There is so much advice about resumes available out there! Everyone has an opinion, and I certainly have mine. You have to decide what seems right to you as you’re the one that knows your background best, and the only one that’s ultimately responsible for what you present to potential employers.
However, there’s no question that things have changed in the last few years and what may once have been considered a great resume may not be effective today. Furthermore, a ‘beautiful’ resume and an ‘effective’ resume are not the same thing. It can be both, but effective matters more than beauty every time.
So what are key points for an effective resume in today’s job market?
Here are a number of things to consider:
* Most companies find you primarily through a keyword search. It’s rare these days for someone to actually read through a stack of resumes on their desk. They either search online, or their database, or their emails for keywords on resumes that have been submitted. If your resume doesn’t contain those keywords, it may never be seen at all.
Make sure your resume has the keywords they will be searching! Use wording from their job description. Dig and find out their lingo and use it, not your own that may mean the same but uses different wording.
* Your resume will get an initial scan of only 15 to 30 seconds. If they are reviewing several resumes (and in today’s market, they always are), they only scan it quickly to see if you may be a fit or not. If they see an obvious fit, they may read more. If your fit for the role isn’t obvious right off the bat, they will move on.
In a quick scan, ‘sound bites’ get read, paragraphs do not. Creating an image of yourself in short phrases as their eyes run down the page is key to surviving the scan. Writing in short, substantive, phrases is better than detailed sentences every time. Furthermore, your resume can be as long as you like, as long as it’s two pages or less! Anything beyond two pages will not get read.
* They want to know what you can do for them, not what you want. An ‘Objective’ statement at the top of your resume is all about what you want in your next job. They don’t particularly care! What they do care about is whether you will be able to accomplish the responsibilities the position requires and if you will do them well.
Instead, you might headline your resume with a broad title of what you do, like ‘Project Manager’, and give brief bullets of highlights of your experience and accomplishments.
Also, under each description of your previous positions should emphasize those things most applicable to the position you are applying to.
* If they can not see where and when you gained the experience you claim to have, they will move on. A purely ‘Functional’ resume without showing your employment history and connecting where you gained your experience makes it appear as if you’re making stuff up.
In order to get a call after you apply to a position, you must be able to show them that you have relevant, recent experience that relates directly to the position you are applying for.
* Don’t write in a first person, or a third person voice. A resume is not a personal letter, so writing “I was responsible for…” is an inappropriate form for the document. Similarly, writing “John was responsible for…” sounds as if someone else is writing about you, when you are the one responsible for what you present. Simply write in direct statements: “Responsible for…”
A professional representation of your background without being too personal or too detached is best.
* Include contact information, and make it easy to find! Amazingly, people occasionally send a resume with no contact information, or perhaps only partial contact information (an email address but no phone number). Or they may list their contact information at the bottom of the page where it’s not necessarily easy to find when viewing their resume on a computer screen. Although, it may seem obvious, if they can’t find how to reach you easily, they will move on.
Provide multiple ways you can be reached: home phone, office phone, mobile phone, email address, street address, and possibly a website (although be sure the site is only professional).
In order to achieve all of this for each job you apply to…
You must tailor your resume for each job!
“Isn’t that a lot more work?”
“Is that really necessary?”
Not if you don’t care about getting noticed for the position.
“I can’t tailor hundreds of resumes for all the jobs I apply to online!”
Right! It’s far more effective to apply to 15 well qualified and targeted openings than 100 to see what may stick.
There is no perfect resume. However, if you apply these principles you will have more success in getting the attention of recruiters and hiring managers you want to target in your job search!
Thank you for visiting The Wise Job Search. I truly appreciate your interest. If you like the material here and would like to help keep it viable, please peruse and visit book recommendations, and other resources posted throughout the site. Best wishes on your continued search, and feedback is always welcome!