The basic purpose of a resume is get you an interview. This is a simple goal, but one many job seekers struggle to reach. The problem stems from how a resume is assessed. A resume is usually assessed in two very different ways, but few job seekers design their resume to make the best impression during both of these assessment.
The first assessment your resume needs to pass is the initial screen. During this screen, the goal of the hiring manager is eliminate as many resumes as possible in a very short time. A hiring manager might receive a hundred or more resumes for a position. The goal at this stage is to reduce this stack of resumes down to a manageable number, perhaps the top 10 or 20.
In this review, the hiring manager will often have a few criteria that are critical to the position. These critical elements could be educational, work experience or skill requirements. Usually, two or three criteria are sufficient to reduce the resumes down to the top 20.
As a hiring manager does this initial screen, they may only give a resume a 15 to 30 second look. That’s all that is needed to look for two or three main elements. For example, if a hiring manager requires an MBA for a position, it only takes a few seconds to see if the resume lists an MBA.
The common pitfall many job seekers fall into is not making their qualifications with critical elements of the job very prominent on their resume. The education of a job seeker is usually easy to find, since it is in a section of its own. Work experience and skills are not always as clearly identifiable. For this reason, it is extremely important to look at the requirements for a position and make sure you show how you meet these requirements.
If you have the experience that a company wants, it should be clear and easy to find. With hiring managers only spending 15 to 30 seconds on your resume initially, they can only do a quick scan. They will not read every word. Important details of your background need to be prominent. If they are buried in large blocks of text, there is little chance they will be read.
The second assessment is a detailed look at your resume where the hiring manager attempts to learn as much about you as they can. All of the resumes in this group meet the minimum basic requirements for the job. The goal now is to identify the best of the group.
In this detailed assessment, demonstrating qualifications isn’t sufficient. All of the candidates at this stage will satisfy the basics and many will have a background very close to the target of the hiring manager. The candidates that rise to the top and get interviews demonstrate a pattern of success. The key is showing how the job seeker contributed significant value to their employers.
Most job seekers focus on experience. This focus leads to an emphasis on the responsibilities they held. Because their competition for a position held the same responsibilities, this does not differentiate them. Usually, it only gets them past the first screen – the 15 second look. When they are looked at in the second assessment, they get passed over. There will be candidates that emphasize the value they have provided in their careers. By doing these, these individuals rise to the top of the pile and get invited to interview.
When you write your resume, you need to work to make your resume standout in both assessments. Ensure that your resume demonstrates your basic capabilities very clearly and includes detailed examples of your contributions to your employers. If you do both of these things, you will have more success than most of your competition.