Not long ago, I spoke to a group of high school students about resume writing. My goal was to help them understand what resumes really are – a tool that allows companies to quickly eliminate people from the application and interview process.
I spoke with some experience, having been the resume screener at several jobs. When the company would run an ad and 200 resumes showed up in response, the first responsibility is to cut that number to something manageable. So I’d spend five to ten seconds with each resume, determining whether it went into the “maybe” pile or the trash.
The key to getting into that “maybe” pile and getting the all-important second look is to think of your resume as a romantic overture. You want to catch someone’s attention in a way that piques his or her interest, but you don’t want to oversell yourself. Your goal at this stage is not to obtain a long-term commitment, but to start a conversation that may lead to one.
So don’t create a book-length resume that goes into tremendous detail about everything you’ve ever done. Focus on the high points and keep your accomplishments up front. Make sure you have clear differentiation. And offer just enough information to raise the screener’s eyebrow and give him or her reason to start that conversation with you.