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Your resume is like a commercial. The product it’s selling: you. You are the shiny, new person that employer has been looking for and you’re available for the low, low cost of an appropriate salary and benefits.
Think of your resume as a commercial about you. Since there aren’t really visuals involved with a resume (unless you’re an artist or actor) let’s think of it as a radio commercial. Most of those commercial spots have to fit into 30 seconds or less. That means they have to grab your attention and give you all the information you need in under half a minute. That’s not a lot of time.
Experts say that, when it comes to resumes, employers decide whether or not to keep reading your resume within 7 seconds of glancing through it. That means that you’ve got to make an impactful impression in almost one tenth of a minute.
So, let’s think in terms of 7 seconds and then 30 seconds.
To catch that employer’s attention you need a resume that is visually strong and appealing. It should be neat and clean looking, meaning not over-crowded with information. If your potential employer feels overwhelmed just looking at the volume of information on your resume, they are most likely going to give it up in anticipation of feeling exhausted. Remember those commercials: you don’t need to say every single detail, just highlight the most relevant information.
For those first 7 seconds, you also want your name to stand out, the headings on the sections throughout your resume, and, especially, the names of the places you’ve worked/positions you have held. In those first 7 seconds, a lot of employers are looking to see if you are competent at making a resume: this skill involves attention to detail, organization, patience, time-commitment, and basic computer skills, all of which many employers are looking for in potential employees. The employer may also be looking to see if you have the experience relevant to the position they need to fill; having your relevant experience clearly and visibly articulated near the top of your resume is a strong choice. This can be your work experience but listing your relevant skills/experience in a separate section will give them an overview of why you think you’re right for their job. If you can, do your best to tailor these skills/types of experience to the specific job you are applying for.
Now, you’ve held their attention for the first and vital 7 seconds. Congratulations! Your next job is to prove to them that they should put even more time into considering your resume and/or bring you in for an interview.
My advice is to have only the most relevant work experience and skills represented on your resume. If you’ve worked for 30 years in sales but you’re looking for a job working with children, find the experience that is best suited to childcare, customer service and so forth. This goes back to what I said about not inundating the employer with too much information. They don’t need to know about every single one of the 30 sales jobs you’ve held for the past 4 decades. You can mention that in your statement of purpose, your cover letter, or your experience list. Show them the jobs that prove that you are qualified, without a doubt, for the specific position they’re hiring for. Give them the basic information about what your job tasks were, what your accomplished, when you were promoted or recognized for outstanding work. What they need to see is that you know what they are looking for in an employee and that you know that you are it.
Keep your details succinct; you want to give them enough information but you also want them to be able to take in as much information as possible in the short amount of time they may be looking at your resume. One way you can check if you’re being succinct with your information is to type it out and then time yourself reading/skimming through it. Prune it from there. There’s nothing wrong with one word descriptions or short phrases. Think about it: if they’re spending less than 30 seconds, or even less than 10 seconds, they’re not looking for a detailed narrative. They’re probably looking at, at least, 50 other resumes; you want them to know that you’re the one for them as quickly as possible.
Now, you may be thinking that commercials are often fun or funny, and, while that is true, you need to be careful about the amount of “whimsy” you put in your resume. Resume writing needs to be professional and informative, first and foremost. You can show your personality with your format and the visual choices you make, as well as your font. I also like to throw in 1-3 fun “special skills” to show that I’m fun, funny, or, at the very least, human. On every resume I have (currently, I have three for different industries I work in) I include “juggling” in my list of skills. Some people like to include special interests as well. I encourage this only on two conditions: 1) adding special interests (or even extra “fun” skills” does not make your resume too long—depending on your industry, a good rule of thumb is that your resume shouldn’t go over two pages; and 2) you only add the “special interest” section to the very bottom of your resume.
Your potential employer is reading from top to bottom, meaning the most relevant information, the information that you want them to read in those first 7 and 30 second time brackets, should be at the top. Special interest sections and fun skills are for when they’ve determined that you probably are someone they want to interview and they’re just going through all of your details. Special interests and fun skills, like I said, show your personality. Sometimes those elements of your personality will appeal to an employer that shares something in common with you. Sometimes they will inform that employee that you have something to offer that goes above and beyond their specific call of duty.
When I was applying for a job at a smoothie shop years ago, having juggling on my resume caught my manager’s eye. She asked me to juggle outside the store while wearing a promotional body sign in order to draw in business; I got to take a break from the repetitiveness of the usual job and I got paid time and a half for the two hours I was out there. You never know.
But, again, unless it is super relevant to the position you want, leave it until the end and give that employer the chance to quickly decide that you are a “yes,” before finding out those fun little facts about you (that should make that “yes” even stronger).
And remember: you’re that new, updated product this employer is looking for. You’ve got just what they’re looking for with a fresh perspective and energy to bring to the table. Show them why they want to invest in you and do it in a quick, informative, and appropriately informative way.

