5 Simple Tips for Crafting an Attention-Grabbing Resume

Apr 8, 2021

Thirty seconds.

That's about the length of time you have to make a great impression with your resume. The average hiring manager spends between 30 and 45 seconds reviewing a resume. That means you need a strong resume in order to stand out from the crowd and improve your chances of being selected for an interview. Here are five simple tips for making sure your resume grabs the hiring manager's attention and impresses them enough to get you a face-to-face meeting.

"Twitter-Fy" Your Resume - Keep It Short

Like it or not, we live in a "Twitter" world, so resumes should be designed with a 140-character attention span in mind. Your most compelling information should be at the very top of your resume to make sure the hiring manager sees it instantly and is compelled to read more. Use bullet points, rather than long-form paragraphs, and make sure to keep your resume under two pages. If you're still early in your career, you might even be able to properly represent yourself within a single page. For candidates with several decades of experience under your belt, limit your resume to the most recent 20-30 years of work history, unless your early experience is directly related and important for the role you are applying for. If that feels limiting to you, consider adding a note such as "Additional experience details available upon request" to the end of your resume. Remember: your resume doesn't have to tell your whole story, it just needs to give enough information to get you an interview.

Highlight Your Most Relevant Skills and Experiences

Your resume will look a little different depending on the position you're applying for. Study the job postings that interest you, and then try to incorporate as much of the description and requirements as possible into your resume. Of course, you should always keep it honest -- don't misrepresent your credentials, but include specific skills and experiences that the employer is looking for and that you possess in your resume. For example, if there is a list of preferred technical skills or competencies, make sure to include any you may have clearly on your resume. You can even use specific phrasing from the post to demonstrate your interest and qualifications.

Tell Them Who You Are - Simply and Clearly

The very top of your resume should clearly and briefly state who you are. Start with the basics: your name, city, state, phone number, and email address. Below that, your headline should be as close as possible to the title or position you are applying for. You can also include relevant industry experience here. Here's an example: "VP Supply Chain - focus in pharmaceutical and e-commerce." If you do not currently hold a Vice President title, you might list "Operations Leader" or "Director" instead - be honest and stick closely to the target position. It's important to note that hiring managers do not hire an "Executive Summary" or an "Objective," so those statements are not the best choice for a headline.

Show How "Heavy" Your Experience Is

Once your resume has made a clear statement about who you are, it's time to give some more detail about your experience. Always use quantitative data, which can be counted and measured, as opposed to qualitative, which is simply described with flowery language. Be specific: How much revenue, budget, and P&L oversight have you been responsible for? If you work in sales, what is the size of your book or territory? How many people have you managed, directly and indirectly? How many buildings, departments, SKU's, and processes have you managed? Don't settle for generalizations like "handled large budgets efficiently" or "demonstrated team leader" - list specific dollar amounts for budgets you've overseen and the size and makeup of teams you've managed.

Highlight What Makes You Different

Remember: every candidate who applies for a job is going to say they are qualified. What you have to do is prove it by detailing your relevant accomplishments. And just like when you detail your experience, use quantitative rather than qualitative data, focusing on numbers, percentages, and dollar amounts. Examples of significant data-based accomplishments include "increased sales by [X amount]," "reduced headcount by [X amount]," "improved efficiencies by [X amount]," and "opened [X number] of new locations." Remember to tie in specific requirements from the job posting, and use your resume to quantitatively prove that you can handle the job you're applying for.

Your resume doesn't need to show a hiring manager what you can do - it needs to show what you have done. A resume is not a promise, it's proof. By presenting a brief resume with clear and qualitative data about your relevant accomplishments and a customized demonstration of what makes you qualified for a specific position, you can help ensure that you will make a strong impression and earn a chance for an interview -- all in just 30 seconds.

About the Author

Guy Ross

Guy began his career at Kimmel & Associates in 1998, after working in the EAP (Employee Assistance Program) profession for nine years. There, he worked with company leaders to enhance and resolve job performance issues of underperforming employees.

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