A Bit of Psychology in Resume Writing

At first glance, psychology has nothing to do with resume writing unless you are applying for the position of a psychologist. The truth of the matter is that most of the resume writing principles are based on the findings of this very science. The thing is that resumes, CVs and other application letters are written with the purpose of getting a job (interview) which means they are meant to impress a specific audience. Since popular speakers often retreat to psychology and its principles in order to look convincing in the eyes of the listeners, why should job seekers ignore this opportunity? We may not say anything new in the article about how you should draft your resume to get an interview call but what we will explain why all those writing techniques we are writing about can lead you to success. In fact, when you understand why you should do all those things the chances are pretty high that you will be able to do it even better. Besides, this knowledge can also help you during the interview process.

Knowing How People Perceive Information May Help

ResumePsychology deals a lot with how people think and what impacts their thinking. Considering the fact that job seekers are trying to get to what hiring managers have in their minds, psychology can provide guidance in this perspective. For example, psychologists claim that persuading others with evidence and facts can be the most powerful tool in the hands of a speaker. The point is that people will more likely believe you if you back it all up with real examples, facts or numbers. Even great philosopher of old Aristotle said that logos (logic and evidence) is one of the most effective pillars of persuasion. That is why we constantly advise our clients to quantify their accomplishments. It is one thing to know that you managed a big budget for a great event and it is completely different to know that you administered a $42,000 budget to plan a large-scale event for 7,000 students. The numbers make difference, don't they? At least in the eyes of hiring managers...

It won't be a surprise to say that associating with trusted and reputable companies will build up one's credibility. And this is kind of obvious. Well-known organizations and institutions are all about great reputation and credibility. If you don't have your own authority (and the fact that you are looking for a job tells us you don't have it) then the best way to convey authority is to associate yourself with those who do. Even if you have never worked for such companies directly, you can still mention any connection with them you have had during your career. Maybe you one of your clients was a Fortune 500 company? Or you maybe you worked at a start-up backed up by a popular brand? Any association with big names will likely help you gain a significant advantage over other candidates. Simple because that's how our brain works - when we see the connection to a famous big name we tend to think it must be good. It is also impossible to underestimate the importance of competition in today's job market environment. Employees are always in a race with other staff to prove they are better than the rest in order to get a promotion. The same applies to job hunting - people want to show they are a better match for the company than the bunch of other applicants.

Now keeping this in mind, very few job seekers choose to feature the competition where they were chosen for the award or program. So many people mention won awards, the number of programs they were selected for and many other similar things but at the same time, they fail to show the entire picture. In other words, they don't list how many other people were trying to win the award or be selected for the program... Psychologists believe that social proof is a very powerful principle of influence. By listing the number of competitors you managed to outrun, you highlight how coveted your accomplishments are.


Obviously, we could say more about what and how you should list your accomplishments on a resume. But even if you manage to keep just the three principles mentioned above you will significantly improve your resume writing skills. And what is even more important, by understanding these principles you can make a difference during a job interview. This doesn't seem like a big deal to you probably, but it does matter for people doing the interviews as well as those involved in the decision-making process.

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Michael S.

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