Here at FatWallet, we are about more than just deals and coupons. Oh, we have a lot of deals and coupons. What we are about is being a community of savvy shoppers. Our forums allow our members to have as much money in their wallet as possible. We want you to have a fat wallet. Thinking long and hard, it occurs to us that you can only get cash back if you start with cash. Not far removed from our own job searches, we decided to use our expertise as job seekers, and hiring managers to help you put together a great resume. The kind of resume that lands you the job you’ve always wanted.
Got My Mind On My Resume, And My Resume On My Mind
If you are reading this, we assume it is because you already want to put together the best resume possible. You have likely already looked at resume tips from our friends Susan Ireland and Peter Vogt. You may have already sent out resumes, but haven’t gotten a call back yet. Whether you are just gearing up, or if you feel beaten down like Marshall in How I Met Your Mother, we know how you feel. Putting your accomplishments, experience, and education down on paper is unpleasant. We think the process should start with examining how people think about resumes.
It is fascinating how complex the human brain is, and how little we know about it. Even a simple question such as “does the brain prefer familiarity or novelty?” can have many answers. Brains can react one way one time for a person, and another way another time for that same person. Our friends at Lifehacker point out that the brain does “like” novelty. Novelty gets the brain’s attention. Novel stimulus activates the substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area (SN/VTA). Yet this isn’t really what the brain likes. This signals to the brain that there might be a reward out there. This is your sense of adventure. This is what prompts you to want to explore an area. Put another way, novelty motivates us. It is not, itself, a reward. Novelty signals us that there might be a reward to be had. Activation of the hippocampus and the amygdala accompanies SN/VTA stimulation. The hippocampus processes and stores memories, and helps with spatial navigation. The amygdala helps form emotional memories. This all makes sense with novelty and learning: seek rewards, and experience new things. Science has tied amygdala stimulation to aggression, fear, and anxiety. The purpose of the amygdala is to help us process emotional stimulus, and to respond to situations in which such a response is necessary. Resumes are not something people are used to doing. It triggers “novelty” in the brain. You are thinking about the future, and about landing your dream job. By and large, there is no reward in putting together your resume. The hippocampus fires up about making a memory. The amygdala primes to signal for any danger. When it finds neither, all you get is a vague sense of self doubt.
A lot of people just focus on grabbing a template from the internet, then plugging in their information. All they want is for it to be over. After all, you are a bright and charming individual who will dazzle them in the interview. You will become a welcome edition to any team. Without a resume that gets you that interview, your efforts are in vain. So step one is to unshackle yourself from any ideas that resumes are just a formality. They need a lot of thought and effort.
Why Your Resume Should Be The Greatest Thing You Ever Do
Susan Adams writes on Forbes that the average recruiter, in a study by TheLadders, spends just 6.25 seconds reviewing your resume. Your resume is novel to them. You now know that the recruiter’s SN/VT will activate. Their hippocampus and amygdala are waiting for a reward, or danger. This is where your bread and butter resume tips come in handy. Don’t let them find a spelling error, formatting issue, or other clerical mistake. The person looking at your resume will spend chunks of those precious seconds on your error. They will not spend them on your resume’s important content. Maybe your skills are exactly what they are working for, and your reference is the reviewer’s wife. But they didn’t see that. Your time’s up, and they have 30 more resumes to get through.
What Is A Resume?
People who read your resume already have a concept of what a “resume” is. So do you. Our goal in this first edition of the FatWallet Resume Builder is to get you familiar with resumes. We don’t want you to just throw together an inferior copy of someone else’s resume. So, what is a resume? Your dictionary definition is it is a presentation of one’s background and skills. When someone says the word resume to you, though, is that what you think? Do the words “a presentation of one’s background and skills” float into your mind’s eye? Of course not. Your brain builds for you a mental concept of what a resume is. Maybe a part of that it must be printed on paper. I am willing to bet a core part of the concept of a resume is that the name goes at the top. It is important to understand, in a Plato’s Theory Of Forms kind of way, what someone expects a resume to be. Then you can make sure your resume matches that concept.
