You’ve probably heard about the 10-second rule, which states that a hiring manager will only spend about 10 seconds reading your resume. This is misleading. What it really means is that your resume only has about 10 seconds to convince a hiring manager to read it more thoroughly.
Advertised positions frequently attract hundreds of resumes in response to a single positing, making it impossible to read through every resume received. Therefore, many companies use applicant tracking software (ATS) to screen out resumes that do not meet their criteria. Those that make the cut will then be forwarded to a hiring manager who will determine the best candidates to interview. Considering that a hiring manager’s time is frequently spread across many different priorities—and reading resumes is not necessarily a top one—you want to make the process easier by creating a resume that is informative, relevant, and interesting to read.
Here are 6 steps for making your resume more interview-worthy:
1. Develop Your Resume from a Plan
Writing a resume without a plan is like building a house without a set of blueprints. If you start writing your resume without a plan, it will probably wind up looking like you threw it together in a hurry with little preparation. This is not the image you want to convey. A resume plan will help you organize your thoughts and gather the information you’ll need to build your resume before you even lay down a word. It will also help you develop a resume that is well-organized, uncluttered, and carefully structured, which will convey a positive impression about the way you approach your career.
2. Sharpen Your Resume Focus
A resume without a focus is a resume with little impact. Don’t leave the hiring manager guessing about what position you are seeking. Eliminate any guesswork by providing a short, focused objective statement identifying the specific position, or grouping of related positions, that you are applying for. Establishing a focus also helps guide the strategic direction for the rest of your resume. It is the “silver thread” that holds the resume together and prevents it from wandering off course.
3. Choose the Right Keywords
Resume Keywords are words or short phrases that describe specific skills, qualities, or credentials that an employer deems important (or essential) for the position you are seeking. Many recruiters and employers use keyword-driven applicant tracking software to sort, scan, and rank resumes they receive in response to a posted position. The resumes with the most keywords are the ones most likely to receive the highest consideration. If you’re uncertain about which keywords to use, look at job descriptions for the types of positions you’re targeting and make a list of of the particular skills they are looking for.
4. Stress Your Achievements
The most effective resumes are those that highlight their results and achievements. Achievements show that you have gone above and beyond the normal call of duty and have produced added value for your employers. Responsibilities, on the other hand, simply demonstrate that you showed up for work. Achievements will differentiate you from your competition. Therefore, it is well worth the investment of time to identify as many as you can and quantify the results wherever possible.
5. Write with Conciseness and Clarity
Nobody wants to read a confusing or long-winded resume. To keep the reader engaged and interested, you need to communicate your message quickly and clearly, using sentence fragments (in lieu of complete sentences) that are succinct, straightforward, and written in an active voice. Choose your words carefully and be vigilant in eliminating unnecessary and redundant language. Resist the temptation of going with the first words that come to mind. Instead, continue to edit and “sculpt” your wording until it becomes more concise and your message becomes as clear as possible.
6. Make Sure Your Resume has “Curb Appeal”
Just as a house with an attractive view from the street can help sell your home, a resume with “curb appeal” can help sell your qualifications to a prospective employer. A resume that is carefully laid out with a pleasing balance of visual elements, such as blocks of text, bullet points, and well-placed boldface type, will stand out from the “stack” of cookie-cutter templates. It will also convey the message that you take pride in the quality of your workmanship.
Keep in mind, the purpose of a resume is to land you an interview. A resume that is focused, well-written, and articulates the value that you will bring to the table is one that will motivate hiring managers to pick up the phone and call you for an interview.
Tom Albano is a Certified Executive Resume Master who has helped thousands of jobseekers, ranging from recent college grads to C-level executives, transform lackluster resumes into compelling self-marketing pieces that generate interviews. Please feel free to contact Tom by phone at 973-387-0134 or by email at email@example.com to receive constructive feedback on your existing resume.
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Keep in mind, the purpose of a resume is to land you an interview.