It’s well documented that people only spend about six seconds looking at each resume they receive. Fortunately, there are also tons of great articles dedicated to making the most out of those six seconds.
Even more fortunately, I’m going to give you the inside scoop from the perspective of a six-second recruiter. First things first, you should know that these professionals have bosses, hiring managers, and senior leaders relying on them to find the best talent in town. Sometimes, they’re competing with other recruiters to fill the same role. Their compensation may even be tied to whether or not the candidate they present ultimately lands the job. That’s a lot of pressure.
So, when a person who’s looking to fulfill a position glances at your resume, she’s not just searching for applicable skills. She’s trying to determine whether or not she can sell other people on your experience.
To illustrate this point, let’s play a little game. Pretend that you’re a manager looking to add a marketing coordinator to your team. Now, imagine that you have two recruiters working on the search and they’re each going to pitch their top candidates to you. Still with me? Great. Now, tell me which candidate you’d rather meet with:
Recruiter A: “My candidate has a degree in marketing and three years of experience in a similar role.”
Recruiter B: “My candidate has two years of marketing experience. In her current role, she implemented a social media strategy that doubled her organization’s total followers. She also worked on a targeted marketing campaign that helped to grow market share by 25%.”
The second option sounds way better, right? That’s because the recruiter told a compelling story about her experience using real-world examples and tangible metrics.
Ultimately, a recruiter is only as good as the candidates she’s able to find. So, when she looks at your resume, she wants to see results, achievements, and key selling points. In other words, she wants to find applicants who will make her look good, who will prove an asset to the company.
So what does all of this mean for you? It might just be time for a resume redo. The easiest, best way to start shifting the way you think about the content is to consider your experience from the perspective of a hiring manager. In short, you want to do everything that you can to make the process straightforward and simple. Remember that pressure we touched upon earlier? It’s up to you to help the person who’s contacted you about a job see that you’re exactly who the company needs (in six seconds or less)!
To get started, pull up your resume and ask yourself the following questions as you read it over:
1. Does My Resume Make it Easy for Recruiters to Sell My Experience and Achievements?
If your most-prized document doesn’t list specifics about these top items, it’s not doing what it’s supposed to be doing. The way to sell yourself and your experience is to make a list of any special projects, goals, or quotas you’ve met, exceeded, or delivered. This isn’t a time for modesty; if you got promoted after nine months, make that—and any other achievement—known. If you gained 50K more subscribers to the company newsletter once you took over, state that explicitly.
2. Does My Content Tell a Compelling Story of My Amazing Accomplishments?
Not only do you want to list stats and achievements using concrete numbers and info whenever possible, but you also want your resume to tell a compelling story of your myriad accomplishments, and to do that, you need context. Were you the top selling regional account executive? Great, but don’t leave out the fact that there are over 60 other account executives in your region. Did you roll out a new CRM system? Be sure to mention that you also evaluated multiple platforms, identified the system most suited to your organization’s needs, and negotiated the contract. Your accomplishments will be best illustrated if you also provide the backdrop for which to showcase them.
3. Have I Included Tangible Metrics to Help Illustrate My Successes?
Your outstanding achievements and notable statistics related to your work effort are most easily digested when you assign a number or result to everything you’ve done of note. Having something that a hiring manager can quickly grasp, especially if it demonstrates your excellence, will help you stand above the rest. So, if you not only met but exceeded your sales goal month to month, you’d have a bullet saying, “Exceeded sales quota by 30%.” If something you did helped the organization cut costs and reach a desired end result sooner, be clear about how all that happened. Don’t just say “Oversaw website redesign,” say, “Completed website redesign two weeks early, resulting in $5,000 cost savings.”
4. Is it Easy to Spot My Key Achievements?
Call out your accomplishments by adding a dedicated “Key Achievements” subsection under each of your jobs or creating a stand-alone “Key Achievements” section on your resume if you don’t feel that you have enough content for every single position you’re listing. The trick, however you decide to do it, is to make these easy to spot without cluttering up your resume. You can bold the words “Key Achievements” or you can consider making your tangible metrics bold; for example, “Created new invoicing system, resulting in a 25% decrease in late payments.”
Ultimately, spending more resume real estate on what you’ve accomplished and focusing less on your day to day responsibilities will pay off. It’s great that you manage your company’s Twitter page but it’s even more impressive that you’ve doubled the number of followers since you took over writing and scheduling tweets. Did you design a training program for your company’s new software rollout? That’s impressive, but mentioning that this program resulted in a 100% increase in user adoptions is what will catch a recruiter’s eye.
Resumes that highlight specific, meaty stats are the ones that catch my attention when I’m scrolling through hundreds of applications. Few things are more meaningful to a person reviewing these materials than featured results, numbers, and key accomplishments. Homing in on what yours are and refining them so that they stand tall is what’s going to get you noticed—not the fact that you are responsible for answering prospective client inquiries or that you belonged to the Environmental Club and were a member of Phi Beta Kappa sorority. You’ve worked hard, now’s the time to show it off.
Jaclyn Westlake worked as an agency recruiter and an HR manager in the startup, tech, and finance space for nearly 10 years before branching out into resume writing, freelance recruiting, and career advising. These days, you can find her sharing job search insights on The Muse and blogging about boat life on The Wife Aquatic. She's also an avid paddleboarder, proud plant-based eater, and doting dog mom to a 10-year old dachshund mix named Indiana Jones.More from this Author