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Stop Expecting People to Read Your Resume

As a professional resume writer and judge for a national resume-writing certification, I see a lot of resumes. Consider this one I recently received:

The first line was "A dynamic, result-oriented, and multifaceted program manager with 10+ years of experience."


That’s what we call fluff—assertions of self-greatness that have yet to be backed up by accomplishments.


Keywords are industry or role-related terms used in the job posting. If you ask some career experts about keywords, they’ll say you need to match 80%. However, if you ask a recruiter or hiring manager about keywords, they’ll tell you that anyone who matches 80% of a job posting was clearly copy/pasting the ad; and that resume will go into the circular file cabinet.


I’ve found that a well-written and pleasingly formatted resume that matches 30+% of the suspected key words and the job posting will probably entice the recruiter to follow up on the resume.


Unfortunately, most job seekers fill their resumes with fluff and stuff it with keywords, expecting recruiters and managers will read it, be impressed, and call them to arrange an interview.


They don’t understand how hiring managers and recruiters don’t want to read your resume.  They are too busy for that. They want to skim it.


Definition: Skim

An act of reading something quickly or superficially.

"a quick skim through the pamphlet"


Remember, most recruiters and hiring managers are very busy; rely on ATS to do the initial processing; and give the resume a quick 6-8 second scan once they actually view it.

When they see fluff, they skip it. When they see keyword stuffing, they don’t like it.


So, stop writing resumes that people must read. Write resumes that are skimable.

Here’s how to do that:


1)      Less is More: Overall, use fewer words. Examine every sentence. Can the idea/thought be expressed more concisely?

2)      Make The Reading Easy: Use short and common words; write straightforward sentences; write shorter sentences.

3)      Design for Easy Navigation: Make key information immediately visible. Separate distinct ideas. Place related ideas together. Order ideas by priority. Include headings.

4)      Use Enough Formatting, but No More: Match formatting to reader expectations. Use highlights, bold, and underline sparingly.

5)      Tell Readers Why They Should Care: Emphasize what the reader expects.


By the way, I based these five steps on principles outlined I the book Writing For Busy People.

Do these things and you will probably receive not only more compliments about your resume, but also invitations to job interviews!

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