May 15, 2017
Tips and Tricks to Write An Attention Grabbing Resume

The cornerstone of any job search is the resume. Even in today’s digital world, it is the document that will get your foot in the door. Consider it your golden ticket, your admission to the employment party, your backstage pass to meet the movers and the shakers who run the show. In short, it’s the key to unlocking that door to future employment possibilities. Clearly, it is critical.

But how critical are the details in said resume? Does anyone really notice if you are consistently beginning each bullet point with an action word? How important is it to use the Oxford comma? Will anyone care if your word choices are varied and reflect your knowledge of an online thesaurus?

Honestly? Not really.

You can spend hours wordsmithing and perfecting your resume, but unless you’re applying for a job where writing is a fundamental requirement, you could probably spend your time elsewhere. Generally speaking, recruiters and hiring managers simply don’t have the time to notice that level of detail.

As a recruiter, I definitely appreciate a nicely worded resume almost as much as I do that perfect pair of stilettos that can go from the boardroom to the barroom. (Note: these are both few and far between.) That wording, though, likely won’t impact whether I contact you for a job. If you demonstrate pride in your work and comfort with technology with good formatting that doesn’t get in the way of the message, and you show attention to detail with consistent punctuation, I’ll likely overlook a lot of the rest.

I know you don’t want to hear this, but recruiters and hiring managers are incredibly busy (aren’t we all?).  I’ve been in the industry long enough to  say that you get about 10 seconds of someone’s time to make a good enough impression to read on. And that might be a generous estimation.

Those 10 seconds are spent scanning. We skim for keywords in your executive summary at the top of the page. We scan for your employer names to indicate industry fit. We look at your job titles. We check out your employment start/end dates in each role. And we look at your education.

That’s it. Ten well-spent seconds that give me enough to know if I should read on.

Once you’ve gotten my attention, I’ll read the details. But trust me when I tell you, I won’t put nearly as much thought into it as you have. I won’t notice that you proudly only used “facilitated” or “initiated” or “spearheaded” once. I also probably won’t notice that you used the same action word to begin two separate bullets in the same summary. What I will notice is you making yourself sound more important than you are (please don’t), or if you included any measurable accomplishments in your tenure (please do), or if you used “project managed” as a verb (please for the love of all that’s good and beautiful, do not do that!).

I’ll also notice if you took the time to include a description (or at least web address) of the companies that have employed you. That shows me that you respect my time and understand that industry fit is important. Pretty please with sugar on top, do this!

We all have limited time. Be sure to use yours wisely. I recommend budgeting it in the following ways:

  • Spend your time researching companies who might be a good match for your skills, interests, and personality.

  • Invest some brain power into writing a really good executive summary that tells me who you are and why I should meet you.

  • Focus your energy on making industry connections with strong descriptions that show me you get it.

  • And please delete the archaic “objective” if you still have one at the top of the page. Believe me, I know what your objective is: you want a new job!

I am the gatekeeper between you and your dream job. Follow this advice and you’ll be a little bit closer to having a resume that may just resemble the right key.  

Happy Hunting!

Tasha Schlake Festel is a Talent Acqusition Manager for startups in Boston. You can follow her on Twitter here.