What Is The Purpose Of A Résumé?
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”—Abraham Lincoln
In my last blog post, I talked about Introducing You in Your Résumé. So now we need to talk about what the purpose of a résumé is so you can have this in mind as you build yours.
Employers and applicants have diametrically opposing perspectives on résumés.
An Employer’s purpose:
A typical ad in the Los Angeles Times some years ago drew at least 200 to 300 résumés, and you can double or triple that number when unemployment is high. A typical ad from an online job bank can generate anywhere from 200 to 1,000 responses.
For online job applications, most organizations have software that will scan your résumé for key words associated with the job you’re applying for. If you don’t have enough of these key words, your résumé won’t be selected. It will be placed in the “No” pile.
When individuals review submitted résumés for a job posting, they may take as little as 6-10 seconds to look for reasons to eliminate résumés from the stack. They place as many résumés as possible in the “No” category. Employers only want to talk to ten to fifteen people in the first round of interviews.
What an employer looks for in résumés depends on the employer, but a few things generally hold true. It’s important to know this so you can be sure to provide this information in your résumé and cover letter.
- Skill level: First, a prospective employer wants to see that you have the skills to do the job. A clear delineation of your work history and responsibilities, along with descriptive accomplishment statements, will spell out your roles, abilities, and skills for the reader.
- Achievements: Second, employers want to see that you’ve used your skills to achieve success in the past. The positions you’ve held say little about what you actually accomplished.
- Accomplishment statements demonstrate your success and provide concrete examples of what you actually did on the job. Employers can relate to these descriptions of performance.
- If your résumé could be viewed as a horror story, mystery, or comedy, then it will go in the “No” pile. If your résumé is sloppy, if it’s difficult to read, if it doesn’t show basic qualifications, if it doesn’t make it easy for readers to find what they need, then it will go in the “No” pile. If it contains typos, is too cutesy, doesn’t show your ability to do the job, or doesn’t have adequate white space, then into the “No” pile it goes. That’s the employer’s goal.
Your purpose as a prospective employee is just the opposite.
- Since yours is one of the 300-plus résumés sitting in the stack, you first want to ensure that it’s read. This means that your résumé must have eye appeal, the font must be easy to read. Its layout must attract the reader. There must be a healthy balance between white space and content. The format must be professional.
- Second, your résumé must address the key points and requirements for the particular position. Your accomplishments need to demonstrate that you have the expertise and experience to perform the responsibilities associated with the job you are applying for.
- Third, your résumé must raise some questions to pique the reader’s curiosity. These are not questions about your basic qualifications or what you have to offer. Rather, they’re questions that stimulate the reader’s interest. Questions such as:
- I wonder how he did that.
- So, what caused her to address this issue?
- I’m curious about the methods she used to
achieve this result.
- Now, how did he make that happen?
If you achieve this, then your résumé will likely be placed in the “Yes” pile.
If you follow the advice provided here, and if you apply for positions where you meet the basic qualifications, then you should succeed in getting a high percentage of interviews.
Now, you won’t get interviews 100% of the time because you won’t always understand the unspoken criteria the employer may have. However, in my own experience, I can attest to clients receiving invitations to interview about 80% of the time when they use résumés we help them build and that incorporate the strategies you have learned.
You can use this information to better understand what the employer is looking to see in your resume and tailor your content to demonstrate that you have the understanding of the job, the expertise to perform the job tasks, and the experience to respond to the questions that come up from day-to-day in that position. But first, you must get your resume in the “Yes” pile. These tips can help you do that!
This is an excerpt from my book “The Christian Job Search Manual,” click on this link to purchase the book.
If you would like to explore working with a Christian centered Career Coach, Contact me for a no-obligation 60-90 minute job search consultation with America’s Job Searching Coach, or text me at 425-220-0707 and we can discuss your situation, your résumé, what you would like to achieve, and structure your job search to fit your uniqueness.
I am also available to speak to groups.