June 22, 2021

Resume Writing: How To Impress Someone in 7 Seconds Or Less


Resumes: No one likes writing them, and no one really likes reading them either. The Six-Second Rule is real (but it’s actually seven seconds now, I guess that’s an improvement).

The only thing more boring than writing a resume? Writing a how-to post on resumes. But after conducting a couple of hundred career counseling sessions over the past few weeks, we are getting consistent feedback that people need help here.

There are thousands of pieces already written, diving into the minutia of Resume Writing 101. So let’s not reinvent the wheel here. Here are our 4 takeaways.

1. Get resume feedback from people that actually do hiring in your field
Resumes are incredibly subjective.  If you ask 100 different people to give you resume advice, you’ll get 100 different answers.  So don’t ask 100 people for feedback – it will drive you crazy. Ask 2-3 people that are experts in the space.  It could be a leader in your field that is involved in the hiring process at their company. It could be recruiters.  But find people that are involved in hiring every day. They’ll know works and what doesn’t.

At the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is that of the person who’s reading it. And that will be different, every time.  With that said….

2. Tailor your resume to the role that you are applying for
Since resume advice is all over the place, why limit yourself to one version of your resume?  In most cases, it’s pretty easy to know what the hiring manager wants to see: it’s in the job description.

<holding my hands out wide> This is the wide range of things you’ve done in your career.

<holding my hands narrow> This is the narrow range of things that are emphasized in the job description.

If there are things in the job description that you’ve done, be sure to emphasize those points in your resume.  

What about if you are looking at several types of roles?  We talk to a lot of people that have diverse work experience or have worn a lot of hats.  That can be really frustrating when applying to companies that are very specific with the roles they are hiring for.  Our suggestion is to have different versions of your resume, tailored towards each type of role.

3. The goal: get through the filter
A resume is no different than marketing or sales collateral. You need it to interest the buyer (a hiring manager or recruiter in this situation) enough to move you forward onto the shortlist for their role.

An effective resume will get you an interview; it won’t get you the job. You have to do that. Having real conversations (i.e. interviews) is what will get you hired.

Resumes exist to give companies the ability to filter through the hundreds of applications they receive. It just isn’t feasible to talk to everyone. That’s the harsh reality of it.  In an ideal situation, you won’t be blindly applying to resumes online (more on this next week). If you don’t have someone advocating on your behalf, you’ll need your resume to sell your experience.

So the ideal resume is simple: it says exactly what the hiring manager wants to see, and it doesn’t say what the hiring manager wants to avoid.  

But wait…how the hell do I do that?

4. Data-driven storytelling 
A frequent reason why resumes get passed over: the reader can’t tell how in-depth someone’s experience is. You may have the skills they’re looking for, but the context isn’t well articulated on the page.

People remember stories, and numbers add context. Going beyond just listing your responsibilities by highlighting project examples and successes, along with any related metrics, is the best way to burn your experience into the reader’s memory.

Think of things in terms of volume, frequency, quotas, growth, cost savings, or scale.

BTW – please spell check.  You’d be surprised how many resumes have typos. Hope this helps and we’ll be back next week with how to optimize your Linkedin profile.

There’s obviously a lot more that goes into creating a strong resume, and we’re happy to provide one-on-one assistance. We’re offering 2 sessions of our Executive Candidate Marketing service at no charge currently, click here to get in touch.

If you have any other questions or would like to chat more, feel free to reach me at james@hirewell.com or find me on LinkedIn.

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