A couple of quick items to help your resume’ turn inquiries into interviews.
Catherine Lang-Cline and Kristen Harris at Portfolio Creative shared with me an old saying in the newspaper business: “Above the fold”. In newspaper terms, this means that to get the reader to open up the paper and read it, it has to attract attention on the top half of the page.
Think about it. We pick up a newspaper, and thumb through the (ever decreasing!) sections glancing at the top half of the page. If we see something we like, we stop, open up the paper, and read it.
Your resume’ has to work in much the same way. When the HR person or hiring manager picks it up, the top half has to grab their attention. The resume’ has to convince the reader that you are the kind of person that warrants a closer look. If the skills, knowledge, and experience of interest to the employer are at the bottom of page 1 or buried in page 2, they may never be seen.
For as much as we painstakingly choose our words to describe ourselves, if the hiring manager doesn’t see what they are looking for in the first few paragraphs, odds are your work of artistic expression is headed for the reject pile. This is yet another reason for tailoring your resume’ for specific positions, particularly those where you have direct access to the hiring manager.
In today’s digital world, the corallary to “above the fold” is “on the first screen”. Most resume’s are distributed electronically. The employer is going to click on the the document and pull it up in MS Word or Adobe. What they see on “on the first screen” is going to conciously or subconciously make an impression and guide whether they continue to consider you as a candidate.
For example, I just posted an ad for an IT Project Manager with strong experience in application development projects, financial services background, and large enterprise experience. One resume’ I received read more or less as follows:
Accomplished professional with strong track record of delivering projects on time and within budget. Over twenty years of experience in a variety of environments and technologies with unparalleled customer satisfaction. Familiar with current project management techniques and certified in Project Management from PMI.
XYZ Consulting Company 2007 – 2009
Data Center Updgrade Project
As Project Manager, established and led the project team from inception to completion. Developed scope for the effort and managed to this scope to ensure project was completed as scheduled and to desired quality.
- Upgraded hardware and software from a variety of Windows and Unix boxes to a VMWare environment.
Reading “above the fold” results in this candidate being set aside. Why? Even though the candidate had 17 years of application development experience in large enterprises, there was nothing said about it “above the fold” or “on the first screen”. Looking at the rest of her resume’, she appeared to be eminently qualified, but the typical reviewer never would have known as the relevant skills and experience began towards the bottom of the page.
(“set aside”. What a pleasant euphenism for “rejected”)
My recommendation: Look at the last several job inquiries you’ve made, and compare your resume’ “above the fold” to the job description. Does it line up with the top three or four skills / experiences for that position?
If it doesn’t, you have work to do.