Five Steps To A Resume That Makes It Past The Skim Read

Virginia Franco

Five Steps To A Resume That Makes It Past The Skim Read

Resume reading has evolved over the years – in large part thanks to advancements in technology. The reality of job hunting is that recruiters and hiring managers are pressed for time and are inundated with applications sent online.

Where before a reader had the luxury of taking a few minutes to review, today’s readers spend just six to 10 seconds to quickly scan your document. Not a lot of time for your resume to make that critical first impression!

Below are five tips to get your resume past that six-second skim read and into the “keep” pile:

Make it Easy to Read for the Online Reader

Today’s readers are increasingly unlikely to take the time to print out a resume, but rather will skim read on some sort of online screen. Have you ever noticed it is harder to read block text on a screen versus this same text printed out in front of you? This is especially true when reading on a small screen like a handheld device or your mobile phone.

Writing for the online eye means keeping your bullets and paragraphs to one or two lines. Remember that a bullet three lines or longer on paper or a large screen becomes a five or six line bullet on a small screen – not easy for a skim reader.

Be sure to select a sans serif font (i.e. Arial, Calibri) that is easy on the online eye.

Add a Career Title and a Short Branding Paragraph at the Top

Imagine you are in a rush and staring at a newspaper’s front page containing several articles missing headlines and lead paragraphs. When pressed for time you’d likely skip those articles in favor of stories where the headline spoon feeds you this key information. The same is true for resume reading.

Add a short executive branding statement and a career title directly above it on your resume. The career title acts as a headline and the branding statement as the lead paragraph.

Be sure to highlight your value proposition in fewer than five lines. If the reader reads nothing else during the six seconds he/she will have a solid impression of the skills and value you bring to the table.

Tell How You Made a Difference

Ask yourself with each role, “What am I most proud of” and lead off with it.

The skim reader I unlikely to get past the second bullet on the first read, so make sure your crowning achievements are not buried at the bottom under a list of responsibilities.

Keywords, Keywords, Keywords

Skim readers look for keywords and key phrases, as do ATS software programs used by many companies to filter through thousands of resumes.

Browse three or four job postings of interest. Chances are you will find common requirements laced throughout. THESE are your keywords!

Keep it Timeless

Ensure the reader has no sense of how old (or young!) you are. You can accomplish this by synopsizing roles that occurred earlier than 15 years ago and removing dates. Place these older roles under an “Additional Experience” heading and VOILA your resume is timeless.

Don’t forget to remove the dates from when you went to school. Unless you are a recent grad or in the process of completing your degree there is no strategic value in including your graduation year.

About The Author

Virginia Franco

Virginia Franco, NCRW, CPRW is the founder of Virginia Franco Resumes which offers customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker. Her clients secure interviews in 60 days without worksheets or pre-prep.


Join The Discussion - 2 Comments

  1. Yvonne Mwende says:

    Great pointers there. However, I wonder about not including time lines in the resume, is there not a provision for including your date of birth?

  2. Bharani says:

    Great tips Virginia. I would also like to add that it is important to use a professional and elegant design for your resume. Good resume formatting can put your resume ahead of the pack.

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