Is your current resume ready for ‘prime time’? This is not about the peak viewing time on television, for which advertising rates are the highest. It refers to the less than 30 seconds that it takes a recruiter or hiring manager to make a decision about your resume.
Consider this: The average length of a television ad is 60 seconds, much longer than the time it takes the most discerning, eagle-eyed recruiter to scan a resume and decide if it should be tossed in the trash bin, deleted from a database or placed on the ‘for further review’ pile.
If you think of your resume as an ad for a product, and the buyer as a recruiter or hiring manager, how will you ensure that your resume grabs their ‘prime time’ attention and be given the cursory 30-second look?
The five tips below are not all-encompassing, but should certainly help your resume meet the prime time test:
Conduct a prime time test. Grab a copy of your resume right now and review it. What’s your impression? How is it packaged? Will it be noticed within that 30-second flash of time? Does it have an attention-grabbing headline? What have you included in the top-third of the document commonly referred to as ‘prime real estate’? Is the space dominated with a ‘me-centred’ Objective, or does it have an impressive value-based statement highlighting why you are uniquely qualified to fill the position? Does it have a strong value proposition?
Look for career defining stories. As you continue your review, is the resume saturated with career defining stories demonstrating your skills, strengths and accomplishments? Are these stories connected to the employer’s buying motivators or needs? Or, is it packed with statements and responsibilities directly from your job description with no accompanying results or outcomes? It is quite common for job seekers to create resumes laden with job descriptive statements when hiring managers want to see resumes laden with value. Eliminate such statements if you cannot show value. Ultimately, employers hire based on results (or value), not on what you were “responsible for…”.
Weave in endorsements. Do you know you can enhance your resume with third-party endorsements about your achievements and your capabilities? Not just any endorsement, but testimonials and recommendations from influencers in your network or comments culled from your performance appraisal. Not only do these comments tell the hiring manager that you are the best thing since sliced bread, but statements coming from people who can attest to your abilities – your manager or former supervisor – give you credibility.
Experiment with a creative layout. Is your resume created with one of those templates that everyone uses, or does it have a unique layout that captures the reader’s attention and tempt them to want to read more? You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create a nicely-laid out resume that stands out and appeals to the reader.
Focus on value more than length. While most people prefer a two-page resume, some recruiters say it depends on the level of the position. One executive recruiter, David Perry of Perry Martel said, “Length doesn’t matter to me, as long as it is laden with value.” Another recruiter said, “A long resume (8+ pages), is just too much, no matter how many years of experience a person has.” How long is yours, and does it have relevant information that would grab the interest of a hiring manager? If it is laden with value, then length won’t matter.
In a competitive job market when recruiters and hiring managers are deluged with hundreds of resumes for one position, your resume must be ready to compete for prime time. Make sure to include several compelling stories that focus on your unique value. To get to those stories, ask yourself, “What problems did I solve? What legacy did I leave, or am I leaving in my roles?” Only then will you be able to craft a resume that will be ready for prime time.