Everyone has heard about the “six-second scan” that recruiters and managers do when they read resumes. So, what are they scanning for when they do that? And when they do read your resume for a bit longer than that (and they will if you pass the six-second test), what are they reading for then? It’s absolutely true that some parts of your resume carry more weight than others and are more likely to get viewed. Let’s look at those parts of your resume so you can make sure that you are focusing your time and effort on the right things!
1. The format. While the content of your resume is always the most important, the formatting and visual appeal matters too. Most people can tell within seconds of looking at a resume if you’ve put time, effort and creativity into the document, or if you just threw something together. If you want the reader to spend more than six seconds on your resume, then it needs to have an attractive, well-organized format.
2. Your current, or most recent position. Your most recent position is of particular interest to employers, and will get read more than your older employment. This is particularly true if your resume goes on for two pages (which is perfectly fine, by the way). Generally speaking, your most recent employment is going to be seen as the most relevant, but this may not be the case for those who are changing fields.
3. Specific achievements. Your resume needs to bridge the gap between the employer’s needs and your skills. The best way to do that is by (briefly) describing specific achievements that are relevant to the employer. This could be projects you’ve led, sales that you closed, metrics that you’ve improved, etc.
4. Your career progression. Employers are also interested in your overall career path. They want to know that the people they hire will stay with the company (at least for a while) and are genuinely interested in that company. One way to gauge this is to evaluate your career path so far and determine whether or not working for them fits into your path and your goals.
5. Your online presence. Employers are using LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media sites to evaluate candidates that apply. I would recommend looking at all of your online profiles and asking yourself if you’d be okay with a potential employer seeing it. One tip that I recommend to all clients is to merge your resume and LinkedIn profile together by adding your profile URL to the top of your resume where you have your contact information. This will invite them to view your LinkedIn profile, and it demonstrates that you understand the value of a strong online presence.
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