What if you only had 30 seconds to convince a virtual stranger to give you a job? That might seem like the plot of some surreal suspense movie, but it is actually what you are doing every time you send out your resume. And that may even be a generous estimate.
In fact, a recruiter or a hiring manager will most likely do a 10-second glance at your resume just to look for reasons to throw it in the trash. That's disheartening I know, but there are ways to avoid getting your resume "typecasted" before it has a chance to sway someone to your favor.
A recruiter will toss your resume if...
- It's too long. Resumes should be one page, two pages at the most. It's not about making sure you have listed every accomplishment — it's about listing the accomplishments that will be relevant to the position for which you're applying.
- The manager can't easily discern your list of skills on the front page. Time is short, especially for a person who is tasked with sifting through hundreds of resumes. It's not realistic to expect that person to "seek and find" your skills and achievements.
- If it is written in paragraphs or lengthy sentences that do not lend themselves to a quick glance. Bulleted lists are your friends.
- If it contains too many formatting tricks and a load of different fonts. It's exhausting to wade through italics and underlining and bold.
So, given the fact that you have a few seconds to get your point across — the point being that you're qualified for the job at hand — make sure the most relevant information is up front and in bite-sized chunks. Relevant information includes skills that fit the job for which you're appplying, and accomplishments that show you used those skills to better the companies for which you used to work.
List your education near the end. Harvard may be impressive, but what is relevant to the recruiter is if you have the proven skills to do the job he has in mind.
A good test would be to set a timer to 30 seconds and see what information you can glean from your own resume in that short time period.
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Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.