I wrote recently on how the decision about your suitability for a job is made within the first six seconds of your resume being read. Certainly a scary thought… and you have to wonder how anyone makes the grade? How much can you seriously tell about a person from a six second reading of a resume? What are the tell-tale signs that indicate whether or not you do, or even might have, what will make you the right person for the job?

We already know that the employer or recruiter has to create a shortlist of applications for closer scrutiny at a later time. While initially their focus is on your skills and qualifications, and how well they match what they are looking for in their new employee, they also want to know what type of person you are. So in that first, and most critical reading, the person scanning your resume will be looking for evidence of not only what you can do, but also more subtle indicators of who you are. No resume will be read in depth at this stage. That comes later. At this point, it is the headings you use that will determine your progress.

Providing details of your achievements, voluntary work and vocational experience play a large part in making sure you survive the first read. These are the things that set you apart from other applicants – the actual details may not be read at this stage, but the fact that they are there should mean you will remain in the running.

The layout and presentation of the document also provides subtle clues. You probably know it’s important to avoid spelling mistakes, but have you also thought about making sure the punctuation is correct, and the formatting is consistent across the whole document? Slipping up in these areas says a lot about your organisational skills and attention to detail. Maybe it seems a little unfair to judge someone so harshly, but if you have to read hundreds of job applications to select only one or two people, you have to be ruthless. Until next time…


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