This is the second in a series of articles highlighting principles for writing a sparkling resume. Each article presents one or more keys to creating a professional and effective resume that generates interviews.
How Resumes are Read
Resumes are rarely read. Resumes are first scanned, usually by HR (Human Resources) or the internal recruiter. Resumes are scanned in about 10 seconds per resume. HR scans hundreds of resumes daily and does not have the time to read resumes in detail. Even if they did it is unlikely they could perform a detailed screen because they are recruiting for multiple disciplines and understand each discipline only at the conceptual level. HR is looking for keywords. You’re competing for the reader’s. If a quick scan captures the reader’s interest they read it in detail.
Resume reviewers first scan your resume looking at the positions you’ve held and the companies you’ve worked for. Their eyes scan your resume from company/position to company/position. This is why it is important to use descriptive titles for the positions you’ve held. When your assigned title does not accurately communicate your duties, substitute a more descriptive and accurate title. For example, if your title is “secretary” but you provide administrative support to an executive, then using a descriptive title like “Executive Administrative Assistant” will be more effective. An example form the engineering field: If your title is “Member of Technical Staff II” and you are a Senior Software Engineer working with JAVA, then a more effective descriptive title might be “Sr. Java Software Engineer.” Using descriptive titles helps communicate your experience and responsibilities rapidly. Make sure to use descriptive titles that accurately reflect your responsibilities.
Reviewers also look for keywords. You can influence how the reader scans by selectively bolding or underlining words you want to highlight. Highlighting keywords in this manner helps capture the reader’s eye. Highlight only those parts of your background that most correlate to the position you are seeking. Highlighting too many words will be counter-productive. Be very selective with the words you highlight.
Two Different Readers
After your resume is scanned by (HR), it goes to the hiring manager. Hiring managers invest more time reading each resume. Hiring mangers are looking for compelling reasons why they should interview you. They’re also looking for reasons not to interview you. Hence, be sure to highlight accomplishments you’ve achieved so the reader can visualize the results you can achieve for them.
One page resumes are appropriate for individuals with 3 years experience or less. The one page resume rule is very out-dated and not appropriate for most professionals. 2 to 3 page resumes are very common and appropriate for individuals with 3 or more years of experience. Page format like margins (top, bottom, left and right) and font size of will significantly affect resume length. Use font size of at least 10 point. This is the minimum font size that most people can comfortably read. 11 point font is best for most resumes.
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