Why Your Skills Section Matters

Recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds reading your resume. Most people spend more time brushing their teeth! The average person reads 200 words per minute (and reading WITH comprehension is more like 120).

That means, on average, only 20 words on your resume are being read to determine if you make it to the next round.

So can you imagine if those first 20 words are talking about your aspirations in life? I can tell you from experience, that is not what many people are looking for. They are looking to see if you are a good fit for the position and the organization. 

Think about this situation - An organization employs over 50,000 employees in the United States alone. For an average position, a posting may receive 250-500 resumes. Let's say 200 to be conservative. So that's 50,000 x 200 = 10,000,000. The population of New York City is 8.5 million.

That means 50,000 people had to be plucked from the piles of applicants, interviewed and extended an offer, right? So the organization probably has a talent acquisition or recruiting department to help streamline this, set up interviews and review at least some of the 10,000,000 resumes. Well, a team of recruiters cannot possibly know the ins and outs of each job description. Rarely does a cross-functional team even know what all of the other departments do.

So how does that system work?

Great question! Keywords and job descriptions. A recruiter or person in talent acquisition is going to pull resumes that match the job description at hand. And if the 6 seconds they spend on your resume involves your aspirations and none of the keywords, what do you think the chance is of you getting to the "reach out" pile?

How does your skills section play into this?

Well, your skills section can serve as an excellent summary of why you are a good fit for the job. It can also be used as the skeleton of your resume. If you use your skills to develop your achievements and job duties, your resume will seem more cohesive and less cluttered.

We see a lot of resumes that lack some sort of structure or clear vision as to what the candidate is looking for. If you think about the skills section as the anchor, and your experience is the ropes that tie down the boat (your resume). By using the skills to develop your descriptions of duties and accomplishments, you are essentially allowing your whole resume to be an objective statement.

Your skills section is also an opportunity to tie yourself directly to the job description to the position you are applying for. Using the same keywords and requirements from the job description, you can make yourself stand out to the person who has to match the two!