Job Seekers: How to Get Your Resume Read for Longer than 7 Seconds
A quick Google search will reveal that it normally takes a hiring professional seven seconds to scan a resume before deciding whether a candidate is a good fit for the job opening. But how can a job seeker ensure they become an outlier of this statistic by keeping employers’ eyes glued to their resume?
In the quest to understand what makes a resume stand out, we asked a diverse group of hiring authorities — including one of our very own executive recruiters — to share what prompts them to review an applicant’s entire resume. Read on to see their insights and examples.
The Three C’s
Three main elements compel me to read a candidate’s whole resume:
- Cleanliness: A resume with a neat title and an aesthetically pleasing format from the top down is easy to read and keeps me focused.
- Clarity: When I come across resumes without an introduction, I must draw my own conclusions about who they are and what they want to accomplish. An attention-grabbing and clear objective or professional summary shows me what they value about themselves and what they are trying to convey to hiring authorities.
- Conciseness: Resumes that are over two pages are usually just too much! A succinct resume gets the job done in this fast-paced world we live in. For professionals with a long track record, utilize the limited space to cover your most recent work experiences and achievements. Jot down a few highlights from older positions only if they are relevant to the job opening.
Alexander Dodge, Account Executive & Recruiter at Bristol Associates, Inc.
Quirkiness Makes a Resume Memorable
I only read resumes that have something that stands out. And I’m not talking about a 4.0 GPA from Yale or an internship at Google. I mean quirkiness. There needs to be something truly quirky or out-there that catches my eye.
For example, we were hiring a new product manager, and the resume that grabbed my attention listed “classically trained pianist” as a skill. Obviously, playing the piano has nothing to do with the role we were hiring, but I thought that was funny and interesting. I ended up reading the whole resume just to learn a little something more about this person. We didn’t end up hiring them, but their resume got a full read when very few others did.
John Ross, CEO at Test Prep Insight
Professional Layout and Design
For me, it’s always the layout. When an applicant puts in the work and presents a well-crafted resume that looks professional, I know I have to look further. My favorite resumes have all the right fonts and design highlights, are neither run-of-the-mill nor over-the-top, and strike the right balance between creativity and content.
How the headlines are placed and how helpful they are in making each section stand apart from the rest make a difference, too. So does the use of lists or tables where essential information needs to be presented in an easy-to-read format. When all these elements come together in the right balance, I will likely spend more time on such a resume and remain curious about the person who has put all this work into creating a great first impression.
Neil Platt, Director at Emerald Home Improvements
Standout Accomplishments and Achievements
A standout accomplishment or achievement right at the beginning of a resume prompts me to read it in its entirety. This indicates that the candidate has achieved something impressive and has the potential to bring value to my company.
Consider this example. A resume that starts with “Increased sales by 50% in just six months through strategic marketing campaigns.” is impressive! It piques my interest to know more about how they achieved such amazing results and what other skills they bring to the table.
For applicants, highlighting your most standout accomplishment right at the beginning ensures your resume is read from start to finish. It’s like a hook that reels in hiring authorities and makes us want to learn more about you.
Johannes Larsson, Founder and CEO at JohannesLarsson.com
Storytelling in a Resume
A resume must tell the story of a candidate, not just list details of qualifications, skills, and experience. So, when a resume accomplishes this goal of storytelling, and — just like a great story — captivates the reader to dive deeper to find out more, you know it’s an impressive resume.
In my case, I’m always on the lookout for unique morsels of information that pique my interest and pull me in. When I see some interesting information, and I know there are more bits like these strewn across a resume, that’s all the motivation I need to scan the entire resume with diligence.
For example, if a young attorney is listing their wins until now, I’ll be more interested in reading the resume if it contains real stories and anecdotes related to a few cases. Now, I know a lineup of client names and case descriptions gives me all the essential info, but that simply isn’t enough for me to take a genuine interest in a resume.
Riley Beam, Managing Attorney at Douglas R. Beam, P.A.
Tailored Relevance to the Role
Evidence that an applicant’s resume has been tailored specifically for the role in question immediately prompts me to read the entire document. For instance, a concise objective statement at the beginning that aligns with our company’s mission and the position’s requirements captures my attention.
A generic resume may hint at a lack of genuine interest or effort. Conversely, when an applicant showcases experiences and skills that are directly relevant to the job, it signals forethought and initiative.
Furthermore, highlighted achievements that can relate to potential challenges in the new position can serve as compelling motivators for a deeper review. An applicant’s dedication to customizing their resume speaks volumes about their genuine interest in the position and the company.
Riyaz Khatri, Founder at Jusebeauty
Insight from Personal Interests
One of the most important aspects that prompts me to read an entire resume is to review their personal interests or hobbies. This gives me an understanding of how passionate they are and how their personality fits with my company culture.
If an applicant lists a hobby, such as coding simple software projects in their free time, it speaks volumes about their potential and enthusiasm for problem-solving tasks. This provides unrivaled insight into how committed they are to learning new skills and furthering our team’s goals.
Carly Hill, Operations Manager at Virtual Holiday Party
A compelling story and a carefully planned layout are just some of the many factors that job seekers need to consider in order to create a well-crafted resume that gets noticed by an employer and holds their attention for longer than seven seconds. Keep all of these components in mind the next time you refresh your resume to persuade hiring authorities that your professional journey is worth the full read.
Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 55 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; CBD; Facility and Concession; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Healthcare; Hotel and Resort; Nonprofit; Restaurant and Foodservice; and Travel, Tourism, and Attraction industries.
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