Writing a good resume begins with understanding how people read them. By and large, they don’t. People scan resumes, sometimes for a few seconds, often less. What do they look for in this “quick scan”?

The overall layout and format tend to direct the eye to information most prominently featured and highlighted. Most readers scan for key words and phrases — or the lack of them — which is why almost every book and article written about resumes for the last 30 years recommends a key word summary or profile.

Readers also look for reasons to eliminate resumes and the candidates they represent. The hiring process, after all, is more “selection-out” than it is “selection-in”: for every resume selected in, dozens, maybe hundreds, are selected out.

So what can you do?

  • Format, write and edit your resume so both the “quick scan” and the” long read” appeal to the reader.
  • Meet or talk with people first, follow up with your resume second; if people form a favorable judgment about you then get your resume, they are more likely to read it to get more information about you.

Analogy: A Recession As a Bungee-Jump

Think of a recession as if we bungee-jumped from a bridge. Coming to the “end” of a recession is like reaching the bottom of the bungee jump; we’re not going down anymore (at least the stock market isn’t), but we’re still a long way from the bridge, especially in terms of employment.

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