When you write your resume, do you know who is your target audience? Do you even know what they are looking for in their ideal employee?

Remember, you're not writing your resume to satisfy yourself – it’s not about your needs.  You're not even writing it to satisfy any "expert" of the resume book you just read, the recruiter you're working with, some career guidance counselor, or a friend who is a human resources manager, or even us.

You are writing for a very particular kind of reader - a potential employer.  If you are like most people, you tend to make some very, very optimistic assumptions about that person.  For example, you are certain that your reader is eager to find the best person for the job and you are sure they will notice the “important” things on your resume as well as the clever formatting tricks you have used (columns, underlining, different fonts, boldfacing, italics, strong verbs, skills, numbers, results, etc.).

Now for a big reality check, you had better take off your rose-colored glasses because your resume has a better than 98% chance of ending up in the garbage can (real or virtual).  Here’s why!

There are 7 characteristics of the psychology of the typical resume reader you need to understand: Resume readers are among the smartest and most skeptical readers in the world - they know that at least half of what they read consists of lies, exaggerations, half-truths, and formatting "tricks."  They are conditioned to not accept anything at face value.  Remember, a typical resume reader sees thousands of resumes so they know every trick in the book. Most resume readers are usually in a bad mood, because they have 300 resumes to read, and they are not being paid to carefully peruse each one.  Add to that they are rushed for time, annoyed at having to read yet another bad resume to the point of becoming hostile rather than sympathetic – giving someone a chance probably isn’t on their mind. Therefore, the typical resume reader is looking for any quick or convincing reason to throw yours in the trash.  It’s really a process of exclusion - some will even toss it if they don't like the envelope or the way your email looks.  Some resume readers will read only your resume and not the cover letter, or vice-versa.  With email submissions often they won’t even open up a zip file - you know how annoying it is to get an email that requires you to open up several files, for the resume reader it is triply annoying. They won’t be impressed by your use of the latest resume fads, like power words.  For some time, it was (and to some degree still is) 'verbs’ and since a verb is an action word, you think, the reader will be impressed by lots of great power words.  The latest craze is numbers, you must have lots of quantitative data in your resume, or no one will take you seriously.  Resumes now that are nothing but disconnected sets of numbers are no more impressive to the typical resume reader than is a bewildering array of power verbs. No resume will ever be read in true detail at first - that we all know.  Most resumes will be scanned for about 20 seconds by a human and even less with applicant tracking software - both are looking for certain information FIRST, basically to see if the resume is even worth reading in more detail.  Typically, they look for job titles and academic degrees first.  Some readers will first look for gaps in employment, some for certain skills and some for length of employment - each reader has his or her own priorities on what to scan for first.  Plus even if they do read it in detail, they may give it to 5 other people who will skim it  Again, it’s a process of exclusion – they want to cull the heard to get the best. Most readers know that their company is usually in no hurry to hire so even if they are interested in you they will probably take their time responding.  I know it’s hard to accept but they are not interested in calling you back right away, even if they like your resume. This part is huge,  They are NOT interested in your personal objectives for your life and your career.  Remember an employee’s sole purpose is to help the company solve its problems and achieve its goals – that is the ONLY reason they hire you.  All the while they may be totally unaware of your unique strengths and value that you can potentially bring to the organization.  That is typically because in most resumes, the person's unique strengths and potential value are buried somewhere in the middle of the resume and not written for a skimmer / reader / scanning system.


So, when you write your resume (or better to have a professional resume writer help you write it), keep the above tips in mind.  Remember, you have got to give the resume reader

What they are looking for FIRST, and what you want them to find FIRST.

That means that you cannot emphasize everything equally in your resume.  You have got to write it so that they see their priorities and yours instantly.  Make sure to keep that in mind, and you will have a much better chance of having your resume read AND taken seriously.


Good luck,

Carpe Diem Resumes