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Prioritizing the Content in Your Resume

Whether you are right out of college struggling to fill your resume with relevant experience or you’ve been working for 35 years and you have enough experience to fill 20 pages, it’s very important to prioritize the content of your resume. No matter how much, or little, content you have to fill your resume with, you need to prioritize the information so that the important details stand out. The average hiring manager looks at a resume for a total of 6 seconds before they decide if they are going to pass or continue reading. If they don’t see the information they are looking for fast enough, there is a good chance your resume will be passed up. In this job market, you need to do everything you can to make yourself stand out from other applicants.

Here are a few suggestions to help you prioritize your resume:

Take into consideration the employer and the position.

In order to prioritize your content you have to understand what the potential employer is looking for in a candidate. To figure that out, take into consideration the position you are applying for.  What are they looking for, what are the requirements and qualifications, what type of person will fit best into their organization? Reading the full job description and researching the company will help you answer some of those questions.

If you are applying to several jobs, do this for each one. Each resume you send out should be customized to each application, even if it’s the same information, there are ways you can organize it to make certain parts stand out to different people. Once you can narrow these down you can move on to the next step…

Choose your content.

Whether you have been working for years or you’re fresh out of college with very little work experience, you have to sift through your content and decide what is most important.  The best way to do this is to first list your previous jobs/internships and duties. Once you have your list, start going through and narrow it down to the skills and qualifications you have that fit the job description and what the employer is looking for. Make sure you have the right industry keywords as well, which we talked about in a previous article, SEO for Resumes.

Another tip is to make sure and quantify as much information as possible, add dollar signs, percentages and numbers to back up your information. Saying you “increased sales by 60%” has a greater impact on the hiring manager than simply saying that you “increased sales”. Remember, the person reviewing your resume doesn’t have the time to read through its entirety, if they don’t find what they are looking for right away you won’t stand a chance. It is your job to make it easy for them.

Make it Stand Out

Now that you have your content and you know which parts are the most important, you need to decide where to place it in your layout. To do this, ask yourself which pieces of information are the most relevant to the job you are seeking. No matter what format you choose, make sure that the most relevant information is at the top of the job description. For example, an employer would like to read how you increase sales before they read that you know how to use Microsoft Office. You can also add a section dedicated to just listing your skills. When it comes to layout, just use common sense and always keep the employer in mind.

Still having trouble making your resume pop? Our upcoming article, The Resume Format, will provide you with some more guidelines. If you think you need even more help, or want to be sure that your resume stands out, contact us at 248-616-9600 or, to discuss our professional writing services.