How to Make Your Resume Irresistible to Recruiters

Confident student with magnetThe purpose of a resume is to land you a job interview.

Simple, right? And yet has a million books about the best way to write a resume just so you can achieve that one goal. Why do we make this so complicated?

Writing an impressive resume is simple… if you keep two things in mind:

  • First: employers never read a resume in its entirety, and I’m willing to bet that the average resume gets read in about five seconds.
  • Second: as my father once told me, employers like numbers and statistics—hard facts that show how a candidate is directly responsible for making a company more profitable.

Now let’s be real here. If you’re still in your early 20s, the chances are not very good that you are at a high enough level to have had sole ownership of a project. However, the chances are excellent that you have had some measurable impact along the way. Did you help with a project that drove company revenue? Was there any piece of that project that you alone were responsible for?

Let’s examine how this strategy might work in two very different scenarios:

Part-time Job at the Ice Cream Shop… or Entrepreneur?

Let’s say you didn’t have internships while you were in college, but you did sell ice cream at Baskin-Robbins for four summers. While employed there, you helped the manager execute a campaign to draw in customers from a nearby shopping mall.

Here’s how most resumes would detail that experience:

  • Passed out free ice-cream-cone coupons at nearby shopping mall.

And here’s that same task written as a scan-able, quantified power statement:

  • Designed and distributed “Snack on Us” coupon campaign targeted to mall shoppers, increasing store traffic by 25 percent.

See why the power statement is better? The original statement makes it look as though you were just a passive body handing out coupons, and the reader is probably thinking that anyone could have done that job. The power statement, however, reads as though you made a significant contribution to the Baskin-Robbins corporation by creating an innovative marketing campaign.

Note that the wording of the power statement is still good even if you didn’t make the flyer all by yourself. If you had any creative input whatsoever, saying that you designed the campaign bolsters the perception of ownership. The “Snack on Us” labeling also suggests that you were responsible for branding the campaign. With one statement, you have completely changed the reader’s perception of your role from ice-cream-shop cashier to small business entrepreneur.

Administrator… of King of a Quarter-Million Dollars?

Suppose you were an account coordinator in a large consulting firm. You were the junior member of a team, perhaps an intern, that serviced a healthcare account worth $250,000 in monthly fees. Perhaps most of the real account work was left to the senior individuals on the team, but you were responsible for creating and managing the budget spreadsheets.

Here’s how most resumes would detail that experience:

  • Created and maintained budget spreadsheets for major healthcare account.

And, here’s that same statement written to accommodate the results-driven, scanning crowd:

  • Managed finances for major healthcare account that resulted in $250,000 in monthly fees.

Maybe your contribution to this account was solely administrative. The first statement reads exactly this way. The second version, however, talks to performance and responsibility; it makes a reader think that you were at least partially responsible for managing an enormous amount of company revenue. It says you are extremely trustworthy, detail-oriented and that you have a head for complicated finances.

The words you choose to communicate your experience make all the difference in whether your resume is considered average or fantastic… if the recruiter sees something important during their initial scan, or moves on to someone else more impressive… and whether you get the job interview, or not.

With a little creativity and positive positioning, even the most mundane tidbits of experience can make your resume irresistible to recruiters!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Simply Hired!


Simply Hired


Alexandra LevitAbout the Author: Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people succeed in meaningful jobs, and to build relationships between organizations and top talent. A former nationally syndicated columnist for the Wall Street Journal and a current writer for the New York Times, Alexandra is the author of the bestselling book, They Don’t Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty-Something’s Guide to the Business World, which was just re-released by Career Press in a 10th Anniversary Edition.



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