Creating a Resume That Gets Attention

Creating a resume that is compelling and lands you the interview makes you marketable. Follow the tips on this page to turn your resume into one that's unforgettable.

6 Seconds To Impress.

How much time does a recruiter spend reading your resume?

I was blown away when I discovered research that reveals recruiters spend only 6 seconds reviewing an individual resume. (1)

SIX seconds!

Make the most of your 6 seconds. Follow these four steps to creating a resume that really stands out:

         Page Contents:

  1. Get The Basics Right
  2. Use Keywords
  3. Market Yourself
  4. Quantify Performance

Get the basics right

Your resume or CV exists to get you an interview, not a job. This means your resume must impress the employer and set you apart from all the others.

And, you have just 6 seconds to impress.

Research shows that eighty percent of this time is spent scanning 6 areas of your resume: 

  • Name
  • Current title and employer
  • Previous title and employer
  • Previous job start and end dates
  • Current job start and end dates
  • Education

That's it! Just six areas of your resume in less than 6 seconds.

If that's the case creating a resume that packs a punch needs effective design and layout.

Good layout means you're thinking about the reader rather than your need to pack your life story into a limited space. 

Resume layouts that are easy on the reader and help them find the information they need will be read. The 6 areas we've just named need to be clear, concise and easy to read.

If you are unsure about the layout of your resume find good sample resumes online and use these as a guide. Note the use of different font styles, sizes and use of white space.

A quick tip...

Stick to black and white, don't use photographs and do use bullet points.

What about the 20 percent?

Ah, you remembered!

80% of scanning time is focused on the six areas we've just been talking about. The remaining 20% is spent scanning for keywords related to the post being filled.

Keywords are so important when creating a resume we'll deal with them in their own section next.

Use Keywords

These days it's normal to think of the best keyword combination to use for a Google search. But what's that got to do with creating a resume?

Your resume needs to contain the best keywords related to the post you are applying for. Why? A simple reason...


Many employers and agents receive huge numbers of resumes for the posts they advertise. 20 percent of scanning time is spent looking for keywords that relate to the post. 

Computer programs, known as applicant tracking systems, are also used to scan thousands of resumes for post related keywords in order to create a shortlist.

If your resume has the 'right' keywords it's placed on the shortlist.

If not...

...well, you can guess where it goes.

This is one resume writing tip you don't want to ignore...

Change your resume for each post you apply for by using current and relevant keywords related to your career.

Start thinking about the keywords used to describe main job functions in your area of interest. These keywords and keyword phrases are search terms that would be used to find skills and experience in a job.

For example, if an employer needs 'report writing skills' your resume will not make the shortlist unless it contains those keywords. 

Next, build a list of valid keywords by reading the advert for the job you're applying for. Read adverts placed by other employers using that job title and notice which keywords are used.

Use these keywords throughout your resume.


...don't load them all in one place and make sure they make sense in the context of the sentence.

Some examples of keywords and phrases might be:

  •     time management skills
  •     commitment to quality
  •     sales experience
  •     sales and communication abilities
  •     strategic planning 

These keywords are not always the same as the 'action' words that should also appear in your resume.

Make sure you find and use keywords that are relevant to your career. These keywords and 'action' words are essential when creating a resume and your cover letter.

Market Yourself

One problem with creating a resume is that it's really hard to write about yourself. When we do we either don't sell ourselves enough (often the case) or we lay it on too thick.

I really do hope you will get to write your autobiography, but I'm sorry to tell you that this is not that time! To write your resume you have to think about yourself as a product that delivers (and gets on with people).

A professional resume writer can add huge value to your resume as they know how to achieve this balance. These guys know to create a high quality resume that gives you the best chance to be noticed and the cost of the service is a small percent of your first paycheck.

Your features

Question mark. What are your special features?Image by Anemone123

Take time to think about your 'special features'. Your resume needs to tell employers and agents what the product (that's you!) can do for them and why they need it.

