Why the First Half of Your Resume is So Crucial
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What if you could convince an employer to give you an interview before they even get half way down the first page of your resume? Well the truth is, most employers have made their decision by this point. In fact, they will probably discount a resume before they get past the ¾ mark of the first page.
So by following these few simple techniques, I guarantee you will sky rocket your chances of turning a job application into the ‘excitement’ (or nervousness) of an interview.
For me, it helped me to get 3 interviews in the space of 2 weeks, even after spending 2 months of having zero (yes zero) responses to my resume. So in this article I’m telling you EXACTLY why employers are so quick to make their decision about giving you an interview.
AND I’m giving you some insanely practical tips that you can implement immediately, to make the first half of your professional resume absolutely perfect. So that your resume is sooo engaging, that YOU get the interview. Not only that, I end by giving you a key takeaway for you to use in every application.
Why do I feel so strongly about the first page of your resume?
Over the years, I’ve been handed A LOT of resumes (or CV’s in England). Whether it’s a resume for me to help someone with, or a resume for me to hire someone with, or even MY resume to get a job with.
It’s a question that runs through my mind every time I read one, as soon as I get past even the first paragraph. Do I want to know more about this person? And most of the time the answer is ‘maybe’, but I wanted to turn the answer into a big fat YES.
So what did I do? I created 20 iterations of the first page of my resume, until I was 110% happy with it and until the response rate had shot up, which is when the interview offers came flooding through.
You can get a copy of my resume here to see exactly how to do it: Business Analyst Resume – How to write yours for 90% response rate, but not only did this work with my resume, it also worked amazingly with my best friends resume when he got made redundant. And countless others that have followed my advice, so let me explain.
Why is the first part of your resume the MOST important?
There are a number of mistakes that people might make but sometimes it’s not the mistakes that lose the interview. So what is it? It’s the mindset of the person reading it. So if you can keep that person engaged from the start, you will have a massive chance of being the chosen interviewee.
Here are the reasons:
1. Employers have loads of resumes to read
Chances are, the person reading your resume has already read 200 resumes in search of the perfect candidate. So if they’re not happy immediately, yours will go in the bin. That’s it – DONE.
2. Managers are busy people
While hiring someone for a position in their company, the recruiter is most definitely trying to do one million other jobs, all at the same time. So they don’t have time, or interest to read any more, of any resumes that they have discounted because of a poor opening page.
3. Managers already know who they want
The recruiter has a vision usually made up of 5 key aspects:
- Who they want to work with
- How they want to work.
- What they want the person to do.
- Why they want that person.
- When they want that person to work.
Using the tips in the next section of this article, all of these questions CAN be answered in the first part of your document. But if you don’t match their vision, guess what – Your resume might make it into the archive for later viewing. But the archive is also known to many as ‘The black hole’, never to be seen again.
4. They wrote the job description
Someone, somewhere has thought long and hard about the job description for this role. Even if the recruiter hasn’t personally written it, they have definitely read it and approved it. So they will know as soon as they put their eyes on your resume, if it matches what they’ve put in the job description. And if it doesn’t, then you know what will happen – No interview, no job!
But if your resume contains most of the keywords from the job spec on the first page, then you can almost guarantee they will keep reading.
5. Recruiters get bored
We already know that the managers are busy with lots of resumes to read. So they most definitely don’t want to be bored when reading yours, and if they do get bored, they will get bored after the first few paragraphs. And boom – the decision is made, they move onto the next resume in the pile. Without contacting you.
6. They get distracted
Fact: managers are distracted every minute of every day, by many different things. So you might now be able what I’m going to say if your paper hasn’t pricked up their eyebrows and they get distracted while reading it, they will just re-start from the next resume in the pile.
However, on the other hand, if you do make their eyebrows prick up, they will remember your resume and come back to it. Then even better, offer you an interview.
How do you perfect the front page of your resume?
I’ll begin by telling you the mistakes or what you should NOT do, and then I’ll tell you what you SHOULD do.
Firstly, there are many criteria (or mistakes) that you need to be aware of. But some mistakes have much more impact if they are made in the first half of your resume. Either that or they are simply visible from the off, i.e. without even reading a word of your background.
- Spelling mistakes
- Unprofessional Personal details (email, social media)
- Writing in third person
So what’s the formula for keeping the reader engaged? To begin, the formatting is essential and I don’t just mean size of titles etc. I mean what sections to begin with on it.
It’s very simple and it’s like this:
1. Personal Profile
Start with your personal profile so that you can give the recruiter a ‘vision’ of who you are, how you work and why you’re qualified for the job. Not only that, you can easily add in some of the key words from the job specification here and sell yourself broadly as it’s not related to any previous jobs. If that’s not enough, you will easily be able to match it to the requirements of the role if the role is right for you.
A few rules though:
- DO Make your personal profile stand out
- DO make it punchy.
- DO sell yourself.
- DON’T make it more than 5 to 7 sentences long or more than 150 words.
2. A list of key skills
Next add a list of your 5 or 6 key skills, with one sentence for each skill you mention. This is a perfect opportunity to match your skills to the job spec. If you can’t match your skills, then the job might not be right for you, so don’t even waste your time applying.
Think clearly about the person reading your resume, and map your key skills to what you think they want. Back up each key skill with a sentence
Here’s an example:
Communication – Excellent at communicating with people at all levels of the business.
Make sure you use strong describing words at the start of the sentence but don’t add too much wording to each skill. So that’s it.
These 2 sections SHOULD NOT take up more than ¾ of the first page of your resume and if you get this right, you could have the employer picking up the phone immediately to offer you an interview.
Key Takeaway from this post
Always write your resume with the person who is going to be reading it at the forefront of your mind. Put yourselves in their shoes and think how they might think. Do what they might do and you will definitely sky rocket yourself into an exciting interview.
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