Formula for great resumes: how to impress in first 2 seconds

There is no mystery to writing a great resume, yet most people are not aware of this. Here is a perfectly executable, easy-to-follow formula for you to capture the hiring manager/recruiter’s attention in the first 2 seconds.

1) Know The top 3 reasons you should get the job:

When I ask my clients, do you know what will make the employer choose a candidate over the others? They often tell me, good skills, relevant experiences, relevant qualifications.

So I ask, say, if it’s a project management job, it’s pretty easy to find people who have done project management, and claim they have good skills, plus some degree or PMP certificate. If there are 5 candidates, how will the employer choose?

Hiring is to find someone unique for a unique role in a unique company. It’s all about people. This sounds like a cliché but it is indeed all about people. You are NOT equivalent to your skills + experience + qualification. You have to bring that unique ingredient of you onto the table, into the resume, because it is what the employer is looking for. And you need to understand that unique ingredient of you, when you are wondering what career is right for you.

Therefore the top 3 reasons you should get the job should include:

Hardware (Technical Skills/Experience/Qualification) + Software (Communication/leadership) + Uniquely, Who you are.

The last part is the hardest part, because everyone is different. And every job is different. And you need to tailor for those jobs.

Also see my article on How to take stock of your career capital. It is also accompanied with a worksheet, offering step-by-step guide for you to see your unique strengths.

If you happened to have jobhopped a little, look here for Jobhopper’s guide to an awesome resume.

And if you are a fresh graduate and find your skills are limited, this article is still relevant for you. Besides, check out how to stand out as a fresh graduate.

2) Write it for your readers, not yourself

What your readers see in your resume, is more important than what you want to tell. I repeat: What your readers see in your resume, is more important than what you want to tell.

For a lot of people, resume is a laundry list of facts. If they had 10 skills, they will pile it up. If they had 10 good things, they will list it there.

These are what they want to tell. But if you ask them, is this what you want your readers to see? They go into silence. The answer is obvious and they know it – nobody reads a laundry list.

Actually, to form an impression on a resume, I usually only need 2 seconds. This is a habit from my headhunter days. There are so many resumes to go through, recruiters will save their time and resource only for interesting resumes. We have to make it time efficient for them.

The reasons why you should get the job, should immediately pop into their eyes. No delay, no analysis needed. It should appeal to their intuition first, not yet the logical brain.

It’s especially important to create an impression that your profile is highly relevant if you are change your career path or have been retrenched / taking a long break for a while.

3) Anything does not serve your purpose hurts it

Is it easier to deliver a core message in 3 lines or 10 lines? In a resume, it’s best if you can deliver in 1 line. Any more information overwhelms the intuition of the recruiter and makes the real message harder to stand out.

What I will suggest is focusing on the most important part of resume:

The most important part of a resume is “Work Experiences”. Recruiters dive right into it. Keep the highlight of your career, list of skills, and other stuff as simple as possible.

The most important part of the “Work Experiences” are the first 3 lines in each job, under the job title, company name. They should each tell a story.

The Formula to tell a story is as follows:

I “led/constructed/participated___”



(The MORALE of story should serve your key message, especially the UNIQUELY WHO YOU ARE)

Watch my video here for more details:

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portrait_Yolanda Yu_YL_r

Yolanda Yu

  • 𝗣𝗖𝗖 ICF Certified Executive Coach
  • 𝗣𝗲𝗮𝗸𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲ᵀᴹ Career Coach
  • Ex-Visa Ex-Alibaba business leader
  • 🐧Penguin Author
  • Ex-Headhunter