Resume Writing 101: Find Your Hook

Drafting a resume should be nothing new for you, but have you ever reviewed a resume on behalf of your company? I have.

I started my job at an investment bank and was part of the team who screened resumes for first-round interviews of the analysts’ program (yes, this was done by junior bankers and not HR professionals). This was typically done after a long day, and the stack was thick, like 3-4 inches, so I must have been reviewing hundreds of resumes in one go.

A Process of Elimination

The most efficient way to process the pile was by elimination. I looked at the GPA. Anything below 3.0 was out. More than 2-3 typos? out. Ugly formatting? Out.

Then, I skimmed through the text. This was a more subjective process because we weren’t asked to look for special traits or experience. We were told to pick the ones we “liked”. I picked my favorites based on:

  • Those with higher grades and relevant internships
  • Those who have profile similar to mine
  • Those I know personally either directly or indirectly
  • Those who have done something so cool that I have to meet him or her in person

It is pretty hard to work on the grades and the internship once you graduate. It is also hard to fit your resume to match the profile of your reviewer because you never know who that person is (but this is something you can and should do at the next step, the interviews).

But you can definitely try to make some contact with existing employees, and include something so cool that everyone wants to invite you for the interview.

Find Your Hook

I have seen quite a few “Miss Texas” and part-time models on the resumes. If you are really this attractive, you can consider putting this on your resume although you run the risk of being taken as a dumb blonde (the guys may want to check you out without the intention of hiring you).

But if you have done something extraordinary, like you are an amateur astrologist or have once set up a non-profit organization in Africa… this is a “hook” that almost always works to get people’s attention.

At The End Of The Day…

We had 4-5 analysts reviewing the same stack of resumes and our picks were often strikingly similar. That’s why most people either get no follow-up or lots of follow-ups from their resumes.

Now, check out my page on how to identify your hook and other tips to greatly improve your chance of pasting this first hurdle of job hunting.

About the Author Stephanie