Generally, recruiters are spending a mere few seconds on the resume as they are filtering through applications that come in. When it comes to resume writing, it’s important to grab the attention of the reader on cursory glance (quick scan), but we can’t forget about the details because there’s also the deeper read (more detailed review) that happens when it gets passed HR and into the hands of the Department head. There’s a fine balance required in resume writing to satisfy both audiences.
Here are some of the inside tips to resume writing and finding the right balance:
- Organize Information
A well-organized resume presents information of utmost importance at the top. When presenting bullet points under sections, information is also prioritized with the most important bullet point going first. Information needs to be put in clearly defined sections so the reader knows where to look. The use of white space can help the reader determine where one section ends and the next section begins. Font formatting styles like bold, underline and italics can also help draw the eye to key points on the resume, especially during the cursory glance. A well-organized document structure is a crucial step in making your resume easy to skim.
An effective resume will give the reader context – meaning you help the reader understand your experiences and skills. Simply indicating keywords or responsibilities held in your past position does not tell recruiters how well you performed on the job and the type of experience you bring to the table. It’s important to add scale and numbers in resume writing - just putting your prior job title on your resume does not convey that you are qualified for the new role. Did you manage a staff of 5 or 25? Did you manage a budget of $50,000 or $500,000? Did you work within the North American markets or Europe and Asian as well? These finer details help to paint the picture needed to relay your level of experience and how you may fit within its business and workplace culture. Read How To Quantify Your Accomplishments for more tips on making your achievements stand out.
- What’s Your Specialty?
Many job seekers are misled into believing employers value the generalist more. On the resume, all that does it dilute your message. Focus and align your messages to clearly define your specialty and relay your successes in the area so that the employer can envision how your experiences and skills may translate to results and success for its business. Additionally, if you are writing a resume and do not have a degree that applies for your target role, make sure to write your resume appropriately so that you are still a candidate for the job.
- Lead with Achievement and Results
Many of us were taught in school to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. “First I did this, then I did that, and this is what happened at the end.” When it comes to resume writing, the process learned in school is ineffective. Think of your resume as your personal brand - lead with your achievement and results first because your mission is to first grab the attention of the reader. Once you have them, then you have the window to provide more detail. Going about the other way can makes you lose the interest of the reader, especially during the cursory glance. For more guidance on tailoring your personal summary to communicate your personal brand, read Tips for Writing A Summary for Your LinkedIn Profile and Resume.