En Route: A Career Blog

Should your resume be reduced to a 20 second read?

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: November 6, 2012 at 11:06 am

Each day, I go to various LinkedIn groups and answer questions posed by candidates seeking advice with their resumes.

Just recently, this question was asked:

I have a detailed two page resume which I was using with little success. I hired a resume evaluation service which assisted me in creating a “one page 20 second read to entice contact and request more details…” I customized what I send for each application and I really can’t tell a difference in the success of one over the other. With that being said, I have met with recruiters/HR who ask, “why wasn’t that included in your resume…?”

I’ve found that many job seekers are confused as to how long a resume should be and the contents it should contain.

How Much Time is Afforded to a Candidate’s Resume?

The answer is very simple and it’s common sense.

1. You must capture a hiring manager’s or recruiter’s attention in 7 seconds or less.

How do you do that?

By having an effective Qualifications Summary in which you paint yourself as the perfect candidate for the position. Here, you would use keywords from the job opening, detailing how your skills match their requirements. You should also include one, preferably two, recent/relevant/quantified accomplishments.

That’s the 7 second lead in that will draw the hiring manager or recruiter into the rest of your resume.

What You Achieved Should be the Main Focus

2. You should separate accomplishments from tasks.

The best thing to do is to create a separate Career Accomplishments section on the first page of your resume (prior to Professional Experience). List your achievements beneath a company header where you achieved them. Accomplishments are all that separate you from the countless other candidates vying for the same position.

3. Make your Professional Experience section results oriented rather than task oriented.

Writing “Responsible for accounting functions…” doesn’t say as much as “Reduced billing hours by three days, saving the company $15,000 over a six-month period.”

4. Don’t include anything extraneous, irrelevant or what might be considered fluff.

You may believe it’s great that you’re a Scout Master (and it is), but unless that information is related to your job search, leave it out.

Resume Length – It Has to Be Correct for Your Situation

Don’t make the mistake of making your resume so brief that you look as though you haven’t worked at all and have few skills. Don’t make it so long that it will be tossed without anyone reviewing it.

Keep it succinct and focused. The final length will be the correct one.


Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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