Education Career Services

January 28, 2010

How Hiring Managers Read Résumés

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; Hiring Managers DON’T read résumés… at least not initially.  If they’re actively looking for a candidate, they have a ton of résumés to go through.  If they are not, they have other work to do.  Either way, they won’t give a lot of time to reading, so they skim to make a first determination.

First, an effort will be made. A hiring manager will read the top line beneath the contact information. YOU MUST IMPRESS HERE.  “Seeking employment with a progressive company” isn’t the way to go (that’s understood).  Opt for a branding statement illuminating your value to the company.  They’ll read just until they get the gist of the statement (so keep them short).

Then their eye drifts down the page. GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO SEE!  Snag the eye with VALUE.  Use Bold (sparingly), Small Caps (even more sparingly) highlighting QUANTIFIED accomplishments (the WOW factor), and the Hiring Manager will stop to read.  If it’s relevant to their needs, they’ll look for other relevant accomplishments.

The top half of your résumé should be so strong (lots of WOW) that they make their decision to call you before dropping to the career history.  This decision may not be fully conscious yet, it may just be a favorable impression, an eyebrow-raised “hmmmm!”

In the career history they will either look at the company name or the position title, whichever is more prominent.  LEAD WITH THE POSITION TITLE; that says more about you than the company name.  They will look at ALL of the titles first, then go back and cherry pick through the descriptions, looking for relevant key words (numbers will snag attention, too).  Chances are they won’t read all the way through, but they will mine the document for relevancy.

This being true, organize the top of the document carefully, drawing the eye to what needs to be seen.  Don’t over-structure the career history descriptions.  Simple bullets work well.

Submission by Robert Swanson
Career Services International


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