Navigate / search

Five Second Series – Part IV

Really?  Only Five Seconds to Catch Someone’s Attention?

You bet!


Anyone who has hired or recruited more than a few times will tell you that they almost instantly know from one quick look, whether a resume is worth reading or not.

This is Part IV in a series about the ways you can catch the reader’s attention in less than 5 seconds. And, how to avoid reasons for rejection or what I call the “red flags” that cause the reader to set your resume aside.

Part I

Part II

Part III


Part 4: KISS – Keep it short, sweetie.

How to keep the reader’s attention.

Writing your resume is not easy at the best of times, and keeping it interesting can be just as challenging. Being brief is one of the best ways to keep the reader’s interest with today’s rampant short attention spans; and keeping it short seems to be a universal problem for most. I know you don’t mean to bore people with long-winded descriptions; you just don’t want to leave anything out! And I think it’s great that you are so keen about your achievements.

However, once you’ve written your resume, read each line of it and ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Is this information helpful in showing the reader who I am and what my talents are?
  2. Is this information relevant to the position I’m applying to?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to both, then you are on your way!

What to leave in and what to leave out – helpful tips:


Leave in common familiar language that the reader will be comfortable with.                             

Dude with empty speech bubble left

Leave out words, acronyms and language that are particular to one company or industry when possible. I see this most often with very large corporations or sectors such as pharma or academia. It can distract the reader and make it hard to understand the document when industry specific jargon is over-used.


Leave in specific tasks from your job description and describe how you fulfilled those tasks in

Dude many hats

your own way. Don’t forget to highlight any mentionable results!

Leave out job description bullets. Don’t cut and paste bullets from job descriptions, we know when you’ve done this and it doesn’t impress anyone.


Dudes village people

Leave in only information that describes your skills set, enhances your skill set with context, and/or answers to the job descriptions to which you are applying.

Leave out details that are redundant. If you taught yoga twenty years ago and aren’t applying for a health and fitness or related position, leave it out. If you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro within the last ten years, and there is room for it, and it doesn’t seem overkill – leave it in. It speaks of your health, tenacity, strength and courage.


Leave in your phone number so they can call you, your email so they can email you if they can’t reach you by phone

Dude telephone

and your name, so they know what to call you when they contact you.

Leave out your personal information. Marital status, birth dates, etc. are not anyone’s business but yours.

He and she dudes in suits

Leave in memberships to relevant associations, Board memberships, relevant continuing education, relevant training classes or seminars. Remember the word ‘relevant’, it’s key.

Leave out personal interests. Now, to be honest, this is controversial among recruiters. Some recruiters like seeing personal interests, some don’t. I don’t see the point of it. It’s not personal, it’s only business.


But most of all – keep it short, sweetie.

yellow clock






Nice article! Very helpful!

Leave a comment


email* (not published)