Free Resume Training – Section IV
What’s in This Section
- You’re a Teacher
- You’re Not Going to Lie
- You Have Only a Few Seconds to Make Your Impact
- Are You Ready to Write?
Remember you’re a teacher. Your job in creating this resume is to teach and instruct the hiring manager, the recruiter, whoever it is that is looking at your resume about what you’re capable of. You’re not going to tell any lies at all, ever, in your entire resume.
You’ve only got a few seconds to make that impact. So now we know all this stuff, are we ready to sit down and write? Not quite yet, and the reason is we want to know how people are actually going to be reading and going through our resume.
This is a very important thing that we have to deal with here and there is actually a lot of studies that break down how people behave when they sit down to read something. If we can take that information and apply it to the document that we’re going to create with this resume, then we can maximize the possibility of us being able to get that interview. Because the things that are on our resume actually end up getting read now.
All of our resume, most of the time is not going to get read, it’s sad but true. And I know you’re going to spend all kinds of time structuring this, but it’s really not going to happen.
So we have to take and create or structure the resume so that the most important things, we try to make sure that at least those get read. Now, once an interview is actually conducted, it’s a very good possibility that the resume does get read in its entirety, especially by HR staff.
But at that point, you’ve already jumped through a whole bunch of hoops, the resume has at least, and it’s made it through the 10-second scan and the 30-second scan, and now it’s down to you actually getting an interview.
But a lot of resumes, most of them in fact, get weeded out way before that because they weren’t structured in the right way to make that impact when they only had that ten seconds to do it.
The Science of Reading
So let’s take a look at reading as a science. Fixations are these little movements that your eyes go through and you’ll notice as you read the screen right now, as you read, your eye doesn’t really have a fluid motion, it skips around from point to point. That’s how we read.
So a fixation is a brief movement of the eye and it jumps from one spot to the next. You might read three or four words per fixation.
So every time your eye moves a little bit, you read some words and then you move again. What’s that based on, the three or four words? It’s based on how complicated the words are. If the words are very complicated, if the structure and the reading’s difficult then we might just read one word per fixation.
So simple reading means we’d get to read more words per fixation and each one of those fixations takes up about a quarter of a second. So here’s what we are faced with. We can structure our resume according to the averages that people are able to read. We can structure our resume to allow for more words to be read in the same amount of time, or we can make it where less words are read because it’s difficult.
Which one do we want to do? Of course we want to get more words read. Two hundred to a thousand words per minute is average and that depends on the reading difficulty. If the words are complex, if the structure is difficult, so easier reading sentences will get more read in the same amount of time. And remember how long do you have? When they do the 10-second scan, ten seconds, right? Ten to fifteen seconds.
So in that ten seconds, they’re going to read either twenty or one hundred words. That’s based on being able to read either two hundred or 1000 words per minute. Which would you rather them do? You want to give them as many words as possible, right?
Well, if your resume is difficult to read, then you totally just limited yourself. You cut off the potential because you made it so complex that they could only digest 20 words in that ten to fifteen seconds, that’s a bad idea, right?
Do you want to give them twenty words or do you want to give them a hundred words? You can say five times as much if you structure things where it’s easy for them to read, so you have to be able to take into account what it is that you want to say and relate it to them very, very quickly with the most impact.
Let’s talk about maximum impact.
Short words equal more comprehension. Long words equal low comprehension, except for the word comprehension, which obviously you know what that means, right? Well no, seriously, in your resume shorter words are a lot easier for people to understand and actually go down to a depth.
So if you use shorter words, they’re going to be able to read more. Like for example, short words, that phrase right there takes up less space than comprehension. So if I’m talking about those fixations jumping around, well somebody could fixate on short and read words at the same time, that’s two words.
They could even do a third one there possibly depending on what the word is, but the word comprehension, that might have to get read with one fixation. So that wastes the ability to download into their brain some more information at one fixation. That’s the kind of thing that we’re talking about.
Short blocks of text, and that’s again more comprehension, long blocks of text, low comprehension. These big chunks of text, they do nothing but discourage people.
Seriously, no more than four lines in a block of text, three is even better. Because if you go to five, most of the time when the eye sees that, the brain’s going to go, you know what? I don’t really have time for this right now let’s move on to something else.
That can be detrimental to you, especially if there was something very critical about your abilities in those lines.
You squeeze so much in there that you make it five lines and then they skip right over it and don’t read it. And that’s a fact folks, these people are really busy and they don’t have time to go through a whole bunch of stuff.
Their whole mentality is I want to as much as possible, get through these resumes and find the ones with candidates that I might be interested in. So they’re by no means looking for excuses to read more.
Keep Things Simple
For maximum impact with lasting impression what do you want to do? You want to keep things simple. Don’t make it elaborate. Don’t go for any outlandish designs or layouts and don’t try to impress them with an incredible vocabulary. Keep it simple and that’s going to actually relate the information in such a way that it makes an impact.
