Job Search Checklist #9: Rethink Your Resume Real Estate

Sep 18 2012 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Resumes by Phil Rosenberg

best career advice, best job search information, career advice, job search information, job search advice, job search help, job search tips, career information, career help, career tips, career info, job search info

Number 9 on your job search checklist – Rethink your resume real estate.

Traditional job search methods taught all of us to create a resume that would be read on paper … even though almost all employers have been reading resumes on screen for years.

While traditions are difficult to break, that doesn’t mean you have to follow them like job seeking sheep.

Since the majority of our body of knowledge about job search came from our college placement office, it forms the background of our job search, out rules of thumb and our most difficult to break traditions. If you didn’t make it that far, you were taught by high school guidance counselors, who regurgitated what they learned in school.

And it’s all been reinforced by all the other job search resources you’ve used: Outplacement, recruiters, most career coaches/authors, government, church, alumni, and community resources.

College placement offices taught you to write a one page resume, taught you that all your best stuff should be on the first page (if for some reason you went to 2 pages), because they knew your resume would be read on paper. How could your college placement office know this? Because your college placement office published all the soon-to-be graduating students’ resumes in a book.

Since they were publishing your resume in a book, they taught you how to write a paper-based resume that would work within the limited confines of college placement activities.

Welcome to the real world of job search.

Your college placement office failed to tell you that job search for the rest of your career would be different. Your resume isn’t published in a book (or an eBook) and it isn’t read on paper. In today’s real world job market, your resume is read on screen.

And the job search resources you use today teach you the same thing.

However, in the real world, your resume is pre-screened by applicant tracking systems-based exact criteria matches and visually scanned in a 6 second qualified/disqualified test … then an average 15 seconds total to decide if you get an interview or the boot.

Your college placement office didn’t prepare you to pass any of these tests, because it would have caused you to create a very different resume than what they wanted to publish in their resume book.

In order to pass the second and third tests your resume faces (6 second and 15 second), you need to completely rethink how you utilize your resume’s real estate.

5 Resume Real Estate Best Practices For Today’s Job Market:

  1. Cut Your Resume In Half: Cut your resume in half and you’ll see what your readers use to decide if you’re qualified and if you’ll be recommended for an interview. You’ll see that your best stuff’s got to be in the top half of your first page, because that’s where the 6 second and 15 second decisions are made. Make everything below the top half of the first page as additional evidence … as long as you’re clearly saying the primary reasons why you’re a superior candidate for that job in the top half of page 1.
  2. Minimize Headers: Headers are a necessary evil, because they’re a waste of your most valuable space. You need headers as an identifier, but you don’t have to make them longer than 2-3 lines and you don’t need to have 24 point multicolored, blinking font for your name. Top margins can be as small as 1/4 inch, just leaving enough white space so your resume isn’t crammed against the top edge.
  3. Personal Branding: Create a crystal clear, personal brand that shows exactly why you’re a superior candidate. Make sure it can be absorbed in the readers’ gut in 6 seconds, so your personal branding has to be extremely concise. Use the rest of your resume to sell yourself – Your personal branding statement needs to be easily internalized and show that you’ve already solved the hiring manager’s priority problems – or at least something similar. What if you don’t know what the hiring manager’s priorities are? If you don’t know, then you’re forced to guess … and play with lousy odds.
  4. Death To The Summary: Summary statements aren’t much different than cover letters. Only a small percent of your audience reads them and an even smaller percent believe them. Summary statements are seller’s fluff – most hiring managers, HR reps and recruiters skip over them. Your audience wants to get to your facts, features and benefits … all found in your experience section. The time your reader spends scrolling down to your experience, is time lost from the 15 second test – so the interview/dump decision will be made in less than 15 seconds for candidates with summaries.
  5. Focus Reader On Hiring Manager’s Priorities: If you only have 15 seconds to show your reader that you’re a superior candidate, then you’d better focus your readers’ attention on what’s most important to them – the solution to the hiring manager’s problems. But not just any problems – to pass the 15 second test you’ll need to focus your readers on how you’ve already solved the hiring manager’s priority problems (or similar problems). Do you think having solved minor problems are going to get you hired? Not likely.

Take out your own resume and compare it to the resume best practices above.

Start out by cutting your first page in half.

If you can’t make a compelling first impression that you’re a superior candidate for that job, you’re losing opportunities.

However, if you can clearly show your readers that you’ve not just solved problems, not just demonstrated accomplishments, but show that you’ve already solved the hiring manager’s priority problems.

Many of you have solved these priority problems but you haven’t done the research to learn priorities, or you’re demonstrating that you’ve solved these problems farther down the resume – after your reader has already made their decision to interview or toss.


Want to do more than just complain about a bad economy?

To attend our next complimentary live webinar featuring action items to double your resume response rate and number of interviews, plus live career Q&A with Phil Rosenberg of reCareered, register at .

Available Now On Amazon: Job Search Secrets - Rethink Your Job Search Now, By Phil Rosenberg

Phil shows you why your current job search strategies work against you and how to replace them with strategies that improve your odds. Phil provides you with research - cold, hard statistics provided by job boards and hiring managers themselves, to show you what works for you and against you in the worst job market in our lifetimes.

Download Job Search Secrets on Amazon

Join our mailing list for newsletters, announcements of complimentary upcoming webinars and other job search resources. Sign up at

For access to more information:
Connect to Phil Rosenberg on Linkedin:
Follow reCareered on Linkedin:
Like reCareered on Facebook:
Follow Phil Rosenberg on Google+:
Follow reCareered on Twitter:
Join Career Change Central on Linkedin:

Author: Phil Rosenberg

You might also like

Use Resume Real Estate To Amplify Your Personal Brand What you put on your resume is part of how you brand yourself. But where you place information on...
Rethink Your Job Search Strategy Now What can you change in your strategy today that can help advance your job search next year? It’s a...
How To Make Your Resume Real Estate Sell Due to the proliferation of Applicant Tracking Systems, you should expect that the first time your...
Job Search Checklist #15: Describing past employers Most job seekers spend way too much time and attention describing present and past employers. In...