Recruiters spend a lot of their time reading resumes. It’s just part of the job—and a fairly big part of the job, at that. Because recruiters have so many resumes to read each day, they can’t afford to linger long on any one of them. In fact, the average recruiter spends mere seconds on a resume before deciding whether to investigate further, or toss it in the trash. Not minutes. Seconds.
What this means for you as a jobseeker is that you’ve got to make a huge first impression. You’ve got to grab attention. And the only way to do that is with a well-formatted and engaging resume document.
So how can you ensure that your resume lands a punch within that brief window of time your recruiter gives it? Here are five tried and true methods.
Make a Strong First Impression with Your Resume
Make it Skimmable
Remember that, with just a few seconds to spare, your recruiter isn’t going to read every word of your resume. Rather, he or she will skim through it, trying to catch on to the basic progression of your career. Make your resume one that’s easy to navigate at a glance. Divide it into three or four main sections—a professional summary, a list of core competencies, a professional history, and an education section, perhaps. Make sure each section is clearly delineated.
The first section of your resume should be an executive summary—not a career objective—that clearly lays out your brand and the value you bring to employers. Following that, include a list of core skills—a bulleted list of keywords and key phrases that correspond with what you’re proficient in.
Get Straight to It
Don’t beat around the bush! Every word and every second count. Rather than open your sentences with florid prose or with fluff, lead off with strong verbs—action words that convey immediate impact.
Nothing grabs a recruiter’s attention like the presence of numbers, which quantify your achievements. Not all professions lend themselves to clear metrics, but any numbers you can share are helpful, and should be included.
Make sure your font, format, and style choices don’t fluctuate across your resume; if you bold company names in one section, bold them everywhere else. If you capitalize job titles here, capitalize them there. This is another way in which you can make your resume easy to skim, easier to make sense of at a glance.
Write for Recruiters
The bottom line: As you construct your resume, you’ve got to remember that a recruiter might read it—and that recruiters need something that will make an immediate impact.
This article originally appeared in The Red Ink.