Resumes

A resume will not get you a job.

But it can get you noticed – it can get you wanted – which can lead to an interview which can get you a job.

Resume tips from a top recruiter (Forbes)

A resume is 1-page marketing flyer.

Yes, sometimes it’s two, but only if you have more than ten years of work experience. The information that is important…the information a recruiter really cares about…can usually be shared on a single page.

Attention spans are growing shorter. You don’t have to include your entire work history. Tailor your information to the level of the job you’re applying for. Don’t repeat the same tasks under each work listing. Show growth.

The biggest mistakes I see on resumes and how to correct them (Laszlo Bock, SVP People Relations, Google, and LinkedIn Influencer)

Recruiters know what they’re looking for, and they know the goods when they see the goods on a resume.

Job Postings

A resume is a document about you and your work history. But don’t simply capture where you’ve been…point to where you’re going. The first step in constructing a resume is to look at job postings.

A smart career planner continually scans job postings – for the job he wants now, and for the jobs he wants in the future.

If you look ahead at postings for the kind of job you want in 5 years…10 years…20 years…you can identify which skills and qualifications you lack, and you can formulate a plan to gain those skills and qualifications before you make your next move.

Study 3-5 job postings for the kind of job you want next. Identify the skills and qualifications they collectively mention that you currently have. These are the things you need to highlight and leverage in both your resume and your cover letter. Match the language of the job posting on your resume.

10 useless resume words (and 10 eye-catching ones) (Newsday)

When you apply for a specific job, tweak your general resume so that the language on that specific resume speaks into that job posting. Taking the time to tweak each resume you send has huge pay-offs.

Formatting

Don’t use a template for your resume. People end up fighting with templates and often defeat their goal of a good-looking format. If you like a font or look of a template, use the ideas, but you’ll be better served to start from scratch in Microsoft Word so that you have better control.

I used to advise saving a resume as a PDF file when emailing to recruiters so that your formatting doesn’t change when they open it. But many large companies use scanning programs that don’t pick up content on a PDF. So clarify whether Word or PDF is best when sending your resume to a company.

Use a professional, easy-to-read font size between 10-12.

Only use bold for headers, and only italicize for emphasis.

Format with bold and italics consistently throughout your resume. Inconsistencies in spacing, bolding, italics, dashes, font sizes, etc. will make you look sloppy.

Margins should be between 1” and .5”.

If you do have a second page, indicate it’s a 2-page resume on the first page, and include the header (at least partially – with your name) on the second page.

5 tips to a better resume (blog post)

Frontloading

Frontloading is a technique – a smart strategy. It means putting your strongest information at the top.

In the Forbes article Top Executive Recruiters Agree There Are Three True Job Interview Questions, George Bradt says recruiters want to know: Can you do the job? Will you love the job? And can we tolerate working with you?

So your first objective as a job candidate is to communicate your skills and qualifications. In What Recruiters Look At During The 6 Seconds They Spend On Your Resume, eye tracking proves that recruiters are looking to answer question number one: Can you do the job? They search the Experience section if they can easily find it. If your resume is poorly formatted, they’ll quickly give up trying to find what they’re looking for.

If you have a strong Experience section, it will speak for itself. If you do not have a strong Experience section, consider frontloading with a Professional Profile or Summary of Qualifications section (see below). If you have strong experience you can still include a profile at the top, just don’t sacrifice strong content for it.

Sections of a Resume

Header

Put your name, email address and phone number at the top (mailing addresses are optional, as are social media and website addresses). Format it professionally. It’s okay to make your name a bit larger, so that it stands out. Treat this as your personal letterhead. You can include a mailing address, but some recruiters say it is unnecessary. It can even work against you if you live outside the city where you’re applying.

Objective/Profile

An overview (philosophy of the old functional resume) is at the top. This “professional profile” or “summary of qualifications” can still be called your “objective” if you like, but it should be a summary section with purpose. It should highlight your best assets and give the reader a sense of your skill set and career achievements.

This can be a bulleted list, a statement, or a blend of the two. If you begin with a statement, be sure it points to where you are going, not simply where you’ve been.

Today’s graduates may hold 20 different jobs before retirement. Generation Xers hold an average of 7. There is more transition from vocation to vocation than there used to be, so it’s important to showcase your skills in a vocational way, meaning…not just industry-specific.

If you can meet deadlines, that’s important in a lot of different industries. A potential employer needs to see you in the role for which he or she is hiring. If you’re an educator wanting to transition into management and everything about your skills reads like a junior high classroom, that’s not helping you be viewed as a manager.

It’s good to include your computer skills, any special certifications (Real Estate license, CPR certification, computer certifications, continuing education certificates), and language competencies (besides English).

Experience

This is the section that really matters because this is what you’ve done – what you’ve accomplished. This is where all your claims of skill in the overview were gained. The overview gives a sneak peek at you as a job candidate; the Experience section helps fill in a more detailed picture.

List jobs in reverse chronological order. This means most recent (first) to oldest. You only need list jobs you want to talk about in the interview but be prepared to explain any work gaps.

Four things are needed in the header of each job listing: company name, position title, dates, and city/state (country, if international). If you think your titles are more impressive, list titles before company. If you think companies are more impressive, list companies before titles. There is no need to list bosses, references, or phone numbers here. Those go on a separate page of references (same letterhead as resume, but only offered when asked for).

Under Experience headers, list 3-5 bullets (or a short paragraph) describing accomplishments, job duties, and skills gained. Listing simple job duties without including skills gained or quantifiable achievements is to short-change yourself. The best strategy on describing your skills/job duties is to look at the job posting for the position you want. Then look at a job posting for what you currently do (or a list of about 10 of your strongest skills if you’re a first-time job applicant). Where is the intersection? These are the competencies you should highlight.

If you list more than about 5, you’ll lose your audience. We have short attention spans. Just list your best stuff and let the rest be a bonus when it comes out in the interview.

Education

Again, list degrees (or institutions attended) in reverse chronological order. Only list high school if you have not attended college classes. Include similar information to your Experience headers: institution name, degree gained (or studied), dates and city/states (countries, if international).

If your Education is more impressive than your Experience (or highly important to the position you’re applying for), list it before Experience. (Again, frontload.)

Extracurricular

Some people don’t include this section, but they should. This section makes you interesting!

If you are in professional organizations, have received any awards or scholarships, have traveled internationally (for business or pleasure) or have other language competencies, sports achievements or interesting hobbies, list them!

Be smart about it and keep it brief. Athletic achievements and international travels, especially, offer some interesting discussion during job interviews. It also says something about you if you competed in a triathlon. Don’t dismiss your personal interests as having nothing to do with a job you’re applying for. It might be the very thing that makes you a great cultural “fit” with that organization or work team.

Your resume is the first impression you make on an employer, so make it professional. Design it strategically. And know it like the back of your hand when you get called into the interview.

6 resume flaws (and how to fix them) (The Daily Muse)

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