Two things we hear about resumes:
Both of these statements can apply equally to newspapers and resumes. Resumes are treated a lot like newspapers: They are skimmed first and read only if the reader is interested in something he or she skims.
Resumes, like newspapers, are laid out to capture interest and provide details on each story. Using this analogy, each job you've had and that is listed on your resume is like a front-page newspaper story.
Try evaluating your resume using the newspaper analogy. This can help evaluate how much interest your resume is likely to generate. Fold your resume in half, horizontally, like a broadsheet newspaper (i.e., not a tabloid, like the New York Post or National Enquirer). Read only the top half of your resume, or "above the fold" in newspaper lingo.
Does the top half of your resume highlight your core skills, industry experience, knowledge, and talents to encourage the reader to read further? If not, you'll need to reorganize the top half of your resume so there are enough highlights about you to capture the reader's attention and get him or her to read more.
To capture the reader's interest using only the top half of your resume, try adding a "Professional Summary" near the top that highlights your most outstanding abilities and skills. The rest of your resume can elaborate on the dimension of your experience. The purpose of the "Professional Summary" is to succinctly communicate your strengths and uniqueness. Even if you have very little experience, you can use a "Summary" to highlight abilities you have demonstrated through volunteer and life experience.
How to jump-start writing your Professional Summary:
First, write out the top three business skills you possess. For example, if you're in sales, your list might include outbound sales skills, selling of professional services and experience in the medical device industry. These are your hard skills.
Second, write down three words that describe you. For example, you might describe yourself as analytical, action-oriented, and persistent. These are your soft skills.
Then, in your professional summary, provide a few accomplishments from your experience where you demonstrated your hard and soft skills. For example, your summary might read like the following.
PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY: Three years of outbound sales achievements selling professional services to the medical device, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries. Recognized as a persistent, action-oriented sales professional with an innate ability to analytically resolve complex problems rapidly to ensure sales success and smooth internal operations.
• Achieved 110% sales quota performance the last 3 quarters.
• Recognized for turning around an at-risk major account into a sat-
isfied customer by resolving a complex, long-standing open issue.
That's your "top story," or, what you want your readers to jump to first. Next comes your second most important story. If you're using the reverse chronological resume format, this will be your current or most recent position, when your tenure began (and ended, if applicable), and your top accomplishments. In essence, you're telling the reader what you've done lately, which may serve as the most important indicator of the value you bring to your potential new employer.
Does the resume-newspaper analogy work for you? Share your thoughts with us.