Anatomy of …an Eye-Catching Résumé

Stand Out from the Pack

The average recruiter spends just 7.4 seconds eyeballing a résumé, says career website Here’s how to make sure yours gets a second look.

Keep it simple. Fifteen years ago, you didn’t have to worry about how your résumé would look if it were read on an iPhone, says Lisa Rangel, an executive résumé writer based in Rutherford, New Jersey, and founder of Chameleon Resumes. Avoid the fancy formatting and intricate layouts. “The simpler and more basic it is, the better chance the document has of being opened on multiple types of devices,” Rangel says.

Let a mission statement set the stage. Use a brief summary at the top of the résumé to preview what’s to come, spell out what type of position you’re looking for, and briefly list an achievement or two relevant to the job you’re targeting. “Think of this summary as a table of contents that piques interest so people know to keep reading,” Rangel says.

Let accomplishments lead. Rather than telling prospective employers about your past duties, tout four to seven bullets of achievements. Résumés that list the duties “look like job descriptions with somebody’s name on top,” Rangel says. Your accomplishments distinguish you from other applicants.

Keep creativity confined. Instead of pushing the envelope, stick to tradition. “Some people think that to be different they’re going to put their address at the bottom. All that does is annoy the recruiter because the recruiter is used to seeing it at the top.”

Include soft skills. Recruiters want to see evidence that you can manage and inspire people. Share examples of how you’ve mastered interpersonal skills, such as working across teams.
Skip the objective. “An objective typically is a very old-school format where people are explaining what they want from a job without tying it to what the company needs,” Rangel says. “Companies want to make sure you can do what they need.

Tout achievements, not years. “Don’t lead off with your years of experience and then be upset if you think age is being used against you,” Rangel cautions. “Focus on your achievements and not on your seniority.”

Photo by iStockPhoto

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