Saturday, October 07, 2006

Your Resume is Read for 15 Seconds on Average

If I could give only one bit of advice for writing a resume, it would be that most employers read a resume for 15 seconds (or at least make a decision within 15 seconds). This is a resume's job--to advocate you as a strong candidate during those 15 seconds. It's not about how much information your resume has on it--it's about how well it conveys important information. It's often the case that the only time a resume is read in its entirety is before an interview by the interviewer. At this point you are going to engage with the employer face-to-face; the resume has done its job. You can expand on any point in your resume in person.

A good exercise is to list 10 things you definitely want someone to know about you within those 15 seconds. For example, this may include that you worked for company A, that you had leadership role B, that you stand out from other students because of C, and the like. It can be very effective to test the 15-second rule with co-workers, friends, and family. Hand someone your resume and then snatch it away from them after 15 seconds. Then ask them what they learned about you. If they don't mention the most important points you want to get across then you know what needs to be highlighted, bolded, reformatted and so forth. White space around text can also prove to be a useful way to emphasize a point.