Just as technology has changed at a rapid pace over the past decade, so too have our methods of communication and, most dramatically, our attention spans.
In fact a recent study by Microsoft looked at the change in attention spans by comparing what was happening with your focus in the year 2000 to 2013.
The study found that the average attention span was 12 seconds in 2000. Fast forward to 2013, and that already short length of time had reduced to just 8 seconds.
That reduction – no doubt led by our habits with technology – carries great implications for job-seekers, and the way they present themselves and their resumes to potential employers.
In today’s fast-paced jobs markets where the attention span of recruiters is just as short as the rest of us, you need to change and adapt. Given your resume is the generally first point of contact you’ll have with a recruiter, here are some top tips for resumes in 2016.
Tip 1: Brevity is the key
Just like our attention spans, you need to shorten and sharpen up your resume. The days of 10-page resumes with long blocks of text are long gone. Design plays a big role in today’s resumes. Bold headings and standout subtitles, dot points and punchy section layouts are essential, particularly given so many people these days are scan readers, meaning their eyes follow standout elements on a page, rather than reading through each line carefully and methodically.
Tip 2: Put critical information at the top
Newspaper and online media editors know that people rarely make it all the way to the bottom of a news story. That’s why so much emphasis is placed on the headline and the first one or two sentences of any news article. The same theory applies to your resume. Make sure your personal brand statement, key dates in your work history and other pertinent information is the first thing they see on your resume.
Tip 3: Find a good editor
It can be very difficult to capture all of the information and experience you want to convey in the shorter page space that today’s attention spans require. It’s even harder to do it when you’re writing about yourself. The temptation is to put down every last detail of your great and wonderful achievements and experience. But we know that job recruiters have a huge pile of resumes to get through, and that’s just to filter all of the applications down to a short list. Finding someone who has the ability to look objectively at your long list of achievements and experience and distill it all into a succinct document can really take your resume to the next level and make sure it gets through to that short-list.
Tip 4: Pictures and graphics are more important than ever
Studies have proven that people remember and retain information that was presented in a combined visual and text form far more than if it was just presented in text only. Use the results of these studies to your advantage when putting together your resume. Whether it’s a graph, chart of infographic, there are lots of visual ways you can present key information in your resume that will help it stand out from the crowd.
Tip 5: Target the issue your future employer cares about: their bottom line
Tough economies, shrinking profits, slow growth: these are all factors impacting most businesses in just about every industry. While this present challenges for the business, it can provide an opportunity for you, the job-seeker. See if there are ways you can connect the dots on your resume between your experience and the ways it could help drive profits for your potential employer. How did your tasks and duties contribute to the success of your previous workplaces? What efficiencies, innovations and proposals did you bring to the company that helped its profitability? If you can find a way to link the two, your future boss will be very impressed because it shows you care about the thing they strive for: a healthy budget bottom line.
Your resume is a potential passport into a new job, so make sure you take advantage of the latest tips and riding the trends to help give you the edge you need.
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