Most Important Part Of Resume

The Most Important Part Of Your Resume

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What’s the most important part of your resume? I hate to say it, but the attention span of hiring managers seems to be getting shorter. In fact, I was speaking with an executive-level employer the other day (who regularly reviews resumes), and he commented about how quickly he can scan through a stack of resumes and choose the candidates he plans to call.

He admitted that it really is an unfair process—that so many job seekers are judged solely by the quality and presentation of their resumes (documents that too often are afforded a review of only a few seconds). And if it’s a poor presentation, or boring to the reader, or just doesn’t communicate the right message—they are quickly passed over.

It’s a given that the average employer will invest only a few seconds—literally—in his or her initial resume scan. So, it’s critically important to your candidacy to ensure that the part of your resume in which he or she is willing to invest five seconds of attention grabs—and keeps—their attention. So, where is the employer’s attention going first… and how can you make the most of that section of your resume?

The First Third Of Your Resume Is The Most Important

The top third of your resume is where the employer will direct the bulk of his or her initial resume scan. So what you put here is vitally important. If it’s boring, too text-dense, or doesn’t speak to the position they’re trying to fill, you’re sure to be passed over.

What Should You Put In This Critical Section?

The top third of your resume should contain the most dynamic, persuasive, and noteworthy information about yourself and your career. Top load your resume with accomplishments, successes, and quantifiable results that are the most applicable to the position you’re applying for. Here are some critical areas:

The contact information – Include links to your LinkedIn profile, career blog, or professional Web site. Direct the hiring manager to places where he or she can find more engaging information about you.

The job target title – Use a job target/job title at the top of the resume to make the mental connection between what you do and the position the employer is filling.

Include a branding statement – A great one-line branding statement that communicates your relevancy as a candidate for the opening. Remember… the employer has a need they’re trying to fill, and if what you are known for meets that need, you’ve just become very employable.

A career summary that isn’t all fluff—Don’t create a career summary full of generic statements that are vague and speak nothing to who you are or what you can bring to the table as an employee. This is the time to set yourself apart as a candidate. Use specific keywords and quantifiable achievements.

Accomplishments and career highlights are a must—Create a section that speaks to your most notable career achievements and that are quantifiable. Employers want to see results, and they want to know what you’ve accomplished in the past.

Having a friend or family member look over your resume and then provide an opinion is nice when it comes to proofreading and pointing out errors within the resume—but someone who knows you and has a vested interest won’t be able to really tell you in an unbiased way if your resume is boring. Try to have an unbiased third party give you some feedback on how engaging they consider your resume.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, CEO of Great Resumes Fast is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter.

5 comments

  1. I think you hit the nail on the head with the line, “Remember… the employer has a need they’re trying to fill, and if what you are known for meets that need, you’ve just become very employable.” This one line encapsulates everything you are saying. Though I’m not in the job market, I often interview others and I am regularly disappointed that I don’t get asked what it is I’m looking for. Doesn’t matter which position I’m trying to fill; I’m looking for people who are bold enough to ask what I need, and then explain in a succinct manner how they would fill that role.

    I really appreciate this article, because it is concise yet specific. I haven’t read a better article on resumes all year.

    • My coworker, and long time friend read my comment and asked me, “If you’re looking for people to ask you what you want why don’t you just tell them?” I answered explaining that there is a fine line between creating an environment for success by either streamlining the desired results, or leaving room for initiative. So to clarify, I’m not looking for someone who waits to be told what I’m looking for, not at all. I’m looking for someone who asks. Initiative is a trait I never believe on paper only through action do I qualify the person and time is a factor.

  2. YES > AS RESUMES ARE THE ONLY ‘MEDIUM’ FOR AN ASPIRING JOB SEEKER TO WIN THE ATTN OF THE READER / INTERVIEWER > I BELIEVE > CANDIDATES CAN & MUST ADOPT “QUITE CREATIVE WAYS” & “STRATEGIES” TO SUCCESFULLY GET THRU’ THIS INITIAL PHASE OF THE SELECTION PROCESS > SO > WHAT DO YOU THINK ABT THE STRATEGY OF > CANDIDATES “HIGHLIGHTING” THE MAIN SECTIONS OF THEIR RESUMES > SAY > HIGHLIGHTING THEM IN COLOUR OR GET THEM ‘GOING’ IN “BOLD & CAPITALS” > THAT WILL HELP THE READER TO READ THESE MAIN ‘CREAMY & MEATY’ PARTS OF THE RESUME > THAT NOT ONLY WILL SAVE TIME IN SCANNING THEM BUT ALSO HELP CANDIDATES PUT MORE EMPHASIS ON THEIR STRENGHTS & CORE COMPTENCIES TOO & DRIVE THE INTERVIEWER TO READ THESE “STRONG” ASPECTS OF THEIR RESUMES !!!

    INTERVIEWERS ARE SURE TO APPRECIATE THIS STRATEGY & WILL SURELY IMPRESS THEM ABT THE MIND SET & APPROACH OF SUCH ‘STRATEGIC’ CANDIDATES !!!

    I BELIEVE THIS IS ONLY A GOOD COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO TODAYS RECRUITMENT PROCESS & NOTHING OUT OF THE BLUE !!!

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