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How Soon Will Your Resume Go In The Trash?

Hi JHS followers,

I just got out of a career seminar on “perfecting your resume.” That’s right, even though I’m not looking for a job now, I still go to career seminars and monitor the most recent trends. I learned something interesting at the seminar and can’t wait to test your knowledge here:

How many seconds do you think the recruiter or hiring manager will spend on your resume before he or she decides to move forward with your application or trash it?

A. 5 Min B. 2 Min C. 45 Seconds D. 20 Seconds.

Pick your answer and we will start from there.

Waiting for your answer…..

Ready for the result?

D. 20 seconds. Believe it or not.

I know, It hurts. After all the hours and effort spent on your resume, you only get a 20-second chance? What can you do to prevent your resume from winding up in the trash at the end of those 20 seconds?

It’s easy: make your resume as perfect as possible.

Here’s how:

  • Format

You can pick either a CHRONOLOGICAL RESUME or a FUNCTIONAL RESUME, depending on the stage of your career and your specific needs. Most people use the chronological format. Only certain candidates – such as people who have a long career gap, or who have stayed in a position without progression for a long time — should choose the functional resume. If you happen to be one of those people, please let me know if you need help.

  • Professionalism

If your resume is going to help you get that dream job, you need it to be professional. For instance, do not use an email address like, or list any experience that is not directly related to the job, or which might be considered negatively.

  • Relevance

Tailor your resume every time you apply for a position. Search the job description to find key words that link you to the job, and use them as much as possible. For instance, if you are applying for an accountant position that requires SAP experience, make sure you list SAP in your resume. If you are a recent graduate, it’s perfectly okay to list relevant courses to increase your resume keyword matching, It works!

  • Grammar

Do not let grammar or spelling mistakes disqualify you. It’s quite normal to make an occasional typo, but not on your resume. You only have a 20-second chance, so don’t let silly mistakes trash your resume. Ask your friends and career coach to review your resume as often as possible.

A tip for those whose first language is not English: make sure you think and describe your experience like a native speaker, and avoid any cultural or idiomatic inconsistencies. A quick way to upgrade your resume is to look at resumes of those who have succeeded in your profession and make your resume look similar. You can also use the help of a career coach.

  • Length

Do not let your resume exceed two pages. Most people only look at the first page before deciding whether they’d like to continue on. In extreme cases you may need more pages, but expect that people won’t see much beyond the second page.

I get this question from time to time: how can I make my resume exactly one page or two pages long? I don’t know where this concern is coming from, but it doesn’t really matter, as long as your resume is well constructed. If you can’t make it exactly one or two pages, make it one-and-a-half pages by increasing the paragraph space. It won’t hurt your chances either way.

  • Personal branding

If you are applying for an entry-level position, what makes you different? If you are working for a large company that has 20 (or 200!) people who are doing the same job as you, with the same title as you, what is your competitive advantage? How do you differentiate yourself?

Personal branding is becoming more and more popular these days, Think about what makes you unique and how you can stand out. Let me know if you need any help.

Happy Job Hunting!

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