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Does Your Resume Have What It Takes To Survive The First Cut?

Qualifications" or "Personal Profile") uses bullets and succinct wording to highlight what is likely to most intrigue the employer. Before writing this section, make a list of the 5 to 10 criteria that are most likely to guide the employer's choice - then summarize your qualifications in a way that speaks directly to the employer's interests.

The last 15 seconds?

If your resume is visually pleasing and starts with an effective summary, your reader will naturally want to scan the rest of it. At this point, the employer will look for: confirmation that you meet the job's requirements, supporting evidence for your summary section, and any intriguing details that add to the picture of what you would be like to work with.

Your job is to consider where the reader's eye is most likely to be drawn, and use these places to your advantage. They include: section headings, subheadings, the first sentence or two immediately under headings, position titles, bulleted lists (especially the top one or two items), words in bold, words in italic, and numerals (i.e. numbers that are not spelled out).

Consider all of these to be tools at your disposal when creating scan appeal. Is there an accomplishment, for example, that you want to highlight? Try putting it at the top of a bulleted list and including one or two numerals (such as "reduced costs by 10%" or "supervised a staff of 12"). If appropriate, use some bold or italic either within the item or in the wording that introduces it.

Testing for Scan Appeal

Your resume should be tested for scan appeal before any copies go out. You must be able to answer two questions? Given just 30 seconds to convince the employer to consider you, what must you bring to his or her attention? And, what does your resume actually convey in a 30-second scan?

To conduct a preliminary test yourself, review your employment strategy - i.e. list the top five things you think are most important for the employer to know about you. Then look at the parts of your resume most likely to be seen in a scan, and make sure each item has been highlighted in some way.

For an even more telling test, give your resume to several people who don't know you well, and time them as they scan it for 30 seconds. When they are done, have them set the resume aside and jot down everything they remember.

Would the information they noticed and remembered provide compelling reasons for the employer to hire you? If the answer is yes, your resume has excellent scan appeal.

© 2005 Ruth Anderson

Ruth Anderson is the owner of Vantage Point Coaching & Consulting and author of WRITE RESUMES WITH CONFIDENCE: How to Create Outstanding Resumes and Have the Confidence to Use Them with Success. Learn more about her products and services, including the unique INTRODUCTION TO COACHING and JOB SEARCH TUNE-UP programs, at or write

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