“Son you’ve got 8 seconds to tell me why I should hire you.”
“Six seconds left…”
Sounds like the dialogue from some cheesy film from the sixties, or a who-dunnit novel only we’d have to substitute the word, ‘hire’ with ‘let you live’.
This isn’t however some novel or television movie; nor is it from the past. No, this is the reality for many job seekers when someone in the hiring company is looking over a resume – in the absence of the job seeker themselves mind – and it’s today’s reality. This 8 second minimum look of course is the first perusal; the quick scan to see if your application is worth more of their valuable time. Of course before this 8 second look over, it may have already had to get past the computer scan the employer put the resume through to even get this brief look.
If you don’t think that the employer is being entirely fair with this quick once-over of your resume, think again. Yours of course isn’t the only one they have to look at. There may well be 75 resumes or more all nicely arranged in a pile on his or her desk to go through. This person has a responsibility to find, interview and hired the very best person from the numerous ones before them.
Now to aid in this selection process and narrow down the choices, companies are turning to technology. Employers these days want to interview the cream of the crop; the best of all those who applied. How they use technology to help themselves starts before the first resume is even received. They start the selection process by identifying exactly what the very best candidate would have to have in order to be hired for the job they are posting.
The folks in Human Resources -who may in on the interviews with the actual Supervisor or Manager – speak with those in the Department where the new hire will work to get a clear idea of both the mandatory and desirable skills, qualifications and experience being sought. These make up the guts of the job posting; in other words the posting will clearly state in not so many words, “If you want to be selected for an interview, these are the things we’ll be looking for on your resume. The more you have, the better your chances.
Yes it’s these key words and phrases that the company will then program into the ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) system in order to divide the resumes into those that fail to mirror the posting, and those which are closest to the ideal applicant. This latter group gets the interviews while the first group is passed over.
So now, out of the ones that have been selected as most mirroring the posting, the human eye balls now scan. We’re still not talking about three or four resumes. No the initial parsing or widdling down has still given the employer quite a number to go through. So they do what you and I would most likely do. They look at these resumes, and they look at the other work they’ve got to get done. After all, interviewing job applicants is only one thing on their to-do list. There’s a lot of work to get done so they want to economize their time going through these resumes.
In minimizing the time spent reading resumes of hopeful job seekers, they still recognize the need to select the best of the best to interview. That 8 second preliminary look just does one thing; “I like so I’ll read more” vs. “Not impressed – No thanks.”
Now when you compare the amount of time you put into making your resume vs. the time someone is taking to read it over, it hardly seems fair – unless of course you get the call inviting you in for the interview. So knowing this process, it makes sense to put your best effort into making the resume easy to read, and putting your key strengths and best features right up near the top of the resume so the reader doesn’t have to dig or hunt for the core qualifications.
Constructing your resume with what you can do for them, rather than what you want them to do for you is the key. It’s like you’re saying, “Let’s get right down to it. Here’s what I’m going to do for you; here’s the solution to your problem.” If you can hook them in the opening few lines and with each bullet in your Qualifications section you annunciate your qualifications that match what they want in their job posting, you’ve got a shot at moving on.
The resumes that scream, “I’m looking for…”, “I want to work for a company that…”, “Seeking a position where I can…” that immediately get rejected. It’s not about you and what you want – never has been. It’s always been and continues to be about what you will actually do for the company in the position they are advertising for. Are you solving their problem, filling a need of theirs or missing the point entirely and talking about what you’re looking for?
Oh and use their language please. Don’t refer to clients if they use the term residents or customers. Extract what’s in the job posting and mirror it in your resume. You’ll find you attract more attention and move to the interview stage.