Just how important is the top quarter of your resume? Well, It’s probably the most important part of your resume. This is the part of your resume that recruiters will see first, the part that is visible before they have to scroll down. If you don’t have their attention within the first few lines, you probably never will.

Whether you are submitting your resume via an email attachment or Workopolis, when your resume is opened, the recruiter’s eyes will first be met with the top quarter. This is the section that you have to work on the most. This is the section where you need to sell yourself and create excitement in readers.

the only part of your resume that matters

Your resume is not your autobiography

Put yourself in the place of the recruiter. They are inundated with job applications every day and have a laborious and tedious task of sorting through mountains of resumes to find the few good applicants worthy of their consideration.

Recruiters will firstly skim through resumes and eliminate candidates that are not qualified for the position on offer, so will mostly only look over a resume for 10 to 15 seconds before they decide whether to read on or not. To get yourself noticed you need to make sure that the recruiter can easily pick out your key information within the top quarter of the first page they look at.

The last thing you want to do in this section is to launch into your life story. No recruiter has time for that. Instead, focus on listing key selling points for the job in hand. If an industry specific qualification is important for this role, don’t bury it at the end of page two.

Use the space wisely

You don’t have much room to play with, so make it count. Use this area to create a career summary statement that is short and to the point. You can then go on to use the remaining space on your resume to back up a career summary statement with more detailed information about your roles.

The top quarter of your resume is your attention grabber – similar to a newspaper’s eye-catching headlines. They place these here because this is what is visible to the reader and can make them want to pick up and buy the paper. Similarly, this is where your crucial first impression is made or lost. Make a headline statement that makes a recruiter want to pick you and read more.

Squeeze, but don’t cram

Because space is limited here, keep your margins to a minimum and include only brief contact details. This will give you more elbow room to include all your key information without needing to shoehorn it into a small section.

Obviously, you will want to make a statement here, but try not to cram too much information into the space. Instead, boil down your key skills that match the job criteria into short sentences and bullet points. Think of this section as your sales pitch or shop window where you are displaying your wares. You want the recruiter to see the skills that make you attractive without being drowned out by too much text.

Market yourself and your skills

Think of yourself as an entrepreneur trying to win a new contract. Your resume should be used as a marketing document to show how your skills as an employee can benefit their company. Switch your mindset from ‘I am prepared to do this job for money’ to a more positive approach: ‘Look at how you can benefit from my outstanding skills.’ Writing in this more pro-active manner can really set a dynamic tone for your whole resume.

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The key to making the top quarter of your resume work hard for you is to present short, concise snippets of information, metrics, facts, and figures. This will help to get you noticed on that first crucial skim of your resume. Deliver the skills the recruiters are looking for and you will be much more likely to make it through to the interview stage.



Andrew Fennell is an experienced recruiter across multiple industries, founder of London CV writing service StandOut CV and author of How to write a CV – The ultimate guide