In a recent study conducted by TheLadders on Eyetracking Online Metacognition, the resume gets read in six to ten seconds. That’s how much time you have to catch the interest of recruiters through your academic and professional accomplishments.
Here are points to make an impression in 6 seconds:
1) Focus on your current and last positions, period of employment, descriptive title and accomplishments.
Recruiters use 6 seconds of resume review time searching for just a few important elements:
a) The applicant’s name
b) Current and past employment: It includes your job title and the name of the company you’re currently and previously connected with. List it in reverse order.
- Start first with your current or most recent job.
- State what the company does and your accomplishments.
- Use verbs and statistics. For example: “Increased product sales by 30% within 7 months”.
- Don’t use fluffy phrases and key words to highlight your skills. Examples of meaningless description – “excellent communications skills”, “creative”, “target-oriented”.
- List the things that set you apart from other candidates. Examples:
- Things you’ve done which are above and beyond your job description
- Recognition you received from your supervisor or boss plus awards and accolades. Explain why you received them.
- The new procedures or strategies you implemented to reach a company target
- Goals or quotas you met or exceeded
By doing so, you clearly communicate that you’re capable of doing the job applied for, and that the employer will have a direct benefit by hiring you.
c) The start and end dates for previous and current jobs. It will tell the employer how long you can keep a job or how long the company decided to keep you. If you’re unemployed for more than six months, be sure to write down the freelance jobs or trainings you had. Otherwise, many HR managers will consider you pretty much unemployable. They may assume that many possible employers already passed you over. Most of the employers don’t want to take the risk. Remember, that they will hire you for their own benefit. It’s not for charity.
d) Education: Highlight related academic training, scholarships and awards you received.
2) Professionally written resume: Make the HR manager’s job simple by sending a professionally written resume which has better formatting, lesser clutter, and contains only the appropriate data. Highly organized resumes make it easy for HR managers to find the information they need and evaluate a potential employee. It is easy to spot mass produced application right away so be sure to tailor the resume specifically to the position. If you want to save time and make a good impression, use a professionally designed template.
a) Present a strong and clean visual layout and appropriate blocks of text. Pare down the clutter in your resume by asking a professional resume service or a friend to look at it. A resume with text scattered everywhere may give the recruiter the impression you can’t organize your thoughts well.
b) Avoid typos. It suddenly catches the attention of the recruiter, in a negative way. No matter how stellar your resume looks, a typo may annoy the recruiter right away.
c) Be careful with your formatting. Poor formatting may show that you lack the dedication to write it and may be an indicator of your overall job performance.
d) Don’t use large blocks of text to use up the space. Avoid fancy layout, font and special effects. Stick to conventional 9 to 12 point size, Times New Roman font, and black type. Be consistent on the type size for your name, title and the companies you used to work for.
3) Number of pages. It doesn’t matter if your resume has one or two pages. What’s important is that it tells a good story about what you can bring to the company. This doesn’t mean you list all your accomplishments since you landed a job or every course you finished and certification you earned. Write only the things that will quantify your accomplishments and tell the recruiter how the company benefited from you or how you made a job or project better.
4) Easy to read online profiles. Prepare your resume in a simple Word format for it to be easily viewed on most computers. Avoid a template or a table format.
The purpose of writing a résumé is not to be hired instantly, but to get an interview and be hired afterwards. However, your resume is the best way to get the message across. Without that piece of paper, you cannot land your dream job. So, what are you waiting for?