I had just begun looking through my slew of about 80 internship applications for Culture Adapt, my international career coaching and education company. Unfortunately, I always dread this process because of the sheer number of BAD applications I get.
For example, most of the applicants had a résumé that didn’t show any of the experience that I was looking for, and those who did had buried it in a confusing mess of bolded and italicized words. I kept thinking to myself, “I don’t care where you go to school or what your GPA is. I don’t care what your major is. Just show me the skill I asked for in the job posting!”
Bad résumé, after bad résumé, after bad résumé. At last, I came to a resume that shocked me.
“Maybe it’s normal to show your blood type and social picture in their home country?” I thought to myself. As I scanned the document, I was astounded to see the worst résumé I had ever encountered. The applicant had put absolutely no effort into Americanizing it, and because of this I was unable to see her as a serious candidate.
I moved on, still looking for the one specific skill set I needed. In the end, I only found it in about five résumés. I looked more thoroughly through the resumes, hoping to find someone capable of contributing to our goals in big ways. Sadly, I did not as everyone focused on achievements that didn’t have an relevance to my business needs.
In the end I decided to go with a student I met at an event and had a good conversation with.
This example is a little extreme, but it will hopefully show you how important it is to make your resume stand out.
Typically when I ask job-seekers how much time they spend on their resumes, the answer is “I change it for almost every application.”
This is not necessary!
Let me tell you something very important: your résumé is going to be looked at for about fifteen seconds, and your cover letter, maybe not at all.
Because that is how much time a recruiting manager will take to look completely over that piece of paper. They are breezing through hundreds of resumes a week, so in fifteen seconds they have already made a judgment of whether they are interested in you or not.
So how do you stand out from the 100 other résumés they see?
Have an unbelievable great “Career Summary”! (or as others call it, a “Headline”)
You need a “Career Summary” that will make a person think, “Who is this person!? I NEED this person on the team.”
Spend time crafting the best “Career Summary” you possibly can and THEN have 10 people look at your resume. Let each person look at it for fifteen seconds, take it away from them, ask them to describe you. What did they find out by quickly reading that résumé? Ask them to sum you up in one or two sentences.
You have a thought in your mind of how you are conveying yourself on your résumé, right?
By doing this test, you can easily see if you are being successful in conveying that message. If you are not, then you have to edit your résumé. Maybe the format is not as good as it should be, or perhaps your career summary stinks, or maybe your accomplishments don’t seem as impressive as they really are.
Based on feedback, change and perfect your “Career Summary”. Then, make sure that every single bullet point on your resume is IMPRESSIVE. No one wants to read about your boring, day-to-day tasks.
Hiring managers want to see results.
Highlight the outstanding things you’ve done in your life: the successful projects or teams you’ve been on, the papers you have published, the money you have made your previous employers. Use strong, active verbs like “generated,” “saved” or “increased.” In fact, you need to make it look like they would be crazy not to hire you!
After you’ve done that work, I’m giving you permission to NEVER touch your resume again.
With these careful edits and selective bullet points, your resume will get noticed. You will also save yourself valuable hours that can now be devoted to more important things like meeting decision makers.
The 15 Second Resume Test Steps
So again, here are the few steps you need to take:
1. Bring your résumé to ten different people
2. Let them look it over for fifteen seconds
3. Take it away
4. Ask them to describe you
5. Ask them to sum you up in a sentence or two
6. Decide if you are conveying the correct message
7. Adjust your résumé accordingly
You can do this quick test repeatedly to figure out if your résumé is perfect and conveying the right message. Remember, you shouldn’t be spending a lot of time re-writing your resume. You should spend it meeting and building relationships with the decision makers.
In the comments below let me know what you learned from the 15 Second Resume Test and if you liked it!
*excerpt from 4 Weeks To Your American Dream Job