Skimming – that's what hiring managers are doing when they are going through resumes. There's no time to read word-for-word when there are hundreds of resumes coming in for that one position, so they skim for key information. In fact, studies show that they spend about eight seconds scanning your resume.
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If you want a positive response on your resume in the 8-second resume glance, here's what you have to do.
1. Make the top-half of your resume count.
The only part of the resume that everyone reads is your opening profile. This is where you need to distinguish yourself from the 300 other people seeking the same opportunity. In short, you summarize your skills and experience and develop your value proposition. In other words, you are stating, “Here's what I can do for you, here is how I do it, and here is where I have done it before." A good test to see if your opening profile is any good is to delete those sentences that all candidates can say and leave only those statements that only you could make.
2. Get in the keywords that matter.
In the 8-second glance, the hiring manager is skimming for relevant keywords and phrases that may inform him you have the right type of experience and skills that match the needs of the job. Things like job titles will automatically apply, but review the job posting carefully for additional hints, like specific technical skills and knowledge-sets like “employee development" or “lean Six Sigma," and other phrases that may be applied to your resume to make it more eye-catching.
3. Lead with the best information.
Your experience should use the Harvard format: roles and responsibilities in paragraphs and bullets for achievements. This allows them to easily see the bulleted accomplishments. Start your bullets with results and put the most impressive ones first. For example, “Reduced budgeting cycle time 35% by introducing new procedures." Also, remember to stick with action words, not a passive voice like “helped" or “followed."
4. Don't make the reader squint.
When the font size is less than 11, it generally becomes harder to read on screen and on paper. Ensuring your resume is legible in the rush of eight seconds is critical. Stick with traditional fonts like Arial, Tahoma, Cambria, Calibri, or Times New Roman. Also use bold typeface for things like your employer and job title to help guide the reader through the different sections of your resume. Add in the proper amount of white space and use bullet points, and your resume becomes easy to digest – not a document that's suffocating and chaotic with large blocks of text.
If the hiring manager is not finding the right information in the eight seconds it takes to glance through your resume, it's going to be rejected.
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About the author
Don Goodman's firm was rated as the #1 Resume Writing Service in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Don is a triple-certified, nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist who has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Check out his Resume Writing Service. Get a Free Resume Evaluation or call him at 800.909.0109 for more information.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert.