When you consider how your resume will land in the hands (or on the screen) of a hiring manager, there are a ton of important things to consider, especially if there are hundreds of applicants to weed through. Here are a few possibilities for how your resume might be read:
- Your resume could arrive via email or an application form and so the manager would read it on their computer screen, or possibly even their mobile. Always consider the screen size and test read your resume on your computer AND your phone.
- It’s wasteful and old-school, but some HR teams might print out your resume in order to be able to pass it around. This makes it tactile and has better presentation.
- Your resume may already arrive in printed form if you are able to hand-deliver it, or possibly were required to mail your documents in an envelope.
In whatever form your potential employer receives your resume, it will likely only get a passing glance or a quick skim. Design and presentation are paramount. The first phrase or sentence that grabs the reader will pull them in like a magnet.
Something in your resume needs to grab their attention, or else they’ll put your resume down or turn the page on the screen, never to return, and you’ve lost the opportunity. That will be it. How many seconds elapsed while the manager scanned your resume? Maybe ten seconds, if that!
Get Their Attention
Attention is the key term here. You have to grab their attention. You have to give them a reason to keep reading, just like a really killer article. Your resume has ten seconds to answer the critical questions that will be in a hiring manager’s mind. With that, here are 5 crazy important questions that your resume must answer clearly, concisely and in perfect grammar.
Why would your prospective employer hire you?
When there are hundreds of applications that arrive for a single position, it’s likely they all possess the ‘requirements’ that are detailed in the application or job posting. A large portion of hiring professionals and recruiters have a very clear understanding of the culture of the company and are likely to hire with an emphasis on fit rather than pure technical training.
Provide a succinct representation of who you are very early in the resume with a very high-level hook that details why YOU would be an ideal FIT at the company. This is where you will have done your research and can drop in one specific item that you learned about the company. That will impress and show that you are intelligent and have done your homework.
Ya, but do you have the training to do the job?
Good job, if someone is still reading, then you’ve done your job and are past the first test. Now is the time to shine, but be focused. There’s no point detailing how proficient you are with Photoshop or have experience with the latest point of sale systems when you’re applying for a database developer position. You don’t have much time, so only detail the skills that are immediately relevant to the position you’re applying for at that company.
As with the intro, you’ve done your research and have a clear understanding of what a database developer will bring to the company or the service delivery.
Great, but have you done this before?
Now for the experience. Give an example of how you’ve solved a problem in the past in a similar position or even as a hobby. You don’t need to have had job experience. If you’ve developed something on your own and took the time to plan it out and develop a solution to an issue or built a usable, functional application, go with that! Your future employer wants to know that you’re passionate and driven to solve problems.
Peer outside the box and away from “Here are the jobs I’ve held”
Hiring professionals are required to weed through hundreds and sometimes thousands of resumes and you need to stand out. Simply regurgitating your previous employers in a nice, neat line doesn’t provide all of the context. Add a summary of your position and your specific responsibilities. If there’s room detail an event or a project that you were especially proud of. This feeds the passion and drive seed that you’re planting from earlier.
Okay, show me the diplomas and certificates.
If the reader is this far, they’re looking for some validation of your skills and experience. If you’re applying for a project management job, then you’ll likely have completed a college-level program or similar professional development course; use that. Detail any other online qualifications or certifications that you might have from programming courses to marketing and business degrees. Here you can list it all as it shows commitment to advanced learning and development.
Can you communicate with an international audience?
This may not seem like a significant item, but depending on how international your prospective company is, you may be tapped to engage with other audiences that match your language knowledge. Be sure to detail your proficiency in any additional languages from French to Spanish and beyond.
Okay, well done. Now give me a glimpse into YOU as a person outside of the office?
This is where you loosen your tie and give a little insight into your personality. Don’t be shy, but don’t be crude. Are you a dog or a cat person? Maybe no pets at all. Do you have a family? Have you done a good amount of travelling, camping? What sports do you participate in? Who knows, you might just find that tennis partner you’ve been looking for. Don’t be pretentious or political but share your values, your employer will appreciate this part as this is where some of the ‘will they fit’ questions will start to be answered.
With that, we appreciate you making it this far and hope that you are emboldened to update your resume with more of ‘you’. We would say that 90% of resumes are boring formula documents that have no endearing qualities.