There is a rumor out in the world that the attention span of your “average American” is getting shorter. Sad to say, but most likely very true. We see it all around us. So many things are screaming for our attention on a given day.
Before the advent of computers it was quite a bit harder to respond to job postings. The gold standard was a personally written letter, and how many could a person crank out in a single day? I type 90 words a minute, and when I was in the Army I was fortunate to be in a clerical position where I had my very own typewriter. Still, I couldn’t write very many letters in a single day for that first job campaign of mine. In 1991 with a personal computer and a mail merge program I could plug and chug. Now in 2018 it is even easier. Heck, I communicate with 40,000+ folks every day!
Even our newsletter is a perfect example of how the world has changed. We publish about 600 pages of job leads each month. Even 20 years ago it would not even have been possible for a networking group such as ours to exist. The cost of physically distributing the newsletter would have been prohibitive. Not only would it have required a huge professional staff to retype and reformat each lead, but copying and collating would have been pretty expensive as well. And, we still haven’t talked about the postage cost. In our context, the job would have to be well written to get OUR attention.
One can’t truly appreciate what it takes to stand out in today’s world until you have seen it for yourself, so I have designed a little test that I would like all of you to try.
The subject of this test is your resume. Take one copy of your resume and examine it in detail. Absorb its format and the information it contains. Now, I want you to try to collect 200-300 resumes. Go to networking meetings and get one from everyone you meet. Write to other members of The FENG and ask for copies of theirs. If you are using the services of an outplacement service, walk around the office and collect one from everyone. Do this over the course of as many weeks as it takes to at least reach 200. Don’t throw any of them away. Keep collecting.
Now I want you to take your resume and put it somewhere in the pile. It probably would be best if it was somewhere near the bottom, but since you should do this a few times to really appreciate what I am trying to communicate, it doesn’t matter.
Okay, you have 1 hour to go through all of the resumes in the pile and find only 10 that stand out. (Good luck Mr. Phelps.)
The point is that this is what recruiters do every day, day in and day out. The same thing is true for all of those human resource departments. The unsolicited and solicited resumes come in by the HUNDREDS. So, does your resume stand out in that huge pile?
This little experiment should give you some sense of why your dear friend Mr. Magoo (that’s me) recommends 1 inch margins and 12 point type. My guess is that you won’t pick even one densely written resume. Unless some effort has been made to make company names and titles clear, you won’t pick those either.
I realize that you may feel the many details you are providing are very important, but this is the context into which you are throwing your opus. If the information you want to communicate cannot be absorbed at a glance, you stand no chance of being called for an interview. More importantly you have no chance of anyone reading further to learn more about you. The formatting of the “headlines” of your credentials is what brings the page flipping to a stop.
You have about 5 seconds to get your intended reader’s attention. And, remember, this is the job they have to do every day. They have no responsibility to ensure that you are considered. They have no requirement to read and reread to ensure that they haven’t missed someone important.
No my friends, the burden is on you. Take the “at a glance test” and see if you pass.
I know you are important and the perfect solution to any problem. Let’s make sure they know.