Writing Your Own Resume: Helpful, or a Waste of Time?

September 19, 2013 by Careerminds

For a lot of us, this isn’t even a question. Of course I’ll write my own resume, I also tie my own shoes. Recent research tells us that this may not be as simple a task as we have always thought. Recruiters and hiring managers look over dozens of cover letters and resumes each day, and they are looking for some very specific things. If those things aren’t readily visible or even present, your resume could wind up in recycling.

The seemingly simple task of documenting your experience on a piece of paper is far more involved than that, and this is why many job seekers are leaving it up to the professionals. The Ladders conducted an eye-tracking study of how recruiters review resumes. Eye tracking research uses technology to analyze focal points and how long the viewer stays focused on those points.

This research has brought professional resume writers some pretty comprehensive details, helping them to scientifically craft the best resumes. The Ladder’s research studied recruiters and asked them to view different types of resumes, profiles and candidate information. As recruiters reviewed this information, they were studied to find out exactly how recruiters digest it.

Here are the main points found from the study:

The average job candidate believes that their resume will be reviewed for anywhere from 4-5 minutes. On the contrary, recruiters make their initial decision on a resume within 6 seconds. This information can make a huge impact on the way that candidates structure the information within the resume, based on the position for which they are applying.

The inside information that professional resume writers have on the way that recruiters scan and process resumes does in fact make it easier for recruiters to locate and focus on the information that is relevant to their decision. In other words, this study did find that recruiters reacted favorably to professionally written resumes.

The research found that online profiles were less effective than traditional resumes. It turns out that pictures, which are present on just about every online profile, kept the recruiter from locating relevant information like skills and experience in a timely manner. Pictures tend to capture attention, and that’s not where the candidate needs the recruiter to look.

According to a Dice article, “When it comes to reviewing resumes and online profiles, the recruiters turned out to be a fairly predictable bunch. The study found that professionally organized documents rated higher in usability, showing a 60% improvement over those that were compiled by candidates. The most often heard comment was that the re-written resumes were easier to read.”

Because professional resume writers know exactly where recruiters are looking, how long they’re looking and what they want to see. These types of resumes do significantly better. Although a self-written resume might look fully organized and detailed, it is not necessarily in optimal form for recruiters.

A big part of our outplacement services have to do with resume writing. Our experts guide candidates on exactly how to craft a resume for optimal results. We focus on several key factors to help get these candidates placed quickly. These are just some of our favorite resume secrets.

Eye-tracking technology proves that recruiters will spend about 80% of their time on your resume looking for these few simple points:

  • Name
  • Current Title and Company
  • Previous Title and Company
  • Start and End Dates for Both
  • Education

We know what they’re looking for and we know how to help them find it:

  • The resume needs a clean visual layout.
  • Avoid clutter and clean it up.
  • No large blocks of text. The eye loves white space.
  • Clean up online profiles and use a clean and simple picture. Make pertinent information bold and easy to find.
  • Because there is a large focus on the current and last position held, use descriptive titles and make dates clear.

Again, the candidate has 6 seconds to get their foot in the door. Professional resume writers know exactly how to optimize that very small window of time. This is why we offer professional resume writing assistance as part of our outplacement services.


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