Write for the Reader: How to Gain a Hiring Manager’s Perspective and Increase Your Value
I read many, many resumes each month, yet I’m still surprised how many people have trouble looking at things from the hiring manager’s point of view. This is the most core issue with the majority of resumes I see, and it’s perfectly fixable once you wrap your head around the problem. In any form of persuasive writing – and make no mistake, a resume is a persuasive document – you need to step outside of your own perspective and understand that your resume is going to be read and interpreted by a person who has never met you, and doesn’t care about you until you give him/her a reason.
This brings us to one of my most important resume principles: Write for the Reader. Envision the busy hiring manager, sitting down at his desk, grumbling to himself and saying “We gotta hire a new web guy this month or we’re screwed”. Picture the stack of 20 resumes on his desk, and catch a glimpse of yourself as #14 in the pile. Think about all the things he has on his plate for the day, and how he really wishes he didn’t have to spend time sorting through this mess to find an employee that won’t quit in 6 months or get fired for showing up drunk. Oh, and if he sees one more objective statement that starts with “To obtain a challenging position…” he’s going to snap. Now you’re in the mind of the reader.
We’ve done the hard part and stepped through the looking glass, but what can we do with our newfound perspective? Well for starters, brevity is your friend. Be direct, concise, and show clarity and organization of thought. Don’t break out the thesaurus to impress the manager with your manufactured vocabulary. Instead, be the ONE person he doesn’t have to use a decoder ring to understand. It’s amazing how effectively you can stand out from the crowd by exercising some control and resisting your desire to aggrandize yourself. That’s my one thesaurus word for this entire article, by the way.
Another way we write for the reader is through the “So what?” method. Here, take a look at a potential resume bullet:
- Assisted with various programming projects including bug fixes and code rewrites
Now we ask ourselves “So what? What’s in it for your new boss? Why do they care?” Let’s try the rewrite.
- Initiated a project to identify and eliminate hanging orders which were responsible for over $28,000 in unrecognized revenue through faulty programming errors
Now that’s writing for the reader! We’ve shown a potential employer the kinds of things we’re able to do for them. The “So what?” method is a great exercise for your entire resume. It forces you to write about the end result your achievements and actions had for the company or the department. It’s a powerful way to write and your future manager is going to eat it up. So with each of your job entries, I challenge you to ask “So what?” and really dig down uncover your value to an organization.
This is my mindset each and every time I write a resume and cover letter for Executive Drafts. The result? My clients are immediately noticed as clear, direct professionals who add measurable value to their employers. That’s what gets you hired.
Featured Photo: energepic.com