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Resume Science Part 1

As professional recruiters, we see more than our fair share of resumes. The resume is still the most used and direct way for recruiters (and hiring managers) understand a job seeker’s skills and experience. It is a critical tool for you have for a job search and should not be taken lightly – successfully getting the job you want in a timely manner depends on it. This is our first post in a series (to get the whole series, go to and sign up for content) covering resumes.

This installment will be covering what a resume is supposed to be for – and knowing that, how you need to design it for to accomplish that goal.

What is a resume for?

To get you to an interview.

Nothing more, nothing less. Most people overthink it - and try to make it an autobiography.

Think of a resume as a rocket – it needs to perform in three stages to get you to orbit, aka, an interview.

The first stage is the liftoff.

If you are applying to an online job post, your resume will be one of potentially thousands of other applicants. Nobody will look at them all. Instead, the company HR will do a key-word search to narrow it down to a reasonable number of resumes to actually review. If they are using software to match candidates to jobs, most matching algorithms are based on keyword comparisons, not some in-depth comparison of your career history. To get out of the gravitational pull of the applicant tracking system, you need to make sure you have the right keywords in your resume that reflect the position you are applying for. Start with the job description - if there is a "must have" section make sure a lot of those words are in your resume. Use both the acronyms and spell out the long form. Don't forget software systems you are familiar with as well as those are often the key words used to search.

The second stage is the boost phase.

Once your resume has made the first cut, now it needs to get past the second cut - usually done by someone in the HR department or recruiter working to fill the position. The person doing the initial screen of resumes mostly likely will only have a basic understanding of the position and not be an expert on the skills and terminology. Your resume needs to be written so that a layman can understand what you have done up to this point without patronizing. If it’s jammed with only with acronyms and industry-specific jargon with no explanation, you will not get past this stage. While you might need the acronyms to fulfill the keywords, be sure to spell out and explain their meaning. From here, you will either do an initial screening interview with HR or your resume will go on to the next stage – the hiring manager.

The third and final stage is to get you into the right orbit.

This is the most critical part of your resume’s performance up until this point. The hiring manager will review and decide to if you are worth bringing in for an interview. To end up in the “yes” pile of resumes, yours needs to cover two things: the what, and the wow. The “what” explains the scope and magnitude of your current and previous positions. For example: “responsible for a team of five outside sales representatives and over $10M in annual revenue across three states.” The “wow” is what you were able to accomplish with the “what” - in bullets beneath each job. If you illustrate your roles and successes well, a hiring manager will be able to see your potential in doing the job they need you to do and bring you in for an interview.

Once you have made it to the interview, your resume has done its job and now its your turn to do yours – get them to fall in love with you and give you an offer.

In our next resume post, we’ll cover how to best format your resume – so stay tuned!

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