Does Your Resume Pass the Five-Minute Test?

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Recently we received some feedback from a Human Resources person who was selecting resumes for a Senior Executive Service (SES) position. Her job was to make the second cut and find the 25 best applicants out of 125. The amount of time she spent on each 15+ page SES application package was no more than five minutes.

The HR person said that the 25 applications she picked were easily identified by their “outstanding accomplishments,” “easy-to-read documentation,” and “obvious matches between past experience and this position.”

Can your resume pass the five-minute test? Can the reader very quickly see how you are one of the best candidates for the position? Do you demonstrate your qualification for the job in the first glance?

Here are some top tips to help your resume make the cut:

Knock Down the Big Blocks

The big block resume—with a single long paragraph for each work experience section—originated with Resumix, which was a computer-read resume system. But Resumix is GONE, and the big blocks should be too, because they are unfriendly to humans. Read this article to see why big blocks are an ineffective format.

Avoid Death by Bullets

Bullets are admittedly better than big blocks, but the reader still has to try to find the skills in your resume, and this is to be avoided at all cost. Read this article to find out why the Outline Format is an even better format to use.

Don’t Revisit Ancient History

Not sure which jobs to include in your resume? Follow this rule of thumb: “recent and relevant.” Recent means within the last 10 years. Relevant means that there is some connection to the skills and competencies required by the vacancy announcement. Any jobs that are too old or irrelevant will only slow the reviewer down.

Do: Show Off

I personally love to read the accomplishments in a resume. Most resumes just have a boring list of duties, which is necessary, but tell me how much money you saved, or how you overcame difficult communications with a particularly demanding supervisor, and I will keep reading with interest. I will also determine that you are more qualified than the next person who didn’t list any accomplishments in his or her resume. So, brag away.

Do Match the Keywords Every Time

This tip is perhaps the hardest to convince the federal jobseeker to do, because it is time consuming. However, it is absolutely critical to the success of your job search. Find five to seven keywords in the vacancy announcement, and USE THESE in your resume as headers in the outline format and use the paragraphs to support the headers (see a sample outline format resume).

Still Not Sure How to Improve Your Resume?

Take the next five minutes and contact us for a free estimate. We would be happy to look at your resume and give you a quote for our world-class services.

You can also view some outstanding resume samples in the Federal Resume Guidebook to help you get started on improving your resume today.

A Surprising New Job Announcement Trend

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Have you seen this new feature on federal job postings?

This announcement has an application limit of 100 applications and will close to the receipt of applications once this limit has been reached.

Hurry up and apply, because the job will close as soon as 100 other people submit their resumes! At the Resume Place, we found dozens of job listings touting resume limits instead of traditional closing dates. Amazingly, the most popular limit seems to be only 50 resumes.

This is a brand new challenge. Human resource officials are tired of slogging through hundreds or even thousands of applications for each job opening. We found the feature on jobs as varied as Student Internship and senior manager.

The resume limit has been adopted by numerous agencies and was included on announcements from the Veteran’s Administration, Smithsonian, National Galleries of Art, Department of Transportation, NIST, Treasury, Department of Defense, and Social Security Administration … to name only a few!

It’s amazing, but some announcements are limited to only 15-30 applications.

Here’s a summary of what we found on USAJOBS:

  • Limit of 15 applications (1 announcement)
  • Limit of 25 applications (1 announcement)
  • Limit of 30 applications (1 announcement)
  • Limit of 50 applications (17 announcements)
  • Limit of 75 applications (7 announcements)
  • Limit of 100 applications (7 announcements)
  • Limit of 200 applications (9 announcements)
  • Limit of 300 applications (1 announcement)

For applicants, this is going to make applying for a federal job even more difficult. But you can be prepared!

  • Do you have your keyword-targeted federal resume ready-to-go?
  • Is it uploaded onto USAJOBSalready?
  • Do you have your documents uploaded on USAJOBS? SF-50? Transcripts?
  • Do you have a list of your Top Ten career accomplishments? This can help you answer questionnaires in a hurry

If you are getting ready to apply to a job, but there aren’t any current openings online, you can still prepare a targeted resume by reviewing OPM’s Position Classification Standards. That’s the document human resources professionals use to write announcements.

Be aware that if you are currently looking at announcements on USAJOBS in order according to Closing Dates, the announcements with resume limits don’t pop up first. They say, 50 resume limit OR a closing date of June 16 at Midnight. So the only way to know for sure is to click on each announcement separately.

If you have an email alert set up to email you when certain series become available, make sure you check it out right away! Let us know if you need help preparing your resume. Remember that time is of the essence, now more than ever before.

If you need help getting your resume ready to apply, feel free to contact us for an absolutely free estimate to discuss our services.