If doing what you do now—only at Google—is your idea of a dream job, you’ve got plenty of company. About 3.3 million people applied last year. That’s a new record, and an 18% jump from 2018. Says chief of of talent and outreach Kyle Ewing, in a classic understatement, “We read a lot of resumes.”
Given such ferocious competition, how do you make yours stand out? Certain basic rules apply, whether at Google or anywhere else—like making sure it contains the same keywords that appear in the job description, so applicant tracking (ATS) systems can spot you quickly.
Beyond that, Ewing offers these four tips for snagging Google recruiters’ attention:
1. Explain what value you can add
Take a look at the first paragraph of your resume. What’s in there, which Ewing calls “prime real estate for grabbing attention”? Rather than writing about how your skills and experience makes you a good fit for the role, emphasize what you can bring to the table, and how you envision it benefiting the company. “You can also incorporate your ‘add-value’ in other ways,” Ewing says. “Instead of a list of previous job titles, for instance, structure your resume to provide examples of what you did and the results you achieved.”
Likewise, if you’re an IT person with a bunch of certifications, incorporate those into your descriptions of your previous jobs. “People tend to give us a list of all the computer languages they know—C++, Java, Python, and so on,” Ewing says. “It’s much better if you can show us how you’ve applied that knowledge by saying something like ‘Used Python to do X’.”
2. Base it on time and experience
“Not one single job at Google requires a four-year college degree,” notes Ewing. That’s not to say that recent or soon-to-be grads shouldn’t mention what they’ve been doing for the past four years, but even there, “the emphasis should be on the impact you’ve made from things like academic research, tutoring, and recent student group or class projects.”
Already been in the workforce for a while? “We still want to know about any degrees you received but, if you have three or more years of experience, we no longer ask for a GPA,” says Ewing. “We see great candidates who are self-taught programmers, competition junkies, and veterans of start-ups, so we know that valuable experience comes in many different shapes beyond formal schooling. We really want to hear from everyone.”
(Incidentally, a note to the Class of 2020, and anyone else who’s been turned down for a Google internship: Don’t feel bad. Undergrads send in more than 125,000 applications annually—for a mere few hundred openings. No matter how wonderful you are, those odds are awful.)
3. Quantify your accomplishments
This is a good idea on any resume, but especially important at Google. “As a data company, we want to know how you apply key metrics when speaking about your experience,” says Ewing. “List examples concisely and use data, comparisons, or averages to provide context.”
Let’s say you’re applying for a sales role. Ewing suggests you “convey your account experience by sharing what you achieved [X] as measured by [Y] and [Z]—for example, ‘Grew revenue from 15 small-business clients by by 10% quarter-over-quarter by mapping new software solutions to their business goals’.” Those last eight words are essential, Ewing adds: “Instead of just stating that 10% increase, give us an idea, briefly, of how you did that.”
4. Don’t worry about length
Lots of people still have the old shibboleth lodged in their minds: An effective resume should take up no more than one page. “The number of pages doesn’t matter anymore,” Ewing points out, “because now your resume is most often seen online, where all the reader has to do is scroll down.”
That said, try not to ramble, either. “The length of your paragraph about each job can vary, but just make sure the person reading it can easily see both the impact you had, and anything specific you learned from the experience,” she suggests. “Distill it down to the main points with no fluff. The same applies to the overall length. Be clear, without including every single detail.”
One final test for your resume: Is it interesting? Try asking someone whose judgement you trust to take a look before you submit it. Ewing points out that a great resume includes a whiff of the ineffable. Call it marketing, or showmanship. The best ones are intriguing enough, she says, “to leave the reader wanting more.” And that, of course, is when you get called in for an interview.
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