As we write resumes, the main focus, understandably, is on content. We concentrate on writing powerful accomplishment statements, quantifying those accomplishments, and focusing the content to position ourselves for the job we wish to apply for.
How, then, does the placement of information play into creating an effective resume? The fact is, the placement of information is just as important as the content of the resume. A poorly constructed resume will confuse the reader, will hide the most important details, and will fail to highlight the job seeker’s strengths.
The top 1/3 of the first page of the resume is prime real estate. This is where the reader’s eye falls first, and where those precious first 8-10 seconds are most likely spent. It is vital to use this prime space to capture the reader’s attention, keep them engaged, use enough relevant keywords, and create a visually superior document.
Let’s break down this small but powerful top resume section:
HEADER: The name should be on a separate line, followed by just the city and state, one phone number, one email address, and LinkedIn URL.
- A special note about your email address: If your email address is email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, I advise you to get a new email address; one that does not automatically put a sour taste in the reader’s mouth.
BRANDING STATEMENT: A branding statement highlights your unique value proposition; the one thing that you do better than anything else, and then prominently showcases that. As a result, the reader gets a quick, clear understanding of who the candidate is and what they can accomplish.
- It is important to craft a branding statement that includes relevant keywords in order to pass through Applicant Tracking Systems.
SUMMARY STATEMENT: A strong summary statement, one that is a maximum of 4-5 lines, is your first opportunity to catch the reader’s attention and sell them on why you are the answer to the company’s needs. What is it that sets you apart from the competition? Spell it out in this section.
- While a strong objective was the norm just a few short years ago, this is no longer the case. Think of it this way: an objective statement tells the reader what YOU want and what YOUR goals are. Too often, an objective statement is too general and does not provide enough detail. Instead, a strong summary statement tells the hiring manager what you can do for THEM.
When writing resumes, we must concentrate not only on the content, but on the placement of that content, especially on the placement of information on the top 1/3 of the first page.
It can mean the difference between a mediocre resume and one that helps you reach your goal: an interview!