Prioritizing Information on Your Resume

I reviewed a resume today that made a common mistake.  The resume listed unimportant information first, and the important stuff last.  When a hiring manager reviews your resume, they will scan quickly to see if you are in the ballpark of what they want.  If you are, they will read in more detail.  If you aren’t, you get discarded.  This first decision is often made in the first 15 to 30 seconds.  That’s only enough time to read a few lines.  If you want to make it past this, you need to show very quickly that you are worth additional time.

The resume I reviewed failed to do this.  The candidate is a Distribution Manager and has spent his entire career in inventory management and distribution management roles.  Here’s how the resume was laid out:

  • Objective (five lines of generic text – “…a dynamic, growth oriented business… capitalize on my education and training…  help realize the company’s strategic business plan…”)
  • Professional Profile (eight lines describing the industry and career of the job seeker – not great but much better than the Objective)
  • Summary of Qualifications (four lines listing a variety of skills, lacking any details on the job seeker’s skill level or amount of experience with these skills)
  • Computer Technology (three lines of computer programs and programming languages, with nothing detailing the skill level with each)
  • Professional Experience (the work experience of the job seeker)
  • Education (the degrees the job seeker has)

This structure is ok, it’s the content that is a problem.  The objective, professional summary and summary of qualifications sections make up the top half of the first page, but they add almost no value.  They are little more than a list of keywords put into sentences.  There is nothing that indicates whether the job seeker is any good at any of the skills they mention, and there are no accomplishments to show the success of the job seeker.

Even worse, after the first three sections, the job seeker moves into their computer technology experience.  The section is essentially a list of microsoft products, a couple proprietary software systems and a few programming languages.  This is far from being high priority information.  Even worse, the information listed is obviously out of date.  For example, the programming languages listed have all been replaced over the last two decades.  The job seeker completed a computer science associates degree in 1986, but never worked in an IT position.  So, this candidate is prioritizing that they learned Cobol 24 years ago above their 24 years of distribution experience.  Why would the 24 year old computer skills make a hiring manager want to hire them as a distribution manager?

Review your resume and look for information with limited value to the position you are pursuing.  It can be tough to cut out details that you are proud of, or that were very significant to your career in the past.  Just remember, you need to tailor your sales pitch to the job you are pursuing today – not something you did twenty years ago.