In my time on the executive recruitment team, I got more than a few cries for help with resumes. This wasn’t too much of imposition. I found that the vast majority of resumes were easy to tighten up; only a few needed deeper meddling.
I’ve developed considerable insight into the mysteries of the resume during my time on the other side of the table from job seekers. The biggest takeaway I have to share is this: There’s no “magic bullet” that can turn every resume into a winner. The needs of different industries – and specific job openings – are just too diverse.
Still, it’s well worth your time to make your resume stand out. In most cases, your resume goes into a pile with hundreds of others, and making yours stand out to a hiring manager is not just a matter of luck and hope. Here are my top resume writing tips.
Quick Tips for a More Effective Resume
* Don’t get over-complicated. Barring specialized fields like the creative industry, a resume really only needs four key sections: Summary of Qualifications, Work Experience, Education and Certifications, and Technical Skills.
* Don’t fall into cliches. Be ruthless about purging the meaningless buzzwords (e.g. “hardworking,” “ambitious,” “team player”) that every hiring manager sees a hundred times a day.
* Emphasize your achievements. Provide details about your most impressive accomplishments. Introduce these specifics with powerful activity language. Use words like “launched,” “increased/decreased,” and “influenced.”
* Keep it short. On their first pass, hiring managers spend only an average of six seconds scanning each resume they receive. Make yours concise and try to hold it to two pages. (The IT industry is an exception to this rule; longer resumes are acceptable for describing complex qualifications.) Keep your resume short by removing experience that is irrelevant or outdated. Don’t bother including things that happened more than 15 years ago unless they’re absolutely necessary.
* Don’t embellish or lie. The drawbacks are enormous and sooner or later, unavoidable.
* Prioritize what you present. Introduce your degree right in your summary of qualifications to make sure it’s seen.
* Make your resume printer and reader-friendly. Stick to a common, legible font like Times New Roman or Arial. Don’t use text smaller than 11 point, don’t set your margins to less than a half inch on any side, and don’t indulge in any exotic page setups. Technology might be advancing fast, but resumes still get printed out for a host of reasons.
* Customize your resume for the opening. Pick the skills that are most important to the specific job you’re seeking – see Service Care Solutions for examples.
As a final tip, take a moment to make sure your resume is in agreement with your LinkedIn profile before you submit it. If your resume does attract attention, the hiring manager’s next step is likely to be learning more about you online, and that means you can count on your LinkedIn profile getting some attention. Make sure it’s up to date.