Resume Destruction in 10 Seconds!

02.27.14 | Posted in Job Search

Your resume is THE most important part of the job search. The resume MUST be one page. The resume MUST be in chronological, work history order. The resume MUST have your education first.

These are just a few of the statements about resumes that parade around as facts. Here’s what I know; there are NO absolutes with regard to resumes. If you have anyone tell that you MUST do this or you MUST do that, then you MUST run to the next career coach who doesn’t deal in black and white statements! No two job searches and resumes are the same nor should they look the same!

Let’s address just two of these alleged facts about resumes.

Here’s fact or fiction number one – The resume is THE most important part of the job search – Fiction. Although the resume is important, THE most important part of the job search is your connections and your ability to network and find the jobs that aren’t advertised (the hidden job market). I see too many people put a lot of their focus on creating a great resume and then apply to job openings on job boards, career sites and company job boards. That is not a job search. It may be part of the job search, but the best recommendation I give is that it should be no more than 20%. The most important part – working your network of connections – should be the other 80% of your time and focus!! Yes, the resume is important, it should stand out, and it should sell you in a way that distinguishes you from others, but it’s just one tool in a big toolbox.

Fact or fiction number two – The resume MUST be one page. Fiction.  Can it be one page?  Yes. Does it have to be? NO! Referencing my last comments about the importance of the resume, THE most important part of your resume is what I call the Summary of Qualifications. The advice I give is to place it as the first section of the resume. The imperative is to capture someone’s attention and create interest that causes them to keep reading!

The proof that your resume will destruct and be placed in the reject pile has come from research and HR studies that show the typical person initially reads a resume for 10 to 20 seconds.  Somewhere in that 10 to 20 seconds they decide whether to keep reading. If that’s true, (and it is!) then it doesn’t really matter if it’s one page or two.

I tell my clients to think of it this way – the average person who is reading a resume is looking to reject it. Cold.Hard.Fact. It’s shocking to read that and some of you won’t believe me. That’s ok. For those who choose to believe that the HR or hiring agents’ first line of defense is rejection of your resume, then it should change your perspective about the resume and its purpose.

What is the purpose of your resume?

The purpose is to keep them interested enough (hook them!) in you so that you go to the next step – no matter what that looks like. That first paragraph, the Summary of Qualifications, is your calling card and your chance to say “Hey, look at me! I’ve got talent, skills, education, desire, motivation and I’ve got a track record to back it up! Don’t you want to find out just how awesome I am? Then keep reading where and how I did those things!”

Good luck with your job search. Stand out from the crowd, work your network and see good things happen!

Onward & Upward!

Ed Chaffin

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3 Responses to “Resume Destruction in 10 Seconds!”

  1. Shanon Wynonna says:

    I’ve got to be honest, your idea of a resume with the summary of Qualifications as the first paragraph has got me thinking. Perhaps the most important conclusion to be drawn here is that we’re usually bored of seeing the same thing over and over again and a change, something that strikes us as being different, makes us hope we’re looking at the right candidate’s CV. A one page resume can be accepted, but more than often they are beautified by the job seekers’ perspective and/or need to get hired. I spend more time checking a CV if it has letters of recommendation, as well.

    • echaffin says:

      Shanon, thanks for your valuable comments. The main point is this – no matter how you do it, you have to capture the reader’s attention immediately and do it with facts and not fluff!


  2. Andreea says:

    I have to admit that your advices are really useful ! You’ve pointed out the idea of being original and as you said “stand out from the crowd “. When someone applies to a job, she/he has to be conscious that there are hundreds of other applicants, so she/he has to draw HR attention. I always thought that originality can make us more visible than being in line with everyone and of course to not forget about connections. Thank you for the tips and for explaining the real role of resume.

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