You might not know the secrets your resume reveals to recruiters and hiring managers.
What? There’s something else you have to think about when creating a resume? Yes, absolutely.
Why? Because after people read 100s or 1,000s of resumes, they recognize patterns. They see beyond obvious descriptions of work experience, skills, accomplishments, and education. In fact, they start to discern a lot of important information.
If you want to know more about the secrets resumes expose, look at the infographic. Then, read the explanation of each item in the narrative below:
1. Achievement Orientation
First, see if you use more resume space listing duties or sharing accomplishments.
Recruiters want to see bullet points that highlight your accomplishments. You have to write about your wins. If you don’t, your readers won’t know about them, and they will doubt your achievement orientation.
2. Writing Skill
3. Specific & General Mental Abilities
Next, your resume’s quality reflects your specific and general mental abilities. Recent research found SMA and GMA to be the best predictors of future job performance.
When you think about it, writing a professional resume is a lot like crafting a business case. You have to:
a. Gather information — the job description and company research.
b. Then analyze that information and identify what matters.
c. And build a rational argument to influence others to decide to interview you.
As you know, it’s not easy, but when you ace it, you look like the smartest, most attractive job applicant the company has.
4. Ability to Create & Sustain Relationships
Also very important, your professional resume shows your relationship ability. Recruiters look at your average tenure per employer. Then, they form opinions about how well you work with others.
If they notice too much turnover, they move on. If recruiters don’t see enough movement, they hesitate. They need to know you can fit into a new culture.
Thus, if you’re writing your resume, use a format that makes it easy to see your employment dates.
If you look like a risky hire, a professional resume writer can help you restructure your resume.
5. Perceived Secrets
Building on the discussion of dates above, you might also have employment gaps on your resume.
If you have more than one or a large gap, explain it in one short sentence. Don’t let your readers make stuff up (MSU) about what you were doing.
6. Context & Business Literacy
Lack of context is another type of gap that occurs on most resumes.
Be sure to help your readers understand a few basic facts about your most recent employers:
a. Size (annual revenue, assets under management, etc.).
b. Ownership model (NYSE, private equity owned, family owned, etc.).
Doing so gets you bonus points for business literacy and SMA.
7. Storytelling Ability
As you layer on perceptions from the reader’s first look forward, you start to tell a compelling story.
Good leaders communicate through stories. Thus, you share information about your leadership skills through your resume whether you mean to or not.
8. Self & Other Focus
Another leadership “tell” is your focus on your readers’ experience.
a. Have you made your resume easy to read?
b. Can a reader do a 6-second scan?
c. Can they find your accomplishments?
d. Do they understand your company well enough to keep reading, or do they have to click away to learn more about ABC Co.?
Giving your reader a good user experience demonstrates your focus on others.
9. Professional Standards
Good leaders also set high standards. A neat, well-organized resume speaks volumes about your focus on excellence.
Finally, your resume gives off a meta-impression, a gestalt, of quality or lack of quality. It’s good to know this and check your resume’s meta-message to ensure it’s positive.
Professional Resume Samples
You can see sample professional resumes here that illustrate the items on the list above.
Featured by: 3Plus International
Updated October 2022
© 2015 – 2023, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts.
She is a Fast Company Contributor and has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, US News & World Report, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, and Business News Daily.
Let her expertise inform your job search strategy and decision-making.
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Donna, this is great! Thank you for highlighting writing skills and ease of reading. I recently had a hiring manager pass on a candidate, in part, because the resume formatting was atrocious. It was very hard to read, so there was a perception of a lack of care on the candidate’s part. Not good for a position where written communication is important and was highlighted as a requirement.
Thank you for sharing.
Job seekers need to hear this type of feedback!
Great tips, thanks.
Thank you for sharing these insights, Donna. Very revealing. I’d like to add to the conversation by expanding on #1. Achievement Orientation. For those of us in the job market, we have heard about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These software systems assist employers by scoring your resume against the job requirements and then rank it against other candidates. When you list your accomplishments, you must use the same language the employer does in order to score well and be ranked in the top 5. Then, your resume is seen by human eyeballs. Luckily, new technology allows us to leverage data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze your resume against the job posting, extract the relevant keywords and merge them appropriately into your resume.
Thank you for this insight. Although I recommend starting with human eyeballs to increase your chance of getting the job. Going in through the ATS gives you 1:152 odds of getting the job.