someone in an HR or recruiting position may use keywords to search through resumes to find the skills or experience they’re looking for.

To include industry or position-specific keywords, candidates should review the job description or the recruitment messages they’ve received and add them where applicable in their resume. 

The position profile can be a road map to efficiently marketing yourself to a hiring manager.

How should resumes be designed, and why?

A resume should be clear, concise, and in traditional format and fonts. 

Each position should name the company, including a description of it and whether it’s privately held or public (depending on your industry). Suppose a candidate has less than ten years of experience. In that case, they should include their GPA (major and overall), test scores (ACT / SAT), and, importantly, a section of their interests, associations, and personal attributes.

Employers are hiring PEOPLE, and the interests and attributes you include speak to you as a person and why you may be a fit for a team. 

Sharing your interests allows the recruiter to find a commonality or ground and build a real connection. Many hiring managers consider this during the application process – it’s essential to have a relevant skill set, but do I want to spend most of my days with this person?   

What personal information should be on a job seeker’s resume, and why?

You should include your name, address, phone number, email, and LinkedIn profile. 

Your LinkedIn should also be tailored to your resume. The intersection between LinkedIn profiles and resumes is blurred, so tastefully being “visible” is critical.  

How long should resumes be, and why?

The rule of thumb for resume length is one page per decade of work. 

A resume is meant to be a list of talking points to spur conversation. 

A differentiator is if a candidate submits a cover letter, addendum, or deal sheet specific to the position they are applying for, which further allows you to describe yourself and illustrates your interest in the position you’re applying for in specific detail.

What are three common mistakes job seekers typically make when applying for jobs, and how can these mistakes be avoided?

1. Not Being Specific Enough to the Position They Are Applying For

If there is a job description, there is a roadmap for the candidate to follow.

2. Applying for Every Job Under the Sun

When recruiters or talent acquisition see the same candidates for EVERY job out there, it is a red flag. 

3. Only Apply to the Positions You Are Truly a Fit For

If you are a manager, you probably aren’t going to be a CEO right away, and the oversaturation of job applications isn’t positive.  

When do resume templates with excessive colors, graphics, and multiple columns start to work against job seekers, and why?

When the resume template takes away from space that could be used to articulate a candidate’s strengths and experience, it becomes the focal point rather than the content itself. 

As mentioned, a resume should be clear, concise, and traditional for talent acquisition to navigate during the review process.

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