Ah, the resume -- the bane of every job seeker’s existence. Yes, a resume shouldn’t be the only tool in your job search tool belt, but not having an effective resume could keep you from getting a great job. Recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds on a resume. Let that sink in for a moment … 6 seconds! So how do you make sure yours stands out? Here are a few things to consider:
The Design: People have lower attention spans now (thanks, internet!), so keep your resume short and make the layout easy to read. If you have around 10 years of experience, you should have a 1-page resume. You also don't have to rely just on that Microsoft Word template. Check out some of these bad boys! Being in the digital world, a LinkedIn profile or a personal website provides a lot of supplemental information, so your resume should just be a highlight reel of your accomplishments.
Tell your story: When it comes to the content, start by taking a big picture view. It’s important to do your homework - knowing what type of job you want and why, networking, doing informational interviews, all of which will allow you to refine your message. This is especially important if you’re transitioning to a completely different industry because your resume and past experience say one thing but you’re going in a completely different direction, so that needs to come across effectively.
The summary statement: This should be just 1-2 lines that highlight your strengths and what type of job you want. Keep it simple! The tendency is to sound fancy, use a bunch of jargon, or cram in all your qualifications, but think from the perspective of a recruiter who has a few seconds to look at your resume. They need to know in plain English what you’re looking for an why you’re special.
Words Matter: Online applications will filter out resumes that don’t have the right keywords, so look at the job description and include some of that language in your resume. You also want to use a lot of action verbs like reduced claims by 50% or managed a team of 20 employees, etc. Also, try not to get too jargony. Especially if you’re transitioning into a different career path, people are not going to understand jargon associated with your previous career. And heavily edit each section - every task you ever performed at a job doesn’t need to be listed -- just the highlights.
The STAR method: The best way to highlight your accomplishments is to talk about the Situation, Task, Action, Result. Numbers are also incredibly important. Instead of saying just “Created a training program to increase efficiency”, if I said “Decreased employee turnover by 40% over a 6-month period by creating a 1-week training program”, that sounds far more effective.
Think like a recruiter: We often think that every minute detail of what we did will be important, but a recruiter or hiring manager is thinking about you in the context of the job, so put yourself in their shoes. They want to see how your experience is relevant to this particular position, and they want to get a sense of what type of person you’d be, so try to humanize yourself, show how you’re well rounded. If you’ve had volunteer experience, include it. And don’t be afraid to add some personality, especially in the summary statement.
Now there are a few common practices from back in the day that aren’t valid anymore. Time to debunk some myths!
No address needed: You do not need to put your address on your resume. In fact, that’s kinda dangerous, so remove it ASAP. Your contact info can just be your email, phone, LinkedIn profile.
Gaps on resumes: Having a gap on your resume is not a death sentence -- hiring managers know how common layoffs have become. Also, you don’t need to put the month on your resume anymore - just the year should be fine. You can also fill in the gaps with volunteer experience, freelance gigs, or projects you’ve done during the lull periods to add value.
The resume is NOT the first step: As we go through the job search process, our resume is often the first thing we start to work on, when in fact, this should come at the later stages. It’s important to first know what sort of job, industry, or company you want to work for, have a few job titles in mind, do the requisite amount of networking and conducting informational interviews. Only then can you begin to craft an effective resume that conveys exactly what you want.
Remember, while a resume is important, it is merely a tool, so don’t think of it as the be all, end all.
If you’re still looking for help with crafting that killer resume, we can make one for you!