When it comes to resumes and cover letters, you only have about 6-10 seconds to stand out. Seriously? 6-10 seconds? As my 4 year-old son Max would say, “that’s crazy pants!” While I agree with Max, that’s the reality of the situation.
That said, how can you effectively and efficiently communicate your Unique Selling Proposition (aka USP – to learn more click here) in such a short time? You must show the most important aspects about you and why you’re a great fit for the company. Your resume needs to demonstrate what sets you apart from the rest of the pile.
Basically, if you had to explain why you’re the perfect fit for any one role in a brief elevator ride (hence the term elevator pitch), what would you say?
Recruiters have a TON of applications on their plate. And get more and more every single day. They’re dealing with between 30-300 applications for each and every job opening, which is simply an unreasonable amount of resumes for any one person to sift through (even with the help of an Applicant Tracking System).
The fact is, the recruiter is skimming your resume, not reading it. While this is not necessarily fair, it is the reality of how things work in today’s breakneck economy. Until we come up with a better system, people looking for work (like you) have to learn how to outsmart the system and get noticed.
As for your Cover letter, they might not even look at it at all.
The recruiter’s job is to look for those little bits of information that make you stand out as a potentially perfect fit for the open position. To help get the attention of the recruiter, I always recommend using concise bullets on your resume not long paragraphs or dense content. If a recruiter sees a giant block of text, I can promise you 95% of the time they’re not reading it. They simply do not have the time.
So do them a favor and make that information easy to read, digest, and process. Give them only the most important, and most memorable points — succinctly. Outline exactly what you have done in the past and how that work and those accomplishments will help their company by hiring you.
Help them help you – Use your resume to give the recruiter the necessary ammunition that will allow them to explain why you’re a great candidate for the open position.
If it’s important information, then it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s seen. In addition to bullets, recruiters like to see things in short bursts of information. So if you can’t keep it all in bullet form, consider brief paragraphs (2-4 sentences max). Bold keywords or phrases that are directly relevant to the position you are applying to. The goal is to make it easy for the recruiter to see and pluck relevant information from your resume and present it in a way that makes you a candidate they want to interview.
Having worked with thousands of job seekers and their resumes for more than 17 years, I know what gets resume results. Be succinct in your messaging! Make sure your resume articulates the 3-5 things that are crucial for the recruiter to know about you so they’ll want to convince the hiring manager that you are worthy of an interviewing. Only expand on what is relevant to the company, position, and/or team you are applying to. Think in terms of results and outcomes. Save the detailed explanations for the interview. During the interview will be your opportunity to go into great depths about your subject matter expertise — which is what both they and you want. There’s you have an opportunity to shine!
Give them what they are looking for in 10 seconds or less. Help yourself stand out from every other applicant and show why you’re a perfect fit for this position. Use bullet points and short paragraphs to make sure they see what they want and what you want them to see.