It’s a well-known principle that first impressions are lasting. Your resume and cover letter are usually going to be the first impression that an employer has of you. If the resume doesn’t do its job, you won’t be able to move on in the process, and you’ll likely be getting a lot of silence in response from employers.
The resume really is all about the first impression: it is supposed to do nothing more than get you an interview. To do this, it must attract, inform, and persuade. If that isn’t enough, it has to do all of that in less than 10 seconds!
So in keeping that first impression in mind, make sure your resume is NOT:
- A book
- Your memoirs
- Catalogue of problems with past employers
- So filled with text that it’s nearly impossible to read
- An apology or filled with apologies
Some things to keep in mind to make a powerful, positive first impression with your resume:
- Start with a strong heading. I’ve seen resumes where their name is written in the same size and style as the rest of the document. While this is necessary for resumes that will be scanned online, your name and contact information is important and needs to stand out.
- Font has to match your style. Don’t choose an obscure font that another computer might not recognize (unless sending the file in PDF form), or that distracts from your central message. Make it easily readable. Size matters for fonts.
- Create a short but powerful introductory statement. Whether it is a professional summary or an objective statement, it needs to come straight to the point and give the employer an idea of the value you bring.
- The whole resume must be highly targeted to the employer and the employer’s needs. Speak the employer’s language. The person screening your resume is probably got their blinders on and sees only the language they put into the job announcement. If you don’t use their language, your resume may not pop out on their radar.
- Don’t just leap into your work experience. While employers highly value the chronological resumes, it helps to start with a list of relevant qualifications, directly answering how your skills and experience match the job requirements. This makes the 10 second (or less) initial scan or your resume much easier.