To make your resume succeed in landing you the job of your dreams, you must
understand how it will be viewed by employers.
One of the key mistakes you can make is to write your resume solely for the
individual for whom you will work. While this person makes the job offer, he or
she is rarely the first person to see your resume. Instead, your resume passes
through a first layer of individuals and systems that evaluate it and determine
if it even reaches the decision maker.
To insulate yourself from errors and ensure your resume survives the initial
scan requires that you understand and adjust your resume to these key reviewers:
The clerk scan is the evaluation that most resumes receive upon submission. This
individual frequently gives your resume as little as 10 seconds before deciding
whether or not you will be considered. It is critical to make your resume quick
to review by front-loading it with a clear, targeted summary of your unique
selling propositions and supporting key words that detail your core
competencies. This summary funnels the reader into your experience section where
you can provide supporting details.
Key word scan.
This refers to the ocular character recognition (OCR) scanning of your resume
into a database such as Resumix. This is done to better catalog applicant
skillsets. To ensure your resume is scannable, include a keyword section and
avoid fancy styles in your document. This list follows your summary and should
include two to three columns of 12 to 18 key competencies targeted to your
This is the end result you were seeking when you initially submitted your
resume. Your resume is now in a smaller stack of qualified candidates, so it
must stand out visually and clearly qualify and quantify the value you offer.
Start each of your most recent employment positions with a short paragraph
describing the challenges and/or goals you faced. Follow this with the
corresponding position bullets, striving to tell a story of challenge, action,
and result in each one.
As you work to describe your career to date, envision a puzzle assembled to
maximum advantage, not a linear timeline. Look at each piece and place it
precisely so the decision maker can "see" you on paper.
Additionally, watch for common resume killers such as dating yourself with a
lengthy timeline, spelling and grammatical errors, tiny margins and fonts, and
lack of unique selling propositions and achievements.
Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!
Laura DeCarlo is president of Career Directors International and principal of A
Competitive Edge Career Service, LLC, a turnkey resume writing and career
coaching firm. She is degreed with nine industry certifications, has three
published books, and won numerous awards. For more information, visit