During my career I have read hundreds and probably thousands of resumes. I have come to realize that I tend to make my initial assessments on a person and their experience in about 5 seconds but never more than 10 seconds. Normally when I am reviewing a resume there is a job requirement that I am looking to fill. So my initial scan is to see how many of those specific skills are reflected in the resume. This is even more the case when I am reviewing the resumes of candidates that have responded to a particular job posting.

I am not alone in this thinking. In speaking with colleagues, other recruiters and some hiring managers, many agree that their initial assessments are made very quickly. Depending on how busy I am at a given moment will determine just how deeply I get into a resume. For people that still rely on a cover letter to answer the question “Why should I invite you in for an interview?” I have bad news. I rarely read cover letters – in fact I don’t remember the last one that I did read.

I am not claiming that all HR reps, recruiters and hiring managers deal with resumes the same way that I do but I do believe that there are a large percentage that do. So your resume needs to produce an assessment within the first 10 seconds that it is worthy of further review.

The simplest way to accomplish this is to customize a Summary sectionat the beginning of the resume. The Summary section should list 4 or 5 bullet items that convey your value proposition for the position that you are applying for and basically state your case for why you should be called in for an interview. In writing your Summary section (and the rest of your resume) be sure to use words and phrases as they are used in the job description. Your description for each job that you have held should support these 4 or 5 bullet items. Remember, that while employers may care about other skills and experience, you can be sure that they DO care about the experience and skills indicated on the job description.

Give this suggestion a try. I would be surprised if you do not see an increase in the number of interviews you are able to generate.