You may have heard that recruiters only spend eight to ten seconds looking at your resume. The truth is: This is how long they spend deciding whether to keep reading or move on. If you catch their attention, they’ll read for longer and be more likely to invite you to interview.
Unfortunately, most job seekers miss an opportunity to impress with their Work Experience section. This is one of the first places recruiters look, yet the content on many resumes isn’t delivering what they want to see.
In this article, I’m going to share a powerful shift that will make your resume “Work Experience” section stand out and grab attention so you can get more interviews and find a job faster.
What Employers Look for First on a Resume
When a recruiter or hiring manager reads your resume, they’re thinking, “Does this person have the skills and experience needed to step into this role and succeed?”
It costs a lot of money to hire and train someone, so the last thing they want to do is hire someone who won’t be able to adjust to the role and be successful there.
Your recent work experience is often the best place to find evidence of this, so it’s the first place they look. As a recruiter, I will skip your intro paragraph, skills section, and anything else that appears before Work History on your resume. I may scroll back up after, but your recent work experience is the first thing I want to see.
So now that you know what the hiring manager is thinking during that first glance at your resume, what’s the best way to show them you can succeed in their job and that you deserve an interview?
The fastest and easiest way is to pack your work experience section with the specific work you’ve done and the results you’ve achieved for past employers.
You aren’t going to stand out by simply saying, “Responsible for,” over and over. Every other job seeker is doing this, and it tells hiring managers very little about how you performed in the role. You’re telling them what work was assigned to you, but not how you handled that work.
Transforming Your Resume Work Experience to Get More Interviews
The best way to make your resume stand out is to rephrase your bullet points and descriptions of past roles to eliminate phrases like, “responsible for,” and replace them with sentences beginning with a verb like, “led,” “managed,” “created,” etc.
Instead of writing, “Responsible for managing a team of 5 customer service associates on a daily basis,” you’d write, “Led a team of 5 customer service associates, guiding day-to-day work and team strategy.”
Writing your resume with an active voice will set you apart and get hiring managers more excited about the idea of having you on their team (and therefore more excited to interview you).
That’s not the final step, though. There’s one more important tactic to fully transform your resume from a generic “responsible for” resume to a results-driven interview magnet…
Add Data and Metrics to Further Stand Out
Before finalizing your resume, you should look for opportunities to add numbers, data, and metrics to your bullets and descriptions of past work.
Let’s look at the same customer service bullet example from above. We previously wrote: “Led a team of 5 customer service associates, guiding day-to-day work and team strategy.”
Here’s how we could make this even better by adding data and metrics:
“Led a team of 5 customer service associates, guiding the team to serve an average of 300 customers per day with a customer satisfaction rating of 98.9%.”
Overall, you can include all sorts of data on your resume, including:
- Percent increases (for example, if you helped the company grow its customer base by 20%)
- Percent decreases (if you reduced the average order processing time by 5%)
- Dollar figures (helping the company earn money or save money)
- Number of employees (headcounts you’ve managed, either directly or for a certain project/task)
- Number of projects or pieces of work (for example, “Produced an average of 15 in-depth articles per month for corporate website blog”)
Numbers and symbols (like $ and %) make your resume stand out visually so recruiters and hiring managers will stop skimming and start reading carefully!
You can also cite metrics from your company as a whole. For example, if you’re the head of content creation for a company’s blog, you could say, “Led and coordinated content creation for corporate blog read by 240,000 visitors per month”.
This gives you yet another angle you can use to list accomplishments and metrics. As long as you helped contribute to the effort, it’s fine to list.
After you’ve added numbers and metrics to your resume work history section, consider adding one or two of the most impressive figures to your resume summary, too. Since this section appears high up on your resume, it also gets seen by most employers and recruiters, and is another opportunity to grab their attention to make them stop scrolling and start reading more closely!
Is Your Work Experience Section Optimized for the Job?
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Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter and highly sought-after job search and career advice expert. His website, Career Sidekick, is read by more than one million people per month and has been mentioned in INC, Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, and more. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 on how to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive jobs in less time and with less stress.