Everyone is familiar with the concept of the mind as a library. Information stored like books. When you need to access information, you just go to that section of the library, and as they say, “whomp, there it is.” That is useful for recalling facts, like the dictionary definition of resume. The Season 3 finale of BBC’s Sherlock features this way of contextualizing the mind. This is the basis for an old memory technique called the Memory Palace. Josh Foer gives a fascinating Ted Talk on this technique.
That might be how people remember. It isn’t how people think. I want you to imagine that the mind works like a factory. Your brain receives stimulus and places an order at the factory in your brain. That factory builds the concept for you. Emotional attachments, prejudices, memories, all go into the concept. The factory ships it off to wherever ordered it. I had this view of the mind introduced to me by Todd Tremlin, now a Professor at Central Michigan University. One example of this concept based model of the mind was this: table. You have received visual stimulus. Your eyes are sending signals about the word table. With just the word, I have put the concept of table into your mind. What is a table? Four legs, smooth top, made of wood, you eat off it? Playing cards, folding metal legs? Not everyones concept is exactly the same. The neat part is that there are parts built into your concept of a table about which you are wholly unaware. You have never had use for them, they have never come up. Can the table fly? You know it can’t, because it is a table, and not being able to fly is part of what it means to be a table.
Do you have a friend or co-worker that people always think is mad? Maybe you suffer from it. People always asking, “Is something wrong, are you mad at me? You look mad.” You or they are always thinking no, this is just my face. The phenomenon started as a joke, and has a couple of names, we are going to refer to it as Bitchy Resting Face (BRF). There is something about certain facial features, posture, whatever, that causes your brain to associate that stimuli with an unpleasant, abrupt, abrasive, rude person. People have a concept of what a bitch is. That concept seems to include certain physical attributes. In much the same way as a table, or BRF, when someone is expecting a resume, sees the word resume, or hears the word resume, their brain builds a concept for them of what a resume is. Capitalize on that. Make sure you understand what the concept is that people who make hiring decisions of a resume have. Provide that resume. The brain “likes” things that seem familiar. Chetan Parikh discusses this in the context of people wanting to do business. People prefer to do business with people they are familiar with. In the 1960’s, a University of Michigan psychologist conducted an experiment showing that people like things they have seen before. They like comfort and familiarity. If you read the whole article, one line should stand out to you. “Exposure creates inroads to tamp down the amygdala.” We want to build a resume that quiets the amygdala. One that removes fear, aggression, and anxiety from the equation. One that makes the most of your 6.25 seconds.
Resume Tip: Give The People What They Want
This is a heat map of an example resume from the TheLadders study we mentioned earlier. The resume on the left is a resume made by job seeker. On the right is one using TheLadders’ professional resume writing service. They asked recruiters to rate the “usability” of resumes. Recruiters ranked the resume re-written by a professional more usable. The rewritten one presents the information in a way that the recruiters found more palatable. It fits better with their concept of a resume.
The heat maps show the information recruiters focused on: Name, current title, current company, previous title, previous company, previous position start and end dates, current position start and end dates, and education. You can almost see the wheels of the brain turning. They are trying to give you, through your resume, context. Your name is a nice label to attach all these associations to. Their brain is building an entire, new concept, and that concept is of you. Make sure that when their brain has a concept of you, that the emotions associated aren’t negative. You can do this by having a logical flow and informational hierarchy to your resume. Make those pieces of information we know reviewers are looking for easy to locate and digest. The recruiter doesn’t seem to have even looked at the left resume’s bottom fourth. On the right, they were able to view the whole resume. They rated these better, you recall, so it was a pleasant experience. This is all going into their concept of you. The first thing they have asked of you is “provide a resume.” The one on the right indicates that the person performed the assigned satisfactorily. The one on the left, not so much.
That is just one example of the many ways a perceived slight becomes part of potential employers’ concept of “you.” You do not want “makes mistakes” as a part of that concept. You do not want the boss to feel like you don’t perform tasks in the way they want you to.
Now that we understand how to think about resumes, we are going to discuss creating that logical hierarchy of information, and creating the best concept of “you” we can, in our next installment of FatWallet Resume Builder. We will put all the information we learned here to good use.