I’ve noticed some other AB bloggers writing about resume writing and such. I’ve written about resume writing, online job searching and the like in two blog arcs starting with the following posts, Sweetness’ Findings: Resumes Going the Way of the Dinosaur, Part 1 and Sweetness’ Research on Job Hunting, Part 1. What’s interesting is that these two arcs were written just under two years ago and they’re getting lots of traffic now.
AB blogger Nicole Francois offers some good advice in Better Resume Writing, The Effective Job Request Letter and Effective Communication for Job Seekers. I’d like to build on her sage counsel by adding some information based on NextStage’s research into how people read and respond to resumes and cover letters.
People evaluate, respond to and make decisions about hiring people long before they’re consciously aware they’re doing so, and all in response to words, phrases, font size and usage, images, colors, chart placement and so on on a resume. The psychological and behavioral principles behind this have been well known for over a hundred years now and I’ve written about this in phenomenon in Websites: You’ve Only Got 3 Seconds and numerous other places (we research this actively). Here are some simple ways to make people place your cover letter and resume on top rather than at the bottom:
- Writing a Good Resume: Let me offer the following in addition to everything else that’s been written; be concise, be clear, be quick. Resumes and cover letters that are to the point, clearly written about abilities and expectations, and concise in past experience always score higher than those that don’t include these elements.
- Write Your Resume When You’re in a Positive Mood: Many companies use automated tools to evaluate resumes long before humans ever touch them (I know this because several companies use NextStage tools for this purpose). These tools attempt to build a psychological portrait of the prospect. Resumes written when you’re feeling low, vulnerable, defeated, worthless, etc., won’t score well in such systems. What if the company you’re applying to doesn’t use such tools? Then your mood when you write your resume will still come through — even more so — when a human reads it. The only difference is that the human won’t know why they don’t like your resume, they’ll simply reject it.
- Your Smiling Face: More and more larger companies are laying people off. This means there’s going to be lots of entrepreneurs out there looking for help. The major difference between a big company and an entrepreneur is workspace personality. Big companies are rule bound, entrepreneurs aren’t. They want to know they’re going to get along well with you on a personal level. Include a picture of yourself, upper right hand corner, a head shot is best, not full face, angled in towards the resume and always with a smile. You’ll hear pros and cons about adding a picture of yourself to a resume. We’re suggesting that this economy requires you to present a person with abilities (meaning a photo) rather than abilities tied to a person (no photo).
- Start with Your Strengths: To the left of your picture and at the top of the page list your name, address, a single phone number where you know you can be reached, email, webpage (if any) and directly underneath two or three things that single you out among many. Achievements are good if they’re record setting, otherwise quotes from previous employers (from performance reviews, things you can document) are excellent.
- Match Your Interview to Your Resume: They call you on the phone or call you in to talk. Was your resume conservative in format, design, fonts, graphics and so on? Then they expect you to be the same. Dress conservatively, talk in full, declarative sentences. Was your resume a videograph of you at the beach? And they called you in? Can I get a job there?
- Situational Interviews: Companies perform what are “situational” interviews now and honestly I don’t know why. The days of being interviewed by one or two people at the most are gone. Now even the lowliest job requires you be interviewed by a committee, walking from one office to the next. The questions are “Say you were working on a team project and…” I guess companies aren’t allowed to ask things like “Can you do this job?” In any case, how you respond is extremely important. Be positive, be affirmative, be conversational. Follow the lead of the person you’re talking with. Are they joking around? So can you (within reason). Are they staid and quiet? Be thoughtful and conservative.
I mentioned above that some companies use automated tools to analyze resumes long before humans see them. That’s a topic I’ll cover in my next post.
Please contact NextStage for information regarding presentations and trainings on this and other topics.
Links for this post:
- BizMediaScience Resume and Job Hunting Blog Posts
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