With less than 7 seconds to spare at initial glance of a candidate’s resume, hiring managers and recruiters quickly scan certain items when deciding whether to move the candidate to the next stage. There are a multitude of things to look at on a resume these days, but hiring managers and recruiters want to know that a candidate can jump into the position quickly and effortlessly. Here are a few elements of a resume they drill down on at first glance:

1. The Look of the Resume

The aesthetics of your resume matter. Your resume must be formatted properly with effective headings, plenty of margin around paragraphs, a font that is easy on the reader’s eyes, and concise content. A hiring manager or recruiter does not have time to read multiple paragraphs of job descriptions or pages of detail. Keep your resume to one page if you have less than 10 years of professional experience and keep your resume to two pages if you have over 10 years of professional experience. Use multiple bullet points to describe your responsibilities, accomplishments, and overall impact at any listed position.

2. Current Company and Position

Hiring managers and recruiters take closer consideration when looking at a candidate's current position and organization. Make sure that you properly describe what you're doing and where you're doing it, as this description will be the easiest thing for them to lean on when evaluating you against the job description.

If you're applying for a similar job, hammer home what you're doing now to present yourself as an easy fit. If you're applying for a new role or trying to move further up the managerial ladder, make sure the content reflects steps you've taken to prepare yourself accordingly. For example, a bullet point might mention that you took on managing a project and successfully led your team to its goals.


3. Supported Skills and Accomplishments

Do you list yourself as results-oriented, tenacious, and accomplished? Does your resume back that up?

A great resume will connect the dots of your experience and education to demonstrate a clear vision of who you are and your problem-solving capabilities. It will tell the hiring manager that you are results-oriented, tenacious, and accomplished without needing you to spell it out for them.

Show examples of tenacity and results-oriented behavior. Did you increase sales, streamline a process, take on an ambitious role, or successfully execute a side project? Listing these accomplishments throughout your experience will have a far greater impact than generically adding verbs to the top of the resume. Instead, you might consider listing direct skills that are relevant and desired for the positions you're applying for -- like technical training or sales management certifications.

4. Cover Letter

Many candidates avoid sending a cover letter with their resume under the presumption that the hiring manager or recruiter will not bother reading it. A resume is the marketing document of your experience, but your cover letter is the marketing document of your personality. The cover letter is your opportunity to highlight your skillset and relevant professional attributes in the context of a more personalized story or conversation with the company. Don't slouch on your customized cover letters!

With each cover letter, briefly recap your professional experience, leading to a short description of how you'd apply your current skillset and continue to grow if given the opportunity, paired with a few sentences about why you'd fit at this particular organization. Highlight familiarity with the industry or role you're applying for and talk about how the position fits in with your long-term career goals.

With a job market that is more competitive than ever, 7 seconds is all you’ve got. Show the hiring manager and recruiter why it’s worth their time to read your entire resume and advance you to the next stage of the interviewing process.

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