Because of how difficult it is to come up with powerfully written resume content that reads well and adheres to accepted guidelines for resume writing, non-professionals (and a surprising number of actual resume writing professionals) ignore the importance of a well-conceived look and feel that is pleasing to the eye and conducive to reading. Actually, if I had to give percentages to importance, I would say that visual appeal gets 60% to content’s surprisingly low 40%. Surprised?
Think of it this way. When you submit your resume, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. In fact, it could be one of dozens (or in some cases, hundreds) of other resumes fighting for the attention of a hiring manager who may also be hiring for other positions. That’s right, this person may be looking a hundreds of resumes over the next few days when yours comes across his desk. What is going to make him take notice of yours?
During this initial resume review phase, this manager won’t be reading anything in detail. He likely has a mandate to turn the 150 resumes into 20 within the next 48 hours to make the project manageable. No matter how good your resume’s basic content may be, if there are 20 other resumes that this manager sees that quickly communicates a relevant match upon a scan with an exciting look that is easy to navigate, they will end up in the top 20 while you are left staring at the phone wondering why it isn’t ringing.
More of your resume’s content comes into play during the 2nd level of resume reviews, but by then you may already be eliminated from contention. To avoid this, be sure that your header is exciting and memorable, all the while keeping it professional. Use content placement strategies that give your document varied depth and make use of bolding, italics, and underlining to bring out important information quickly upon a scan.
First impressions are in fact lasting ones. Make yours count.
William Mitchell, Certified Professional Resume Writer
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