When you read this title, you probably thought “Oh good, someone is finally going to tell me the formula for writing the perfect resume.” I’d like to go ahead and crush expectations immediately. The truth is, nobody knows what the hell is going on when it comes to resumes, and anyone who claims differently is a filthy liar. The only person who knows exactly what will impress the hiring manager is the hiring manager, but here are some simple steps you can take to set yourself apart for the rest of the world.
Step 1: Pay Attention To Your Content
Read the Job Ad carefully. Make sure you address all of the essentials mapped out in the ad in your resume. This includes:
- · Relevant Experience
- · Relevant Education
- · Competencies
- · Training
- · Skills
A good way to make sure you cover everything is to create a chart where you have all of the information contained in the ad on one side, and then content from your resume on the other side. It sounds like a given that you would do this, but you would be surprised at how many people don’t.
Example: Think of the poor recruiter who is screening this resume. He probably screened hundreds of applicants and got to your resume where you assumed that because you have a college diploma, you didn’t need to talk about your high school diploma. The truth is there are some college programs that don’t require the high school diploma, so if the ad states you need it…you need to have it there. When it’s absent the recruiter has the option of screening you out or calling you. What do you think is going to happen in a pool of 300 applicants? If they are nice enough to call you (or they were forced to), they probably had to do it for at least 20 other people. They hate you now… in the face.
Tips on Content
- Quantify your experience as much as possible. People have faith in numbers. If you increased something by XXX percent or managed a process for XXX number of clients/employees, include the numbers…unless they’re not impressive…then don’t.
- No one ever thought an objective statement was a good idea. No one knows where they came from, but they keep showing up….they should stop doing that. A bulleted list of skills and training that highlight why you are perfect for the position would be much more beneficial.
- Links!!!! They are the best ideas ever!!! If you’re applying to a position where experience with social media is an asset, include links to your social media accounts. When listing your experience, the name of the company you worked for should be a link to the company’s website. (I stole this idea from @MsJuliaRS and I don’t feel bad about it.)
Step 2: Know Your Audience
How is the job ad written? Is it very formal and stuffy? Was it creative? Was it awesome? Were there pictures? Try and adapt your resume to the style of writing on the job ad AND the company’s website. There are a million different multimedia tools to present yourself, you just have to find the best one. This is a personal choice. If you’re applying to an ad that was written in a very formal way, but you’re a very creative person, you have to decide whether you want to stand out due to your creativity or if you want to show them you are a good fit with their culture. Either way is hit or miss. The important thing to note is that you ARE adapting your resume to each individual ad.
Dear people sending the same generic resume to all job ads.
Recruiters are looking for people who are a “perfect” fit for the position. A generic profile says “Hey! I saw your ad and it didn’t excite me enough to make me want to put forth any extra effort. I’m cool if you give me the job, but I’m not gonna try really hard for it.” Epic Fail!
Step 3: Formatting
Unless the company indicated standards for the format, all bets are off. Your font should be big enough to see and not something ridiculous like Wingdings. If you’re applying to a large organization with a well-developed HR department, they will most likely be looking for a chronological resume. If you’re applying to a leadership position in a medium to small sized organization, they may appreciate a competency based resume…but really…who the hell knows? Just do what you think is best after completing step 4.
Step 4: Ask For Feedback
Everyone and their dog has some kind of advice for you when it comes to your resume. Get as much of their opinions as possible, but assess their feedback and make your own decision. I went to see a career counsellor for advice on job applications once… she was six different kinds of useless (see how I used numbers to quantify that?). All she did was show me how to format it “properly” and sent me on my way. If you ask someone for help and they give you advice without seeing the ad, they are useless. If you know someone in the company you are applying to, ask them. If possible, ask someone in HR or management.
Step 5: Proofread
Mistakes = Fail….don’t make them.
There are no real rules when it comes to resumes, and there are a million different options. Just try and appear to be the best (insert job title you are applying for here) on paper (or other forms of media). Make sure when you finally send it, you’re proud of what was there. You don’t want to kick yourself later for taking a risk (or not taking a risk) because of someone else’s opinion.