Have you read a news story and thought to yourself, "That was well worth reading"? That's because a news story - whether online, on television or in your local newspaper (yes, newspapers still exist) - follows certain guidelines to grab and keep your attention. Which is very important when you're competing for readers and viewers.
A well-written resume should follow some of the same guidelines. After all, isn't the point of your resume to generate interest and keep people reading?
Here are some lessons you can crib from the news to make your resume more compelling.
- Start with a compelling headline. That short phrase or paragraph before the story is intended to pull you into reading the story. It can be informational, sensationalist or just plan descriptive. Similarly, a resume can often have a brief line or two just below your name and contact information that gives a clear, succinct idea of what kind of skills you have. If you're looking to hire a sales director, wouldn't seeing "Proven Sales Leader" at the top of the resume make you want to dig deeper?
- Follow with a strong lede. In news-speak, a lede is the first paragraph of the story. Appearing right after the headline, the lede is attention-getting and punchy, and it contains the summary of what follows. It sets up the rest of the story. A good resume can also have a strong opener - whether it's a stated objective, or some other summary - which sells your strongest and most marketable assets and/or accomplishments.
- Consider the inverted pyramid. A news article isn't like an essay, which starts with a hypothesis, builds the case, then ends with a summary. A news piece follows the "inverted pyramid" structure, where the most important facts are at the top, and subsequent paragraphs are less important. The reason for this is simple - if a story as written contains 10 paragraphs, but the newspaper only has space for eight, guess what happens. The last two paragraphs get slashed off to fit the space, but the point of the story still gets across. When presenting a resume, assume your reader will have less interest in it as he or she progress, so front-loading with critical facts and most relevant experiences and skills is essential.
- Formatting matters. News stories are edited to fit a particular style. They fill their space in an efficient manner, and have a certain look and feel. Formatting matters in presenting a resume as well. A well-formatted resume conveys organized thoughts in a compelling manner.
- Errors and bad grammar are killers. Have you ever read a newspaper article and come across a typo, misspelling, poor word usage or even a fact that's just plain incorrect? The newspaper's credibility takes a hit. If it happens in your resume, your credibility suffers, too. News organizations have editors on staff to hunt down errors - you should find somebody to proofread your resume with a fresh perspective.
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).
Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.