This means you should focus on the employers needs, not yours. Ask yourself, "What is it that they need"?

Believe me, the employer is not simply trying to fill a space. They need someone who can give them what they need.

What is it that they need?

For example, an employer looking for a report writer needs someone who is able to write reports, but also someone who meets deadlines, can make decisions and pay attention to detail.

When you've answered "What is it that they need"? think about how you can turn your key features into benefits for the employer.

In other words...

...give them what they need.

Unsure about your 'special features'? Work through this personal assessment to get great ideas.

True career happiness comes from taking the time to build self-knowledge. Creating a resume that stands out from others starts with defining your personality, skills, values and abilities.

Use this great 4-part assessment created to help you learn more about yourself. The four parts of your Personal Assessment are:

Start with the Basic Life Skills assessment and I'll guide you through the other assessments.

It's worth taking the time to complete each part because you can use your self-knowledge to help you choose a career, write your resume, complete job applications and prepare for job interviews.

Turning features into benefits when creating a resume

Not long ago I talked to someone in car sales about turning features into benefits and he really helped me 'get it'. He told me that a car has a basic set of key features.

Just telling people what these are gives him, let's say, a 1 in 20 chance of selling a car.

These odds are improved when he takes a little more time to listen to the person who wants to buy a car.  

Then he tells them about those same features in ways that matter to them.

So, for example, an electric window is a key feature. To a mom wanting a car to transport children an electric window is not going to be the reason she buys the car.

Telling her about the "anti-pinch" safe device that stops the window if fingers get in the way when it closes may help make the sale. It's the same feature but with a focus on what the person needs.

So, what are your key features? One of the best resume writing tips is to make sure you turn your key features into something valuable for the company you are selling yourself to. 

This means that when creating a resume you must find out about the employer and the post they're filling - and you need to know yourself.

Quantify Performance

Employers and their agents love numbers. Numbers talk. So let them talk for you.

creating a resume leads to an interview. A woman being interviewed.Photo courtesy of WOCinTech Chat

It's easy to forget to mention the numbers that are linked to your performance. You may not even know that there are numbers that can be linked to what you've done.

I'd like to suggest that you think about the ways in which your hard work and success can be measured.

Use numbers as a way to measure your success. 

For example:

Good: established an internal auditing program, and created an IA team, ensuring continuous improvement.
: established an internal auditing program within 2 months and led a team of 20 professional auditors that cut company costs by 35 percent.

Most employers are concerned about money and anything to do with making and saving money. When creating a resume tap into this concern by including the figures related to the work you do. This might include:

  • The number of people you manage
  • Sales figures you've achieved
  • Increase in productivity and efficiency (as a percent or use figures)
  • The awards you've won
  • The articles you've published
  • Budgets you've managed
  • How much money you've saved your employer / made for your employer
  • Time you've saved

For example:

Good: Supervised interns and generated news stories
: Supervised 15 interns for 12 months and wrote 20 news stories per week for 3 publications.

If you have achievements that cannot be measured by numbers think of the broader context and use those numbers.

For example:

Good: Selected for leadership program
: Selected for leadership program from a group of 85 applicants.

If you're not able to quantify your achievements then ensure that you use action words to boost all you've done.

Review your current resume and see if you can find ways to add the numbers that pack a punch to your achievements.

"Can I do this?"


Start at the beginning. Use a resume sample or template and create a resume. Once you have this you can work on perfecting it.

If you struggle or don't feel confident try my 10 best resume tips or contact the resume writing service for professional help. They're the only professional resume writing service I've found that offer a 100% money back guarantee.

They'll help you:

  • Deal with gaps in your resume
  • Write a career change resume: some ideas and help
  • Find resume samples

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(1) Eye Tracking Online Metacognition: Cognitive Complexity and Recruiter Decision Making. Will Evans, Head of User Experience Design, TheLadders. 2012. (.pdf download)

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