Hiring managers and head hunters see resumes day in and day out. Their purpose is to determine which job applicants are best suited to take on roles within companies around the world. Head hunters are uniquely qualified to point out what works and what does not work in a resume.
Depending on the position being sought, the company doing the hiring and the economic climate at the time of hiring, resumes can look more appealing from one angle than from another. There is no golden rule about what inclusions on a resume will guarantee a job applicant the job. Yet there is one thing that head hunters and hiring managers can agree on regardless of the job being hired for or the company doing the hiring. According to Fortune magazine, on any and all resumes, it is “critical that job applicants show progression in their career” (Benjamin, 2015, p. 1).
This means that the age-old tale of staying in a job for fifteen years to show that you have “staying power” is not as important as your father’s generation thought it was. Companies today understand that individuals want to learn what jobs suit them just as much as businesses want to hire employees that suit the company. Head hunters and hiring managers understand this fact as well. A senior executive should have the wherewithal to know what steps will make the most sense in his own career. Head hunters understand that the resume of such an individual would reflect this. This resume may include gaps in career where an independent business venture was starting up. It may show a break in employment for time spent abroad volunteering.
Gone are the days of hiring employees to be loyal to a company until the day they retire. Hiring managers understand that businesses today change faster than ever before. Head hunters know that businesses need to remain flexible in order to be competitive in the marketplace. Hiring managers know that bringing on senior level executives who have taken changes with their own careers, means they will be bringing on staff with confidence in their own abilities and vision. Hiring managers know that a resume needs to actively reflect the authentic life that a job applicant has lived. However, a resume also needs to lay out the gains achieved in living that authentic life.
A job applicant that has lived an exciting life but boasts a career of waiting tables at different restaurants in different countries for fifteen years is not going to have the leadership potential that head hunters look for. Companies do not want employees who are happy continuing the status quo. This is why head hunters look for those world travelers who moved from waiting tables in one country to being the head waiter in another country. Progression is key because career progression shows career enthusiasm.
Regardless of the reasons there are holes on a resume, progression will encourage any head hunter or hiring manager to bring in that applicant for an interview. As long as the jobs after resume gaps are higher caliber jobs than those positions before resume gaps, applicants stand a chance. This desire for career progression in applicants comes from wanting to bring people into companies that will benefit the company. Hiring managers know this which is why reflecting career progression in a resume is so important.

References Cited
Benjamin, Ambra. (2015). What do recruiters look for in a resume? Fortune. Retrieved from

One of the best things you can do to prepare for a job interview is to…prepare. Take some time before you go into that room to get your body, your voice, and your mind ready for what’s coming at you. It’s a stressful situation; it’s like a performance. No singer just goes on stage for her concert without warming up, and having at least a loose game plan. Neither should you. You should warm-up, loosen up, and have a rough idea of how things are going to go. You’ve got a hard copy of your resume in hand and your appropriately knock-out outfit, add to that a well-spoken and confident demeanor, and that job will be yours.
The first thing we recommend is practicing your answers. You don’t want them to sound memorized, of course; but you want to have an idea of what you want to say. You want to think about these things beforehand so that you a) don’t forget something vital, like your three years of managerial experience and b) don’t include unimportant information like how your mom always said you were the best at doing chores. There are plenty of websites that list sample questions that employers use in interviews; you can search questions that are specific to the position you’re going for as well. Answer these questions out loud. This will warm up your voice, so it doesn’t crack in the middle of your actual interview, and warm up your mind, thinking about your accomplishments and credentials. If you can do this with someone, that’s even better, because an extra set of ears will be able to let you know if what your saying sounds good and seems relevant. This practice will also boost your confidence; you’ll already have a list of what you are good at and what you’ve achieved in the past, and what your goals are running through your head; you’ll walk in confident that you deserve this job.
Next, we recommend getting specific. Think about the job you’re applying for and think about your past experience; make a list of all of the ways your experience is specifically applicable to the position you want. This is especially important if you are looking to change industries. Your previous position may not be obviously related to the one you’re hoping to get, but there are aspects of it that qualify you. If you worked with specific computer programs, that means that you are experienced learning and running software, you will be able to learn a new program quickly. If you ever held a position of leadership, that means that you can handle responsibility and multi-tasking, both of which are applicable for any job. Applying for a job you’re not sure you’re qualified for is a good risk to take, just make sure you know why you are qualified.
Finally, get moving and sell yourself. Get your blood pumping a little bit by jogging in place, stretching or taking the stairs. Of course, know your limits; you don’t want to be sweaty and out of breath for your interview. You do, however, want to disperse that nervous energy and be alive and alert when the interview starts. When you get in there, smile; believe that you know what you’re going to say and that what you have to offer is good enough for them. Tell them why they should be in the business of you. They want to see confidence, they want to see someone who believes that they can do the job they want to fill; even the most qualified people can lose out on a job if they fail to sell themselves in the interview. You got called in to interview for a reason, and this is your chance to show it!