Do you think yours is an engaging resume that allows the persons hiring to quickly and easily conclude that “you’re the one”? Or is it full of words impressing you with all you’ve done?
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In my networking and in my career coaching and mentoring work, I’m often asked to give feedback on a person’s resume.
And so I’d like to outline a few repetitive insights that I find I am constantly sharing with those requesting resume feedback.
What’s the Primary Purpose of an Engaging Resume?
We need to appreciate that the person or company hiring usually has a problem that the business needs to resolve. And all they really want is for the right person to be found that can help them make that problem go away.
Hirer’s are time poor and often inundated with hundreds of applications. Having to wade through piles of resume submissions is tedious. And time consuming. And yes, frustrating. Why?
Well, because they often fail the engaging resume test. Meaning? It doesn’t immediately or compellingly engage the readers attention. And interest. Research suggests “the shutter drops” after no more than between 7.5 and 30 seconds.
So that’s got to be the primary purpose of your engaging resume. To attract the readers attention to want to continue reading and consuming it. And placing it in the “I want to come back to these pile”. That’s it.
What I’ve Found
What I’ve found is that most resume’s I see don’t focus their submission on inspiring quick confidence that they can help the hirer make their problems go away. Risking to fail passing that first hurdle.
Instead, most are usually a (very wordy) collection of all the different tasks they did in their current or previous roles. Hoping that the reader will be impressed with the breadth and depth of everything they have done.
And yes, some add to that what their doings achieved for their team or employer. However, most of those achievements don’t contain sufficient dimensions to give the reader a feel for the size, the environment, complexity and outcomes in the form of metrics and ratios. Either in $ or % or absolute numbers. You know, showing sales or productivity growth or cost or other savings or expansion or market share or competitor elimination or solution or process innovation etc?
But there is a much more important emphasis that is usually missing. Showing the hirer how what they’ve done previously actually equips them to do justice to the hirer’s current requirements. And tailored to the expectation of the role being filled.
This not only shows them having done their homework. Making it easier for the hirer to decide to want to “buy them”. Due to the relevance of their expertise and experience. But also shows their creativity and initiative. Are you starting to see some engaging resume traits?
Too Many Words (Less is More)
Most resume writer’s will suggest maximum 3 -4 pages at most for a resume. Why? Time poor readers.
So writers will try to cram as many words as possible into those 3 – 4 pages. Often even reducing the font to achieve that. Trying to outline as much as possible, all the things they did.
My tips here are usually:
- Use less words. Short, sharp sentences. Only relevant content. Emphasizing measurable achievements. Tailored to be relevant to the presumed expectations of that role.
- Have a logical structure and flow that leaves enough “white space” in the document. Making it easier on the eye.
- Highlight key words or phrases in each point you’re making. In Bold, italics, underline, different fonts and font sizes etc. Why? People don’t read. They scan. Highlighting key words or phrases enables them to scan and still get what you’re saying. Quickly. Effectively. Making yours stand out against 100’s of others because it is scannable.
- Oh, have I said you need multiple resumes? Of course each resume and covering letter will be tailored to the needs of the specific ad and the role you’re going after.
But there’s another aspect. If you’re responding online to an ad, your initial letter and resume needs to emulate as many words used in the ad as you can. Robots often “do the first read” and eliminate based on key words. You might find jobscan.co useful here.
Using your creativity to get the agent another “real” copy of your resume further shows initiative.
So What makes Engaging Resumes stand out?
I’ve learned that what truly makes a resume engaging is that it is tailored to influence the reader to quickly decide to want to read on. That it suggests you have a career plan and how this role might suit that for the success of both parties.
Showing how what you’ve achieved is completely relevant to the success of this role. Even if you haven’t held that level of responsibility yet. Showing your achievements in such a way that the reader has to conclude that you’ll “eat” theirs, given the chance. In my recent career clarity blog I share another intriguing technique that will capture hirer’s attention here.
This is where your recent and relevantly selected testimonials can add such powerful endorsement to your achievements. Linked-In needs to highlight those.
Finally, the photo. There’s as many voices for a photo as there is advice against one. If you choose to use one, it is worth investing in a REALLY good professional photo. And if you have a Linked-In page, please make very sure that your photo there is top-notch. That’s where hirer’s will go after your engaging resume has convinced them them yours is worth pursuing. And please be sure your “tailored” resume emphasis isn’t completely out of line with what your linked-In profile says (smiley face).
I hope you find these hints and tips useful to complement what you have read, researched and come to believe to be right for your resume. It’s something very personal. But needs to meet the general expectations out there. It’s so much part of what career coaches help do with you.