If I’m a teacher and I teach high school students, I might be competent enough to teach college level students. I might be able to teach a graduate class, I might be able to give a lecture to my peers.
If however, I can’t bring it down to a high school level then I can’t teach a high school student because I’m going to be relating stuff to them that is not going to make a lasting impression. In other words, they won’t actually learn.
I could be telling them great information and someday when they get to that level, fantastic. But when they’re a high school student, they can’t handle it. So you must be able to break it down to their level.
Remember that the hiring manager’s ultimate goal is to weed out resumes? That also goes for the recruiter or the HR personnel. They’re not looking for an excuse to add one or more resumes to the interview list. They want as few as possible because interviews, face to face interviews, cost money.
Start Out Strong
Start out strong right out of the gate, that makes a first impression and they’re going to assume that you’re going to be strong throughout.
That is actually a great way to take advantage of their assumptions if you start out real strong and they’re like, OK, you got my attention. Even if they don’t read the rest of the resume, they’ve probably read enough that they decided to go ahead and put you in the stack to keep.
It’s kind of like when you’re going out to buy a new house, right? And you pull up on the driveway and the house looks great. OK, so first impression, you’re pretty happy. If you pull up and the house looks kind of run down and shabby, you’re not going to pull up anyway and go inside, maybe the kitchen’s nice.
You know you’re not going to be interested because it’s a turnoff from the initial get go from faraway. Your resume is the same thing, it’s got to make a strong impression right up front.
They’re going to judge you and your resume based on that initial appearance and by appearance I’m talking about not even reading stuff that’s on the resume. Just when they look at it, how is it laid out? Does it seem like all the text is jumbled together in these big, humongous chunks and paragraphs that my mind doesn’t even want to deal with right now?
Or is it laid out in such a way that makes it real simple for me to look at stuff and at a glance I can take in whole thoughts just with one little fixation. That’s what our ultimate goal is.
Checklist for Resume Writing
Here’s a checklist that I want you to go through as you get ready to sit down and write your resume. You want to make sure when you’re all finished that you have done all of this and make any necessary edits.
First be strong, very strong in the top third of page one, that will give you that curb appeal. Just like we were talking about the house, in the top third of the page, you hit them real hard.
You’ve got keywords in there, you’ve got no career objective, those are so lame. They’re nothing but me, me, me, me, me. Do you think a hiring manager cares about your career objectives? I don’t even know how that started because no hiring manager cares about what you’re interested in doing in your career, they’re really not.
They’re interested in how you’re going to solve their problems, their company’s problems. Customize the resume to their needs. So as you read through, let’s say you got the resume done, you’re at number two here, customize it to their needs.
Look through there and see, when I did my research and I wrote down things about the company, what they’re dealing with, what they’re looking to do, the direction they’re going. Have I dealt with any of that in this resume? If not, you need to go back and make corrections.
Avoid fancy stuff, you know, weird fonts and all kinds of stuff that would just be distracting on the page. Is there anything out of date? If it’s out of date, leave it out. I know, I know you spent all that time and you went to hours and hours of some school back in 1965 and it was a great accomplishment for you and I’m proud of you.
However, today it’s probably not going to be relevant. Because the fact is that they probably don’t even do things that way anymore. Whatever it is that you went to is probably so out of date, there’s no point of doing it.
Yeah if you won the Nobel Peace Prize, go ahead and put that in there, but you need to incorporate some stuff that shows that I am current, like I’m still an excellent chemist.
For example, whatever you won the Nobel Peace Prize for, but unless you won that Nobel peace prize, if it’s just other accomplishments that you’ve done that are way out of date and I’m talking like more than ten years, don’t put it in there because it’s not going to do you any good. And it’s just taking up space.
Make impact statements first. So in other words, I wouldn’t say started at the bottom, working as a technician and developed sales relationships, moving up into a sales position within two years and sold five hundred and twelve thousand dollars-worth of equipment. That makes the impact statement last.
And the thing is if you put so much information in there, they might get to that paragraph, that block of text, start reading it and get totally bored and move on and they might not even read the real impact statement. So what you would do with that is redo it. List the impact first, sold over five hundred thousand dollars-worth of merchandise in my first year at sales.
Eliminate things that are really irrelevant and put things in there that are going to show them, this is what I am capable of actually doing.
Does my resume use their terminology?
When I did my research, when I did my phone call, am I using the specific kinds of words to describe the position in the industry that they like to use? You want to make sure that you’re doing that. Bottom line is you’re not going to go to a foreign country and speak your own language and expect to get really good results.
You’re going to go there and you’re probably going to carry one of those little books around with you, one of those little dictionaries, right? And if there’s something that you have to say to somebody, you’re going to look up the word in the dictionary, translate it, and say it in their language.
That’s the only way you can expect them to understand. Same thing here. Yeah, the jobs might be the same, the actual work that they would have you do is the same as what you’ve done in the past, but the terminology is what’s going to relate that to them that this is the same job.
