Due to the proliferation of Applicant Tracking Systems, you should expect that the first time your resume is reviewed by a human, it will be reviewed on a screen … not on paper.
Even if you send (or drop off) a paper resume, expect that it will be scanned, so that it can be searchable. This helps the employer pass Department of Labor audits, by demonstrating that interviewees are selected by objective criteria, based on keyword searches.
The assumption that your reader is reading your resume on screen, rather than on paper, has a huge impact on your resume strategy.
Especially when you combine this with the fact that the average Hiring Manager/HR Rep/recruiter makes their interview/non-interview decision in 15 seconds or less, you should see that your reader sees your resume differently on screen than on paper (see http://www.recareered.com/blog/2012/01/31/6-ways-to-get-your-resume-noticed-in-15-seconds/).
Compare this with traditional resume strategies that we learned when we graduated college/grad school (reinforced by most unemployment counselors, ministry based employment groups, outplacement firms, alumni offices, recruiters … and even most career coaches). Since our college placement office published grad resumes in a book (or e-book), which they sold – they taught us to present our best information on page 1.
… but there’s a problem when we apply this to resumes read on screen in 15 seconds.
Readers who give resumes given a quick scan can’t see the whole first page in just 15 seconds. They see the top 1/2 of your first page (at most, depending on your formatting choices).
We learned a strategy that assumed everything on the first page would be read by our audience.
But when you thrown in the assumptions of reading on screen and a 15 second scan, you only have the top 1/2 of your first page to gain your reader’s attention. Unless you show them you are a superior candidate in the top half of your first page, it won’t matter what follows … because your resume will be in the discard pile and the rest of your resume won’t get read.
Most resumes I review share this challenge – your best stuff is on the bottom half of page 1 … or on page 2.
When you start to think about how your reader perceives your resume, remember that the first decision is based entirely on gut feel (do you expect a detailed analysis in 15 seconds?) … and that gut feel is based on the top half of your first page.
That first decision is whether to scroll down, or instead, move to the next resume.
This has to be the first goal of your resume – to get your reader to press Page Down.
Take a look at your own resume. Does it grab your reader by the collar, demonstrating that you are a superior candidate in the top half of your first page? Does it clearly show the features and benefits of you as an employee (the bullets under your work experience)?
Or is the top of your resume “seller’s fluff, forcing your best stuff further down the page, where it’s not being read?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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