How To Write A Resume That Beats The 10-Second Review

How To Write A Resume That Beats The 10-Second Review
People throw around all sorts of numbers when it comes to exactly how long an employer or recruiter will give your resume in their initial scan of the document. I've read as many as 30 seconds, and as few as six. I think we can all agree that the preliminary amount of attention your resume gets isn't impressive—and you have to maximize every single second. So, how do I do that? Here are five strategies to help you make the most of that valuable time the employer is willing to invest in reading your resume—and how to hold their attention for just a little… bit… longer….

1. Use A Target Job Title

It's important that the position you want is easily identifiable on your resume—and there's no better way to ensure that than to put it plainly at the top of the document. This gives the manager the information he or she needs to know—exactly the position you want. This is also an area in the resume that's easily customizable as you apply to opportunities at different organizations. Hint, hint… change it as you apply.

2. Create A One-Line Statement

Companies use slogans to communicate value to their potential clients. For example, Subway's current motto is "Eat Fresh." I think this pretty much sums it up. Plenty of people choose Subway over other fast food alternatives as a means to more healthful eating. Just because companies use this method, doesn't mean you can't. Create a one-line statement that sums up the expertise, benefit, or value you offer a potential employer, and put that beneath your job title. It should be concise and communicate value.

3. Benefit-Rich Career Summary

Generic is the problem many job seekers run into when developing their career summary or introductory profile on their resumes. Because it's a summary, candidates think it has to be a broad-based overview that can't delve into specifics or use metrics. The opposite is actually true. The more you insert specific facts, figures, and successes, the more impressive and impactful your profile becomes. Here are some examples: Rather than vaguely stating that you delivered strong and sustainable revenue gains, provide exactly the revenue you produced and over what period of time: Exceeded revenue goals by 110% for 2012 and 2013.

4. Keyword Optimize

Include a keyword section in the top third of your resume that highlights the most relevant keywords for the position you're applying to. You can find these keywords within the position announcement. Include the ones from the position on your resume, and then use this neat little tool to ensure that your resume is optimized for them by checking the ad and your resume here. Here are some frequently asked questions about how it works. Just copy the text from the advertised position and paste it into the box and see what pops up; then do the same for your resume.

5. Note Key Accomplishments

The top of your resume is really where the hiring manager will invest the bulk of his or her resume scan, so we want to make sure that we're giving them all the right information. Once you've included a job title, customized career summary, and the appropriate keywords, you want to follow this up by highlighting your most notable successes. Try to use metric-based accomplishments that are the most relevant to the position you're applying to and that hit on any pain points the company may have; you can usually pick up on these within the position announcement where they ask for the required and preferred qualifications of a potential applicant. Use this information to your advantage; include in this section your achievements that relate to the needs of the employer.

One Extra Tip Before You Go…

One last piece of advice on maximizing the first third of your resume—include a link to your LinkedIn profile within the contact information at the top of your resume. This way, once you ace that initial 10-second resume scan—and they're really chomping at the bit for more information about you—they'll have easy access to your LinkedIn profile and all the great information you've input there. Including all those wonderful recommendations your colleagues and previous employers have written about you, too! With over a 99% interview-winning success rate, these tips have proven very successful for all of our clients. Want similar results? You can read more about working with us here. Want to read more articles like this? Check out 1 Cover Letter Secret that Will Guarantee You Interviews or 5 Things You Should Never Say in Your Cover Letter. This post was originally published on an earlier date.

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About the author

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, CEO of Great Resumes Fast is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter. Want to work with the best resume writer? If you would like us to personally work on your resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile—and dramatically improve their response rates—then check out our professional and executive resume writing services at or contact us for more information if you have any questions. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.