While most hiring managers honestly believe they’re giving each resume fair and equal consideration, this isn’t always the case. Mangers are human beings, and no matter how hard they try to be objective, they sometimes give a resume a ten-second glance and they just…know. Even before they reach the “education” or “work history” sections, they’ve already formed a strong first impression.
And this first impression sets the stage for whatever information reveals itself next. If reviewers like this candidate on a gut level, the rest of the resume will have to include some fairly damning information to push the applicant out of the running. And if the first glace casts shadows or doubts on the candidate, the rest of the page will have to present some serious pros in order to make the cons fall away.
In other words, the first glance can make or break the success of the entire application. Here are a few ways to use this quirk of the hiring process to your advantage:
1. Summary, summary, summary. The summary of a resume is like a movie trailer: It’s the quick version—the promo—that sells you. And because of the way we absorb information in our modern world, most reviewers begin reading the summary with only question in mind: “Will I or will I not be interested in reading further?” They’re looking for only one thing: A reason to keep an open mind as they read on.
2. Even a summary has a summary. Make the first sentence of your summary say—or at least suggest—everything about you that your readers must know. Back in the days of print journalism, reporters kept a rule of thumb in mind: Put the whole story in the first line. That is, the beginning of the story, the middle, and the end.
3. Cut to the chase. And in this case, the chase isn’t just about what you can do and what you have to offer. It’s about what you can do that other applicants can’t. Here’s how to rank your information: The body of the resume contains evidence to support the claims of the summary. The summary contains the primary claim. And the primary claim tells the reviewer why you should be hired instead of the next candidate in line.
4. Focus on tone, not just content. While you keep your summary statements lean and devoid of fluff, make sure you keep one eye on the tone of your phrases and sentences. Do you sound like someone who’s smart and self-directed? Do you sound confident? Do you sound trustworthy? A strong command of the language suggests a person who’s ready to take on a high level of responsibility.
5. Don’t accidently undermine yourself. Remove words and language like “try” or “might” or “almost” or “probably.”
6. Set the terms. Know exactly what you want from this transaction before you begin to write. Don’t just tell the reviewer that you’re capable of handling whatever’s asked of you. Show her—in concrete terms—what you want this relationship to look like.
They’re also impossible to put down. And once managers put them down, they’re impossible to forget. Keep your resume at the top of the list by grabbing your reviewer’s attention from the very first line. Visit LiveCareer to create a resume that grabs hiring managers’ attention and leads to more job offers.