Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Sweet Spot for Resumes

This is a great blog post by Lynne Murray, who describes effective use of use of “Resume Real Estate”. Lynne gets that effective resumes put the sizzle at the top, and heavily customize resumes to fit the specific opportunity the applicant is applying for.

The Sweet Spot for Resumes
In sports and a variety of other activities from bridge building to nose piercing,
the sweet spot is the point in the middle where impact will have optimal effectiveness. In resumes the sweet spot is the place to put your strongest information. This magic spot is at the top of your resume right under your name and contact information.

Some resume formats label this area Goals or Objectives, while others may focus on Skills, Accomplishments or Experience. In some academic Curriculum Vita, Education will be featured first. No matter what the heading, if the right words are there, your resume has a better chance of getting a more careful reading.

The cold, hard truth behind this is that the person scanning your resume will begin looking at that top section, and may not go further. How to get them to read the rest and schedule an interview is the next question to consider.

What information should go in that top section? The current estimate is that each resume may be scanned for six seconds or less by human resources, even less time if the company involved is having resumes scanned by a software program. Computers are only speeding up the same process that employers and their personnel screeners have been doing for decades—searching for a few specialized phrases.

These are the words you want to put in the sweet spot at the top of your resume. In order to customize your resume for each job application, consider two factors:

  1. What the employer wants--the ad you are answering should answer this question and provide useful words and phrases.
  2. What you are offering in terms of experience, skills or accomplishments that demonstrate how you can do the job being offered, and how your goals and objectives will add value to the employer.

Using the sweet spot can simplify the task of tailoring a resume to a variety of different sorts of jobs, because only that small segment of the resume may need to be changed in order to focus more closely on the job/employer you are targeting.

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