Twenty seconds. That's how long, on average, your résumé is reviewed.
This is why it is often the form, and not the substance, of your résumé that gets the most attention. So, you'll have to make yours errorproof, clean, and well designed just to get past the first five seconds.
Next, be sure your résumé highlights experience relevant to the job. This means making your résumé fit exactly the company and the position. I understand that it takes a bit of extra work to make a custom résumé for each job opening. Obviously, if you are going to broadcast your résumé out to hundreds of employers HOPING to get noticed, this will not be possible. But this generic résumé blasting hardly ever works.
I did an experiment over at WhatWouldDadSay.com, where I asked readers to create a SIX-WORD résumé for themselves. Given the widespread fascination with Twitter and its 140-character limitation, I thought it would showcase good writing discipline. Not that you have to make your own six-word résumé, but notice how effective some of the (personal or otherwise) entries were:
This may seem to be a worthless exercise—and it is certainly silly—but it's not worthless if it only makes you realize that a lot can be said in a few well-chosen words.
What are your well-chosen words about you that you would put on your résumé?
G.L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, and his blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com or at JobDig.com.