Then you want to review and edit the entire resume and have it proof read by somebody else. Believe it or not, there are hiring managers that instruct their assistant to go through the resumes and regardless of content, regardless of qualifications, eliminate any resumes with spelling or grammatical errors.
All over the world, all kinds of businesses, these hiring managers will simply toss your resume because you spelled wrong.
We’re not perfect, right? We’re all human beings and in a very real sense, we make mistakes, but you do not want to make a mistake on your resume.
Types of Resumes
Let’s look at resume types, and this is going to be the last part of this section. There are three basic types.
We have the reverse chronological. This is probably the most popular, the one that you’re most familiar with. It simply lists your history of jobs with the most present job being first, and then you go back from there.
Then we have the functional resume. This focuses more on what you did, not so much when you did it. A lot of times though with this type, it’s used to cover up lapses of employment, like when you just decided to live on the beach in California for a year, or Baha Mexico.
I should say with this, the functional type of resume, hiring managers kind of know that is what people use it for, because it’s real good for covering up those kinds of things.
The only thing I would suggest you use this type of resume is if there’s a particular job that normally does have a pretty high turnover rate, so it’s not that big of a deal that you weren’t working or that you worked there for four months and then moved onto something else. Other than that though, you would not want to use a functional resume.
A combination resume starts out as a functional resume and then it ends up as a reverse chronological. And even that one, I would say don’t use it because a lot of hiring managers just don’t like that format. Simply because they know, like even if they really go through it, if you send them a functional resume or a combination, they’ll assume that there’s something wrong or something that you’re trying to hide.
Then if they can’t find it, they’ll just assume that they just can’t find it, but that there is something there that’s not quite right.
So for the most part, do you want to use reverse chronological? Yes, that’s the way to go. If you have big gaps in your work history, that’s going to throw up a red flag, it just is. And that’s why a lot of people don’t like to use that style. But if that’s the case, you just feature something in there that you did that was constructive during that time.
Maybe you were a volunteer, maybe you might have lost your job, you might have just decided to quit and you had some spare time on your hands, so you went and volunteered at some local community effort. It doesn’t really matter the motivation behind it, but if you can show that you did do something constructive during that time, that will really help.
What about the number of pages for your resume? This is like a big controversial thing as far as I’m concerned. The only question is one or two pages, never ever over two. Even if you are going for a senior position, most people, if they see a resume over two pages, they assume that you are very amateur and do not know what you’re doing.
Most of the time you’re going to stick with one. Especially if you just got out of college. You don’t have a whole lot of experience. You’re just going to go with one. If you do have a lot of experience and you’re going for a senior position then two pages maximum, never over.
This is something that’s fairly new, but with interactive it’s an online deal and you could put links in your resume. They’re online, you can put audio and video, which is pretty slick. But you want to be careful with those, this is supplemental information.
It should not just be a duplicate of your hard copy resume that you sent in. So if you sent them in a resume and then you just have a pdf version online, that’s a waste of time.
If however there is something that you can showcase on that online version maybe you need to relate to them your personality and you can do that in a video, then absolutely yes. But ask yourself, am I just doing this because it’s kind of neat to do or am I really providing something that I couldn’t provide in that hard copy?
Another nice thing with the interactive is, if you did a project, let’s say you did a web design project, it’s real convenient and easy to put a little link there so they can click on it and go check it out.
Bullets and Blocks
The length of your bullets and blocks. This is pretty critical with the layout because this is what people are going to make decisions on whether to read your resume or not, sad but true. People are not going to read the entire resume right? We want to kind of focus them in on specific areas and hopefully they get the highlights.
The way that we do that is by keeping the bullets and blocks in simple bite sized chunks. That’s the goal here, nothing big and long. Remember, no more than four lines in a block, no more than four or five bullet points in one block. I recommend whenever you have a block of text, like if you have a block of four lines for example, your bullet points should be four or less.
The reason is when people read something like that, they expect for the bullet points to be something much more concise. And if the bullet points, if there’s a number of bullet points that totally offset the block, then it kind of looks like it’s lopsided.
Also, don’t do just one single bullet point, it looks kind of cheesy. Make sure you’ve got at least two. So two, three or four bullet points is really going to be the maximum that you’re going to use.
You can structure those in such a way that it relates to the information that you wanted to get across. If there’s something else that you want to say, figure out if you can do another block of text and then support that with some bullet points.
That is the layout stuff that I want to give you and you need to keep this in the back of your mind as you’re going through development of your resume.
If we apply these strategies, then we make it easier for them to digest and comprehend exactly what it is that we’re saying. And that gives us a competitive edge in getting our resume selected for an interview.
- The New Job Market
- Resumes Are a Teaching Tool
- Resumes Must Meet the Need
- Resumes Must Be Truthful
- Who Is Your Student?
- Resume Research
- Where Does Your Resume Go?
- 10-Second Scan
- 30-Second Scan
- Hidden Agenda
- You’re a Teacher
- You’re Not Going to Lie
- You Have Only a Few Seconds to Make Your Impact
- Are You Ready to Write?
- Contact Info