What’s a resume for, anyway?
A resume, contrary to popular belief is NOT a complete listing of everything you’ve ever done in your life. It’s great that you were a TA in college but if you’re applying to a senior level job, it’s no longer relevant.
Here are some tips to writing a resume that gets results.
- KISS: Keep it simple, stupid! Seems harsh but it’s true. The fun bits you have filling up valuable space in your resume need to be cut. That is information you save for the interview.
- Tailor your resume: There’s nothing wrong with changing your resume up when you send it out to different companies. Think about applying for a job like dating. If you meet someone you like that loves dogs, you would talk about dogs. Anything you know about dogs. You don’t make things up, you just choose to highlight things on your resume that they are looking for.
- Be specific: Would you hire someone that “Managed a team.” or someone that “Managed a team of 6 software developers in implementing company-wide software update.” It’s pretty obvious.
- Contract vs. Full Time: If you worked a job as a contract, make sure your resume reflects this. Otherwise, the short term jobs may look bad.
- Leave something to the imagination: A resume is for getting an interview, not getting a job. The interview is how you get the job. Make them want to learn more from you when the resume lands on their desk. If every single detail of your life is on your resume, the hiring manger will be bored.
- Forget the list: That list you have with phone skills, ability to fax, etc is not needed. Put hard and soft skills in your job descriptions where it’s backed up by facts. Would you choose the person that has Final Cut Pro in their skills or a job description that says “Edited 3 feature films and 5 short films using Final Cut Pro”?
- Use keywords: If you want companies and recruiters to find you (on LinkedIn, Monster, Career Builder) make sure your resume has all the skills you want them to find. If you don’t want a job babysitting, maybe it’s time to take that skill off your resume.
- Use titles appropriately: If you are running your own consulting firm, are you really the CEO? Be careful with titles, overinflating them can be more harmful than beneficial. Also, make sure to use specific titles. Don’t say “Writer” say “Software Technical Writer”.
- Be concise: Bullet points are your best friend. Use them.
- Don’t include the obvious: Oh, you’re “Available for Interview”, “Seeking a Job”, or “References available upon request”? Don’t state the obvious, you wouldn’t have send a resume if all of the above weren’t true.
- Be positive: This is for interviews and resumes – always be positive about past employers. Don’t say you’re looking for a job because you hate your boss. It’s not going to get you an interview.
- Use your numbers: If you increased profitability by 15%, use numbers. Don’t just say you increased profitability.
- Don’t give away your age: The year you graduated from high school or college can give away your age and ruin your chances at an interview, even though this practice is illegal. Remove those dates.
- When in doubt, take it off: You’re applying for an executive position. Time to take that gig at the mall off your resume. This goes for jobs you aren’t proud of or had a bad experience. Remember some employers ask you if you’ve been fired or why you were only at a job for 2 months. If you have a short position on there, the question may come up. If you were fired, removing the job can alleviate the problem.
- Tell your reference: Make sure your references know they’re on your resume. Nothing says unprofessional when your reference checks fall flat.
- Stay on topic: I’ve seen information like marital status on resumes. You’re applying for a job, not a marriage license.
- Be honest: Don’t put outright lies on your resume. You can tailor your resume for the job but don’t lie. If you get caught, it is grounds for termination.
- Under 2 pages: Try to keep your resume short but still informative. 1-2 pages is appropriate.
- Activities is irrelevant: Hobbies, affiliations, past organizations…unless they directly are related to the job, take them off.
- List positions: If you got promotions, make sure your resume reflects that. Everyone loves to see a candidate that advanced in his last company.
- But I: No buts about it, pronouns are a no go. They know it was you, just stick to “developed” over “I developed”.
- Put your contact info: Seems obvious but many people forget the obvious. Name, address, phone number and email are required.
Your resume is often your first and only chance at getting an interview. If it’s not stunning, you’ll miss out on that shot to meet the hiring manager in person and convince them you’re right for the job.