The old maxim that your resume has 15 seconds to make an impression has been cut in half. With millions out of work and hundreds (if not thousands) of people vying for a single job opening, those seven seconds will either make you or break you in today’s job search market. Here are five proven ways to make your impression in seven seconds or less.
Throw out the old shotgun approach of trying to be everything for every one. While blasting your resume into cyberspace is one component of a comprehensive job search strategy, selectively targeting companies and job openings is the most reliable source of job search success. Showing a prospective employer that you understand his business, understand his goals, and that your expertise is exactly in line with his needs will capture and hold his attention.
2. Offer Value
Nothing sells like value, and employers need to know that you will deliver value. I had a client this week who told me that he spends a great deal of time and energy ensuring he hires the best fitting employees for his team, and he is not alone. With the cost of hiring just a single new employee running in the thousands of dollars, employers take great pains to ensure they are hiring the best fit for their companies (“Jack-Of-All-Trades” beware). I like to begin my resume by making a unique promise of value, then spending the rest of the resume proving that my clients deliver on those promises.
3. Eliminate the Details
Details clutter the page and make a resume painful to read. Give HR and hiring managers a break by documenting only the big ticket items they are interested in. Stick to brief descriptions of your critical job roles, job scope, and the challenges you faced and overcame. Stick to the past 10 years or less when you can, and when you can’t, use only value statements from your oldest jobs that reinforce your unique promise of value.
4. Keep It Short
Eliminating details and older positions will go a long way in keeping your resume to two pages or less, but there are other powerful ways to keep your resume short and sweet. Achievements are the backbone of a solid resume, but only if those achievements are relevant to the position applied to (remember, an achievement in one position might simply be a responsibility in another). Stick to impact statements that clearly demonstrate how you helped elevate business performance and brought tangible value to the company, and eliminate others. Two or three solid impact statements will carry far greater weight than five or six (even slightly) off-topic bulleted achievements.
5. White Space
Too much text is an automatic reader turn off. If the reader cannot look at your resume and pull out the most relevant information in 7 seconds, you’re done for. By balancing the use of bullets, bold text, margins, and white space you can create an eye-popping presentation that focuses the reader on your value.
Today, the average job search takes 90 days (source: Harry Joiner, recruiter, cited on Jobradio.fm). By researching companies, selectively targeting your presentation, offering relevant value, and making your resume an easy read, you can realistically reduce those 90 days by half.