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Impress Before They See Your Resume

28 Aug, 2017

Impress Before They See Your Resume

Ah. After much hard work, your resume is beautiful! You’ve spent countless hours (and perhaps a chunk of change) perfecting both its content and appearance and now you’re ready to send it out to fulfill its primary duty–landing you an interview. Or several. And fast.

What you may not realize, however, is that the first interview is about to begin—the 6-10 second interview where the recipient of your resume quickly and perhaps even unconsciously begins evaluating your candidacy based solely on *how* you’ve applied for the job.

Unlike a traditional interview, the 6-10 second interview, often conducted by overworked, unimaginative appointees, doesn’t offer you the chance to respond to initial questions, biases, and concerns; it’s just them, your resume, and that dreaded “delete” key.

Here are some resume tips to help you make the right first impression:


Hiring managers receive anywhere from 10 to 1,000 resumes a day by email so it’s understandable why they may get a little agitated after opening a dozen resume files in a row entitled resume1.doc. Use a more specific naming convention for your attachments, incorporating your full name and the position to which you’re applying. Uniquely labeled files are easy to remember and (more importantly) easy to retrieve later on amongst a sea of “MyEngineeringRez.doc” files.


Using your personal email account is fine, as long as your user name and domain are palatable in the professional world. It’s hard to take someone seriously when they’re sending from “coolsherry@yahoo.com or porsche_man@hotmail.com.” Consider investing in a website, especially if you’re in the IT industry. That way you can use your own name as a domain, create user names specific to your field and position, *and* store your resume online for easy reference.


Keep your correspondence limited to the contact specified in the job description, lest you risk stepping on the wrong person’s toes. Human Resources personnel, administrative assistants and other screeners watchdogs may be offended if you try to go over their head. That said, if you’ve identified an employee with decision-making power through your own personal network, you should contact them directly. Just be sure to introduce yourself (in-person, on the phone, or by email) *before* you forward your resume. Then ask for the proper application procedure (i.e. should anyone be copied on this email?).


Unless otherwise specified, you should always send an ASCII (text-only) resume embedded in the body of your email along with an MS Word or Adobe Acrobat attachment. This way, the recipient will have the option to begin scanning your plain text resume immediately or to open up the “reader-friendly” version. If you’re unclear as to what an ASCII resume is, find out soon; they’re quickly becoming the standard for online resume submission.


Computer crashes can ruin anyone’s day, including the hiring manager who’s having trouble opening your gargantuan Photoshop file. Keep the size of your collective attachments down to 50Kb. This means no pictures (of yourself or anyone else), graphics, writing samples, or lengthy resume addendums. Save these items for the interview or send them upon request only.


Always, without exception, include a cover letter embedded in the body of the email. This is your opportunity to introduce your resume. Don’t ever pass it up. If you’ve written a cover letter that warrants more than a passing glance, attach it as a Word or Acrobat file alongside your resume, and make sure it’s clearly labeled as a cover letter.


All companies have a preferred way they like to process resumes, just as you have a preferred way you like to receive, open, and organize your mail. Keep their life simple and follow directions even if it means pasting that cumbersome 16-digit job code in the subject line *and* the body of your email. One last note: If their requests contradict any advice you’ve read or heard (including this article), go with what they say….even if it makes absolutely no sense. You’ll get points for following along.


Proofread, proofread, proofread. As is true with any marketing document, it’s essential that your email, cover letter, and resume are flawless. Spend a final five minutes (at least!) reviewing your work, preferably after a short break from your computer to give your eyes a much needed rest.

These are just a few ideas to maximize your chances at getting a call for an interview. Remember, you’re being evaluated the minute you hit that “send” button. Make sure to seize this opportunity to further impress those power-wielding screeners. By the time they get to reviewing your resume, they’ll already be rooting for you.

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  1. It helped a lot when you mentioned how you should avoid having a picture on your resume. I had no idea that this was a good thing to keep in mind while trying to be professional. My brother needs help writing the resume he needs to send to the engineering agency he wants to work with, so I’m glad I found your page.

  2. Camille Devaux

    I really like that you can find a service that will coach you on following their lead. This is a great way to make sure that you are getting the right resume. Making sure that you are writing about how the company wants will help my cousin.

    • Maria Hebda

      Hi Camille and thank you for your comment! I’m glad you found us and passing along what you learned over to your cousin! Here’s to their career success!

  3. I liked your advice to keep it simple. My friend was talking about wanting to make sure that her resume showed who she is as a person and not just showing her past jobs and skills. I think that this is a really important principle to keep in mind when writing your resume and I know it would be helpful to have some help writing it out until you get the hang of this step.

    • Gerty, thanks for posting your comment and finding the information shared helpful. If you haven’t already, bookmark our page so you won’t miss out on our latest posts – have a great day!

  4. Sarah Meagle

    My sister just graduated from college and wanted to land a job right away. It was explained here that she should keep it simple and use her name as a domain for her resume online. Moreover, it’s advisable to go to trusted businesses for good resume writing.

    • Maria Hebda

      Hi again, Sarah! I see you posted here too but this time around about your sister. Yes, going to the resume writing experts for career advice is a step in the right direction! =)

  5. Heidi Bookenstock

    My brother has just finished up grad school and is now on the hunt for a job. He’s asked me to help him perfect his resume. I think the tips in this article are super helpful, it’s smart to have a professional sounding email address and maybe even your own website.

    • Maria Hebda

      You’re welcome, Heidi – glad you found value for the information shared! Thanks for posting your comment too.

  6. Ashley Maxwell

    Cliff, thanks for your comment about you should label your resume so that it’s easy to understand when someone is reviewing it. I like how you said that you should make sure your resume is tailored to the type of job you are applying for. My sister is considering getting some resume help for jobs that she is considering applying to. Thanks for the tips.

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