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Google’s director of talent explains how to write a killer résumé

Here’s what to do to make yours stand out from the pack, says Google’s director of talent and outreach, Kyle Ewing.

Google’s director of talent explains how to write a killer résumé
[Photo: Lucas Sankey/Unsplash]

Last year, Google received more applications than any other year—nearly 3.3 million. It’s no surprise that a lot of people want to work at Google, but what’s interesting is that the tech giant doesn’t use a bot to screen résumés. A real person reads every one.

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“At Google, we still rely on humans for hiring—it’s the most important thing we do,” says Google’s director of talent and outreach, Kyle Ewing. “We train folks to look at résumés for skills and competency. For the candidate, the most important thing to consider is how that piece of paper can properly reflect all of your dimensions.”

Whether you’re looking for a new job or simply giving your résumé a refresh, knowing what companies such as Google train their HR team to look for can help you stand out. Here are four things to include:

1. Your experience

Look at your résumé as an opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments. “We encourage folks to think about not just where they worked or went to school, but to convey the experience they gained and the lessons they learned,” says Ewing.

If you’re a recent grad, include experiences such as academic research, tutoring experience, and recent student group or class projects, she says. Also, showcase professional accomplishments as well as highlight the intersections of work and life.

“If you volunteer or have a passion project or side hustle, adding those things tell a better story about you beyond work—a holistic candidate narrative,” she says. “At Google what you add to our culture is what you contribute beyond nine to five. We know experience comes in many different forms.”

2. Your results and impact

In addition to what you learned, think about the impact you’ve made in your previous roles and projects. People are often taught to use data in a résumé, but it needs to be connected to impact, says Ewing.

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“Include sentences to describe that data,” says Ewing. “You need language to bring it together.”

If you are applying for a business role—in account management, for instance—convey your experience by sharing what you accomplished, how it was measured, and how it was done. For example, “I grew revenue from 15 small business clients by 10% quarter-over-quarter by mapping new software features as solutions to their business goals.”

This framework can also apply to any relevant leadership positions, university honors, or other types of recognition. “It’s okay to humblebrag, but there is a way to do it with humility,” says Ewing.

3. Critical language and keywords

As you share your experience and results, consider the job description as a guide for identifying the attributes to highlight.

“Pay close attention to these keywords as they’re often what recruiters look for on résumés to fill specific roles,” says Ewing. “One shortcut is to actively highlight any critical words in a job post that align with your existing skills and knowledge, and include what’s relevant in your résumé.”

Ewing suggests using bullet points to help recruiters stay engaged. Then demonstrate how you possess the skills.

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4. What you can add to an organization

Ewing says she wants the candidate to explain what they bring to the organization, not just what makes them a fit for the role.

“Since your résumé is often your first impression to recruiters, depending on the role and your seniority, consider adding a short summary section at the top,” she says. “Focus on relevant work experience and what you can add to the organization.”

You can also add value by providing qualitative and quantitative examples of previous experience, rather than a list of recent job roles.

“At Google, we’re committed to assessing candidates based on their competencies, not only their credentials,” says Ewing. “And since there’s no one kind of Googler, we’re always looking for people who bring new perspectives and life experiences to help us build stronger teams, products, and services.”

Creating a résumé can feel clinical and like a chore, but Ewing cautions candidates to be careful when they craft theirs. “Don’t do it when you’ve had a terrible day at work, are at the end of your rope, and want a new job,” she says. “Instead, get in the habit of updating it every January. Approach it with a self-care lens so that thoughtfulness can shine through.”

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