Most of us have heard real estate agents say that what makes one house sell faster than another is location, location, location.
The same holds true for why one candidate’s resume is read when others – countless others – are dismissed. It all has to do with how you present your data, where you locate this information on a resume.
A Resume is a Commercial About You
Think of a resume as a marketing piece, because that’s exactly what it is, and the product is you. When you set out to buy something, you have a need, correct? You’re hungry, thirsty, you require transportation or a new pair of shoes. With that need in mind, you search for a means to fill it. You go to a fast food outlet that has the kind of meals you want at a price you can afford. Or a car dealership with easy credit. Or the mall to get those shoes on sale. Each time that you made a choice, you based it upon how well it would meet what you required.
Hiring managers are no different. They have a need in the form of a job they have to fill. They know what the requirements are and the kind of individual they’d like to hire. Once they receive dozens or perhaps hundreds of resumes, they set out to narrow the field and eventually choose the winning candidate. If you don’t make that task easy, by spoon-feeding them the information in the correct location, you won’t be considered.
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A Resume Should Tell a Story
You’re the lead character. The opening summary should paint you as the ideal candidate for the position, dovetailing what you know and can do to what the job requires. Like the synopsis on the back of a novel, your summary should inform and entice the hiring manager to read further. Don’t keep this information a secret or scatter it throughout the document, hoping the hiring manager will read the entire resume because you’ve made them search for data. None will. They have too many other candidates to consider. Again, location, location, location. Make the opening summary work for you. It’s the first thing a hiring manager sees. Include one, preferably two, recent/relevant/quantified accomplishments. When you begin a resume with how you can make a company money or save it money you will hold a hiring manager’s attention.
While the most valuable real estate on a resume is the opening summary, the next most important is a section dedicated to your accomplishments. It should follow the summary and build upon what you stated there, showing the hiring manager how you consistently performed and achieved. When you’re competing against numerous other individuals with the same professional and educational background, the only thing that will set you apart are your accomplishments.
Professional Experience Should Focus on Results not Tasks
By the time a hiring manager gets past the first half of your resume, interest may begin to wane. To ensure that you hold that person’s attention, you should present the results of what you do and have done, rather than simply detailing the duties. For example, it’s better to write, “Increased productivity 15% by updating the division’s filing system”, instead of simply writing, “Updated filing system.”
Present Education Last if You’re a Professional
After three or more years in the work force, your work performance means more to a hiring manager than where you went to school or what degree you obtained. Don’t put it first on a resume. That’s not the correct location for someone who’s not entry-level or just starting out.
Don’t Forget Curb Appeal
No matter how wonderful your background is, your resume won’t be read if it’s sloppy in appearance, uses fonts that are difficult to read, has spelling and grammatical errors and doesn’t look professional.
Those candidates who know what data to present first, what to showcase and what to minimize, are the ones who win interviews. It’s all about giving hiring managers what they want and presenting that data in the correct location, making the resume easy to read and follow.