Studies have repeatedly shown that employers spend between five to twenty seconds when first looking at a resume. As a resume writer, how do you create a resume to capitalize on such a brief period of time?
First, it needs to be visually appealing and easy to read: plenty of white space, font size not too small or too large, font enhancements (bold, caps, color etc.). More to the point, the resume should immediately answer the following questions on every employer’s mind: Who are you? What do you do? What can you do for me?
This is accomplished by formatting the client’s name as the predominate bit of information on the resume, following this with a headline that identifies the client’s occupation/occupational focus, and then a branding statement that states what problems the client is best at solving.
Putting the most compelling elements that substantiate a person’s qualifications for the targeted job in the top one-third of the resume will help to pass that initial five- to twenty-second first review. Using a headline, short bullets, list of keywords or brief paragraphs will help to keep the eye moving along this section and, because of that content, persuade the reader to read the entire document with the ultimate goal of having the job seeker called for an interview.
Your Resume Is Your Marketing Brochure
Your resume is frequently the first formal presentation of your professional credentials to a hiring executive. Think of it as your marketing brochure. It must have an impressive appearance (easy on the eyes), be well formatted (layout of how and where information is presented), and have persuasive content. Take the time to write a resume that appears professional. In order for your resume to provide that positive first impression, make sure that it:
• Has a clean, professional appearance. Develop a document with plain, simple language. Also be sure that the use of font size, bold print, lines, headings, spacing, bullet points, and so on, is consistent throughout. Any graphics and shading must be readable. Your resume must have a “wow” factor.
• Has a title. This will announce the professional qualifications to follow in the body of the resume.
• Has branding words or a branding statement. Either of these will help present your value proposition.
• Contains accurate contact information. Be sure your contact information is up to date.
• Features a concise, professional summary. This should highlight your background and give information to support your professional value proposition.
• Lists core competencies or qualifications. Showcase your strongest skills, abilities, experience, education, and special knowledge.
• Lists achievements. State what separates you from the pack.
• Is written for easy reading. Keep paragraphs short and use subheadings to break apart information.
• Could include charts, graphs, and pictures. To create distinction and visual appeal, use charts and graphs to show your accomplishments. Pictures that align with your industry, if well used, can be unique and draw the attention of the reader. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
• Honestly represents your background. It is estimated that “more than 80 percent of resumes contain some stretch of the truth.” Be honest with your background and achievements. If an embellishment is discovered, you lose your integrity and credibility, and they will be extremely difficult to regain. Your employer won’t trust you. And if others find out you embellished, that will make it harder still on your reputation.
It is perfectly acceptable, and encouraged, to write a generic form of your resume. You can modify it for specific opportunities that you pursue. Just remember what form of your resume you use with specific employers!
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