Skim Value and Your Resume: 5 Ways to Make Your Resume More Skimmable

Nov 8, 2021 | Resumes

Make your resume skimmable

Hiring professionals don’t fully read many resumes. Instead, they quickly skim applications. Here’s how to optimize a resume for skim value.

By: Tonyia Cone | Contributor for Let’s Eat, Grandma

Recruiters and hiring managers don’t have enough time to read every resume they receive for each position they need to fill. In order to manage their workload, they start by quickly screening resumes, looking for a good fit before taking a deeper dive into those that make their short list.

So not only is it necessary for your resume to be clear and concise, it is important to make sure that your top skills and qualifications jump out at readers at first glance. The easier on the reader you make this step in the process, the better your resume’s chance at moving on to the potential hire pile.

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1. Start With the Target Job Title or a Resume Headline

The best way to position yourself as a match for your target job from the beginning is by including that job title at the top of your resume, after the contact information in your header section.

For example, if you’re applying for a job as an Ice Cream Operations Manager, and it’s listed on LinkedIn as Manager, Ice Cream Operations, this part of your resume would look like this:
heading screenshot showing keywords for skim value

A similarly great way to create interest in your job application from the get-go is to lead your resume with a headline. A resume headline is a short description of who you are as a professional that leads readers to want to know more about you.

This phrase should be interesting, impressive, important, and less than 10 words. It can be between your resume header section and your summary.

heading with awardwinning

2. Grab the Reader’s Attention With a Summary

Speaking of your summary section, this bulleted introduction should create a strong first impression with hiring professionals. Near the top of your resume, your summary is a brief description of your qualifications that quickly and immediately highlights your strengths, skills, and the ways these align with each company’s needs.

Your summary section is successful when it leaves readers interested and wanting to continue reading your resume to learn more about you. It sets the tone for your resume, telling the readers what impressive things they should take note of as they go on to your professional experience.

3. Keep Your Bullet Points Under Control

It’s really important to limit the number of bullet points under each role on your resume so that your accomplishments aren’t buried in a sea of too many bullets. Include just your most impressive and relevant information about your achievements.

Another way to increase the visibility of your biggest achievements is to list your most relevant accomplishments in the first bullet points under each position you’ve held. Think of it as putting a little less importance on each bullet point as you move through the job.

Likewise, make sure your most important positions include more bullet points and more detail than the less-important jobs you’ve held. You definitely want to spend more of the valuable real estate that is the space on your resume on the positions and details that are more impressive or relevant to the job you want.

Not only do you need to limit the number of bullet points you include on your resume, make each bullet short so they are easily readable. This means limiting them to one line when possible, and not letting them go longer than two lines, max.

4. Be Consistent with Design Choices

man squinting at a nonskimmable resume on computer. Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Don’t get carried away with your resume design, or else it could backfire and make your resume hard to skim. Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

While italics, bold, and underlining can add visual emphasis and break your resume up into sections. However, a busy or confusing resume will be hard to read – at best. At worst, it won’t make sense and will raise questions a hiring professional doesn’t have the time or patience to answer at this stage in the game.

So do yourself a favor and be consistent with your design choices. For example, if you bold or all-caps one job title, format all the job titles on your resume that way.

5. Give Me Space, Man

Another visual way to make your resume skimmable is by using plenty of white space to create sections and avoid large chunks of text.

Not only does a clean-looking resume appear more professional, a reader’s eye will be drawn to information surrounded by white space. You can create white space with margins and line spacing.

Following the two-line bullet point rule mentioned above will also help you to break up text. After that, if you look at your resume and still see a large area of text, look for ways to break it down into smaller sections.

Less is More

Remember, the point of your resume is to get you an interview, not to explain every facet of your career or every possible question that could come up. And you can always elaborate on achievements or provide more background in your cover letter!

Keep your resume clean and simple, include the information you want a reader to learn if they only have a few minutes to skim it, and you’ll be sure to get invited for more interviews.

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