Make your résumé easy to read if you want to be considered for an interview

I don’t know what’s worse, a résumé that is so dense that it looks like something James Joyce wrote, or so sparse that it looks like a Haiku.

Look, one of the golden rules of writing your résumé is that it has to be easy to read…yet sells you with accomplishments and relevancy. I know this is a tall order but it can be done.

You’ve been told over and over how your résumé is your marketing collateral. Consider reading a brochure that takes you longer than three minutes to complete during the busiest part of your workday. Consider reading a product flyer in a crowded retail store with your kids screaming to leave or wandering off. You only have 30 seconds to get the gist of the product before you decide to explore further.

This is how the employer feels when she reads a résumé to decide if you’ll be considered for an interview. On average an employer will take 15 to 45 seconds deciding whether to invite you in for an interview. The first phase of the résumé review is a quick scan, which means you must make the scanning process as easy as possible for her.

Capturing important information. Keep this general rule in mind when crafting your résumé: do not exceed 4-5 lines per word block. When possible include accomplishments that are quantified with dollars, numbers, and percentages. As quick scans go, these quantifiers will surely draw attention from the employer and entice her to read further. Just glance at the text below to see if it’s something that would be easy to digest in a 15-30 second scan.

Hired to revamp marketing department and turn around declining revenue. Managed 4 employees, including marketing communications writer, graphic designer, and webmaster. Interfaced with members of the media, partners, and consumers; recognized by many for providing excellent customer service. Oversaw more than 10 tradeshows, both organization and attending. Increased number of media contacts from 30 to 6,000 at ABC company within only 4 months. Overall contacts exceeded 30,000. Garnered 20 awards in major trade journals, including “Data Storage Product of the Year,” (5 years in a row) “Product of the Year,” “Editor’s Choice,” and other honors from top trade publications. Placed more than 50 reviews and articles in trade magazines. Designed a 60-page Website and maintained it, while maintaining role of public relations; thus saving the company more than $25,000. Received “Outstanding Employee of the Year” for volunteering to take on this endeavor.

I recently critiqued a résumé that look similar to the above. Now read the same paragraph divided into short word blocks.

Hired to revamp marketing department and turn around declining revenue. Managed 4 employees, including marketing communications writer, graphic designer, and webmaster. Interfaced with members of the media, partners, and consumers; recognized by many for providing excellent customer service. Oversaw more than 10 tradeshows, both organization and attending.

Accomplishments

  • Increased number of media contacts from 30 to 6,000 at ABC company within only 4 months. Overall contacts exceeded 30,000.
  • Garnered 20 awards in major trade journals, including “Data Storage Product of the Year,” (5 years in a row) “Product of the Year,” “Editor’s Choice,” and other honors from top trade publications. Placed more than 50 reviews and articles in trade magazines.
  • Designed a 60-page Website and maintained it, while maintaining role of public relations; thus saving the company more than $25,000. Received “Outstanding Employee of the Year” for volunteering to take on this endeavor.

Do potential employers a favor when crafting your résumé; make it easier to read. Density is one reason employers may decide to place your résumé in the…circular file cabinet.

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