High Scoring First Half

Many football teams agree the best way to ensure a victory is to put as many points on the board as possible in the first half. A strong start is always the ideal. Few want to rely on luck of a phenomenal 2nd half to get the job done. I have the same opinion of resumes. That first half, if not quarter, has to score a lot of points with employers. Busy hiring managers are fair weather fans and will leave the game early  if it appears the team they are watching isn’t a winner. They’ve got better things to do than stick around until the end for the final score.

For resumes, points come from content that speaks directly to the actual need of the organization. Information at the top of the resume that doesn’t sell how the candidate fits the job or would benefit the company fails to move the ball toward the goal line. If a company wants A, B & C, it makes no sense to lead with D, E & F…no matter how great D, E & F are.

To give an example, I’d like to share a story about Bill (not his real name). Bill is a great guy with a lot to offer. He applied to a payroll position that complimented experience he had from a few years back. He could easily do the job and was disappointed to not even get so much as a “no thank you” letter from the company. When we looked at his resume the word ‘payroll’ didn’t even appear until the bottom third of his resume. To make matters worse, it was a simple one line mention of processing payroll and benefits for company employees. Bill’s 10  years of payroll processing experience was a casual mention late in the game in a resume that should have been giving the reader something to cheer about early on. When I pointed this out to Bill he saw the problem right away. It was the classic case of Bill knowing he could do the job and failing to adequately make the case on paper to a person who can only judge his skills by the evidence in his resume.

Learn from Bill’s experience how important it is to hit key points early on in your resume. Candidates knowing they can do a job isn’t enough. Some will say, “if they’d just interview me I could explain my background better.” Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way. As I said above, hiring managers are fans drawn to clear winners. If you’re competing against others who have scored points early on, they are going to eat up an employer’s available interview time. Game over.

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