Getting Your Resume Read

Guess how much time I am going to spend reading your resume.  Take your time.  Seriously.   Don’t rush.  Take your time.  Think about it.

Want to know the answer?  Just about the amount of time you have spent reading this article.  Not the amount of time you will spend reading this article.  The amount of time you spent reading the first paragraph and the first two sentences of this paragraph.  In other words, you have about five seconds to grab my attention and convince me you are worth my time.

How do I, and every other recruiter and HR professional, read a resume?

First, we look at your location.  If it’s a local search and you are not within commuting distance, that’s the end of you.  If you don’t include your city and state of residence, we know you don’t know how to write a professional resume and, same result, you are filed (and sometimes forgotten).

Second, I look to see if you have an “Objective” and a “Professional Summary.”  If you do, I reject you because you are insulting my intelligence and wasting my time.  (I do have colleagues who disagree with me on this point.  They are wrong.  I am right!)

You see, your objective should be to get the job for which you are applying.  If the “Objective” states that you want the exact position you are applying for, I’ll assume you prepare a different resume for every job and so the “Objective” has no validity.  And if it is “valid,” why include it?  After all, you’re applying for the job!

As for the “Professional Summary,” they are almost always self-praise.  I don’t care what you think about yourself, the only thing that interests me is that you have the qualifications to do the job I’m looking to fill.

Case in point, many “Professional Summaries” begin with the words “Award-winning…”  Funny thing is, they don’t always mention in the body of the resume anything about the award!  If the award is legitimate, it would be included in a separate section, “Awards and Honors.”  If it’s not legitimate, why mention it?

For the record, I’m an award winning executive recruiter and career counselor.  Impressed?  The award was in bowling and was for perfect attendance!  See what I mean?

So I spent one second to determine where you live.  Let’s say you’re local and you have not wasted my time with an “Objective” or “Professional Summary.”  I then start doing some math.  I want to see how long you have worked for each of your employers.  If you group them all together, I know you are hiding something and I will reject you.  If you can’t keep a job for more than a few months, or even just a year or two, you’re a jumper and I can’t submit you to my clients.  But if you have good tenure with most of your employers (everyone is entitled to make a mistake!), I’ll check your qualifications.  Do you meet the minimum requirements.  If you do, then I’ll read the resume.  But I’ll know if it’s worth reading in five second.  Unless…

Here’s how to beat the five second rule:

After your contact information, if you want to, have a title: SALES PROFESSIONAL.   It won’t hurt you.  It may not help much, but it won’t hurt you.  Whether you have a title or not, begin with a “Selected Accomplishments” section.  List, in bullet points, the five reasons why you should be hired.  No superlatives.  No self-praise.  Just the facts.  For example:

–  Annually secured minimum of $2 million in increased revenue over the past five years.

–  Increased sales every year for five years by a minimum of 40% resulting in total new revenue of $12 million.

You get the idea.  You don’t say you’re great, you show it!

And that will get your resume read.  It won’t make up for your being located in the wrong place, or not being able to keep a job, but it might help if you don’t meet minimum qualifications.

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