Let’s be honest: Writing your resume is complicated regardless of how much professional experience you have. It’s one thing to have experience, but it’s an entirely different story to write about it.
It seems like there are so many tips and an endless amount of advice on how to do it, but much of that is subjective. However, there are resume tips that are more scientific than a matter of opinion or industry trends. Some tips are based on psychology.
Apply some basic psychology to your resume, and you’ll be on your way to an interview in no time.
1. Include What Makes You Unique
Your resume must be professional, but you should inject some personality as well. Avoid going overboard, and save it for areas like your summary or objective, additional skills, volunteer experience and qualifications and your cover letter.
The psychology behind it: According to the famous Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion, people are easily persuaded by people they like and identify with. If your resume has personality, hobbies and passions somewhere, you have a greater chance of building this relationship with recruiters before you even speak with them.
2. Focus on Your Work Experience
While it’s strategic to include your extracurriculars, it’s still important to place the emphasis on your previous career experiences. This should make up the bulk of the information on your resume.
The psychology behind it: A study was conducted to find out what recruiters honed in on the most when vetting applicants’ resumes: education, extracurriculars or work experience. The findings were that recruiters were most impressed with work-related experience on resumes, and less so with the rest.
3. Provide Social Proof
If there’s any way to provide social proof within your resume or cover letter, do it. This could be an accomplishment that involved social media, such as building your Twitter following to promote a video you made. Or maybe you were voted employee of the month at your former workplace.
Outside of your resume, you could also ask for social proof directly — in the form of a referral. If you know someone at the company, or know someone who knows someone, ask them to send a note of recommendation directly to the company or hiring manager.
The psychology behind it: Cialdini credited social proof as being one of the most powerful principles of influence. It’s the same reason hotel reviews are such a powerful marketing tool — it provides social proof for prospective guests.
Recruiters are shopping for candidates, much like travelers are shopping for the right accommodation. They both want to make the right choice and trust others’ opinions to help guide them.
4. Drop Names
If you’ve worked for a well-known company or an established expert in the industry of your expertise, include that within your resume. It’s helpful when recruiters are familiar with your previous employers or work experiences, and it also has the potential to make a great first impression.
Don’t think you’re qualified to work with big brands? Become a brand ambassador. It’s a great learning opportunity and a way to spruce up your resume.
The psychology behind it: Authority is another one of Cialdini’s principles. Essentially, it states that people tend to obey authority figures. Well-known or influential names in your industry establish that sense of authority.
Because individuals are more influenced by authoritative figures, this provides another layer of certainty that you’re the right candidate. It’s very similar to the concept of social proof.
Whenever possible, quantify your experiences and accomplishments. Rather than saying you won an award for best salesman of the year, write that you won best salesman of the year for closing 25% of the company’s sales or that you contributed $500,000 worth of sales for that year.
The psychology behind it: Greek philosopher Aristotle had his own theories around persuasion and influence. One of his ideas was logos, the persuasion of others through logic, evidence and facts. Providing measurable accomplishments appeals to the logical side of the brain and makes your arguments more effective.
Aristotle wasn’t the only one with this idea. Since his time, research has proven that people find it easier to make judgments based on numbers than abstract ideas or facts.
Using psychology will give your resume the necessary boost to land the job!
Scientifically based psychological resume tips can be the key to edging out your competition and landing the job. Including what makes you unique, focusing on your work experience, providing social proof, dropping names and quantifying your accomplishments will all help you get to that next step in the application process.