It is doubtful that anyone approaches the prospect of creating a resume with enthusiasm. It is more like the level of excitement felt when going in for a teeth cleaning or spending a Saturday organizing the garage. Resumes can be daunting because there is no one right way to form one and everyone seems to have differing opinion about what works and what doesn’t. Yes, there are different methodologies to creating resumes and that is okay. One size does not fit all. However, there are some thoughts around resumes that seem to be universally accepted, mainly that a resume is a sales documents which need to contain key elements. Your resume has about two seconds to sing. People who make hiring decisions have a practiced eye. They scan resumes to see if important keywords and accomplishments are highlighted. Because the goal is to make the cut through the two-second scan and get a more thorough read, your resume must be easy to read and focused on tangible achievements. And remember, numbers jump off the page. Below is outlined some of those key sections of a resume.
Introduce yourself by putting your name, city, state, zip, phone number, and personal email in a header at the top. If you know the resume is going to a trusted source, include the full mailing address because most hiring managers will mail documents for the onboarding process once a hire is made and it makes it that much easier to send if your address is already listed. However, for personal safety reasons, do not include your actual physical address when mailing to a blind ad. But do always include the city and state. LinkedIn is the number one tool used by recruiters today. Give yourself an edge and have your LinkedIn address in the header as well.
As a side note, although it is common to communicate by text, many hiring managers still schedule interviews through email. Make it a habit of checking your email several times a day.
A stated objective is unnecessary. It is inherent in the fact that you are applying for a job that your objective is to gain said job. In the prime real estate of your resume, you can’t afford to waste any space. Resumes by their very nature are generic. However, instead of trying to make it more specific by including an objective, I recommend including a cover letter or, “statement of match.” Take the target job description and write a brief statement explaining how your skill-set matches up to the job as you understand it. Customize the statement of match for each individual job you apply for and send it as an introduction to your resume.
If you do feel it is important or you are encouraged to include an objective, please tailor the objective to the job. Most of the objectives I see are either too broad or too specific, but not apropos to the job at hand.
The bullet-point resume format will never go out of style because it works and it is clean and efficient. Professional writers know the value of white space. This is the blank part of the page not cluttered up with visually overwhelming black. Huge blocks of bolded, paragraph-like text jamming up your resume can visually intimidate the recipient. In addition, in a quest to keep the resume to one page, sometimes people will squeeze the font down to 9 pt., or even smaller. That it is making it unnecessarily hard for the recipient to effectively read.
A carefully chosen mix of bolding, underling, and italics combined with bullet-points on a page makes for the most easy-to-read resume. Graphs and visuals are fine to highlight achievements, as long as the page does not get too busy.
Clearly state the name of the companies you have worked for, dates of service, a brief statement of what the company does, and your title.
If you have had any job under a two-year tenure, explain why either in the body of the resume or in your statement of match. A simple (laid-off) by your last day worked is sufficient.
Conversely, if you have been with the same company and promoted on several occasions, make that perfectly clear. If this is not handled carefully, your promotions can look like new jobs to someone who is scanning your resume, making you appear as a job hopper. This scenario is handled most simply by ensuring that the company name is clearly labeled at the top and each new job is an obvious sub-category of that same company. Stating something like, “Promoted June 16, 2018”, by each new job title will show the pathway of your advancements.
Always keep at the forefront of your mind that your resume is a sales document. Initially, it may be the only tool you have to launch yourself into the interview stage. Use action verbs that end in the suffix “ed”. However, write your current job details in the present tense, avoiding whenever possible passive verbs that end in “ing”.
There is often a misconception when writing a bullet-point format that each line should contain a simple recapture of tasks performed. Of course, it is important to outline the facets of any job, but the key is to be accomplishment-focused. All resumes should have numbers included. Employers want to see what you have accomplished in your career such as how you boosted productivity on your team by a certain percentage point, how you saved the company a specific amount of dollars by your auditing skills, or how you increased gross profit. No matter what the job title held, you need to communicate that you have a positive impact on a corporate bottom line. Numbers help effectively convey that message.
If you graduated from college, make room to include some brief details. Mention the type of degree you have and from what school. Minors are interesting as well. Only include your GPA if it is exceptional. Certainly, include any honors bestowed or significant extracurricular activities.
Go on a typo and grammar witch hunt. Sloppy writing and syntax can reflect the false impression of a careless individual. Enlist trusted colleagues to read your resume thoroughly after you’ve made a draft you feel is getting close to final. Choose professionals in your industry, if at all possible, and people who are good enough friends to be honest. If the resume confuses people who know you, then some tightening up is in order.
Also, please make sure you have a trusted friend or colleague read over your LinkedIn profile. The typos on that platform are notorious.
Somehow, two-page resumes have received a bad rap. There is nothing wrong with these and indeed, if there is a robust work history, it is essential. Again, there shouldn’t be a temptation to squeeze more on the page by increasingly shrinking the font size. However, if you are new to the workforce, one-page should be sufficient. Also, watch the size of your files. Graphic heavy resumes create gigantic files that are hard to store or send. Convert your resume to a .pdf so regardless of the platform used by the recipient, they will be sure to be able to view it.
A job-seeker needs a reliable voice mail with a professional greeting. Record it in a quiet space and make sure you state at least your first name. In addition, when you receive a call, it is pleasing and helpful to the caller to hear, “Good morning, this is (name).”
Also, get an e-mail address that doesn’t make people snicker. Mrstudmuffin may be appropriate, but best to be kept for personal friends. You don’t want to have to find yourself saying or spelling something really embarrassing to a Human Resources manager!
With careful execution, your overall presentation can be an instant eye-grabber and get you the green-light to the interview stage.