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Should your resume start off with a summary paragraph?Thinking

In a single word: No.

Studies show that you have about six seconds to make an initial impression with your resume. It’s like flipping through a magazine and deciding which articles to read. You’re much more likely to grab and hold a recruiter’s attention with strong words and a simple, powerful format versus a long narrative at the top of the page.

Your resume will be scanned in a Z pattern: across the top, down across the page and then over. So don’t waste the valuable space at the top with a long, “padded” summary statement.

Keep it Simple
Simple and powerful are not mutually exclusive, especially when it comes to your resume. The key is to know the purpose of your resume and tailor it specifically to the job on the table.

Your objective is to pique the interest of a potential employer by using power words – think quality over quantity – to demonstrate how hiring you would add immediate value and impact to their organization. Your resume is a sales tool to promote yourself, with a focus on how you stand out above the competition.

  • A recent survey asked 18 hiring managers what they looked for on resumes. Eleven of the 18 said their first priority was skills and experience that met the needs outlined in the job description. Then, most respondents looked for candidates’ achievements.
  • Use specific examples to showcase your career accomplishments. Include numbers to show value-added results. For example, rather than say that you “implemented a new hire training program,” state that you “led the implementation of a new hire program that resulted in shortening training time frames by five full days.”

Power It Up
Imagine the person who sees your resume for the first time. They’ve been tasked to review possibly hundreds of others along with yours. So unless your resume stands out, chances are it will end up being shredded or deleted. Ouch!

  • Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are on the rise. These software-based platforms screen resumes electronically, looking for keywords. Be sure to populate your resume with verbiage from the job description or posting. (By the way, real live hiring managers will look for pretty much the same thing.)
  • This bullet point is about bullet points! Bullets can make your resume more organized and interesting. In addition to holding the recruiter’s eye, properly structuring your words and details illustrates your strong organizational skills.
  • Make sure it’s well written. The focus must be on your key skills and accomplishments as they pertain to the position. Perfect spelling and grammar are non-negotiable. In addition to using your computer spell check, reread your resume a few times and have one or two trusted friends or colleagues do the same.
  • Keep it professional. Your resume is a business document. It’s not a place for gimmicks, photos or funny email addresses. Create a separate email for your job search if necessary.

Contact the career coaches at PrideStaff Fresno for more tips on perfecting your resume – and optimizing the results of your job search.

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