Nobody should be the victim of their own resume.
Odds are you have neglected your resume. It is a poor reflection of who you are, what you have done and where you are going. I see so many horrific resumes! This is your key marketing and networking document whether you like it or not. Once you come to grips with the fact that this document will probably determine how your career path goes, hopefully you will spend more time updating it than the few seconds it takes to read it. Yes, the average resume is read for just 8-10 seconds. However updating your resume will take hours. But it has been my experience that few people update their resumes regularly and then slap one together when they need it.
I have joked that I send my resume to my mother for mother's day because it makes her beam with pride.
We all know that a resume is not whole truth, but it can't contain lies. Big difference!
Every resume should be re-booted and renovated. For if you have not learned anything, accomplished anything, or done anything over the last x years since you updated your resume, you should go straight to the unemployment office and not collect $200. Every resume needs to be updated.
How do you differentiate yourself? How do you tell YOUR story? How are you interesting?
Here are 10 easy basic steps to evaluate and tune up your resume:
- No Career Objective–Save your customized language for the cover letter. Listing a generic job goal hurts you.
- Chronological Only!–No functional resumes! These look like you are trying to hide something! No one can read these and figure out what you did and when. Use months to show employment periods.
- Lead with Education If You are Young–New grads have to tout their degrees. But people out for 5 years or so put education at the end.
- One Page for New Grads Only--If you have no substantive work/professional experience, then use a single sheet. But if you have accumulated real and relevant experience then you can go to two or more. After three, you better have cured cancer!
- Describe Your Employer–If the reader does know the company/organization they assume the worst. Add a couple of sentences that describe the unique qualities and mission of your employer. You can take it off their website. Some employers are well known, but most are mysteries.
- What Did you Do with your Job Responsibilities?– List the duties of what anyone would do in your job, but add bullets that relect the accomplishments you achieved. What did you do with the job that was beyond the average occupant of this position? Did you bring in money, save money, create innovations, solve problems…..? How did you add value?
- Nothing Fancy–No special fonts, no colored paper, no images/logos or photos of you! Remember most resumes are input into systems and fancy formatting gets re-arranged and makes your resume look really bad.
- Add Internships, Volunteer Work, and Other Activities can be Integrated–When relevant to a particular job, you should include the substantive roles in and amongst your work history. If you chaired a major board or a committee of the company, then list it as a "job".
- Remove References Upon Request–Never list your references at the end. You will want to give the hiring organization a customized list of names that reflect their interests and requests. Taking off the obvious statement "References Upon Request" will give your more space.
- Great Cover Letter–Very important that this never is a generic note that feels like a mass mailing form letter. This is a great canvas where you will paint a picture of yourself that you want the reader to get. What is your story? Tell it so the reader does not have to guess. Plus you can mention who referred you to this job/organization. Being referred is the most powerful thing you can do. That referring name differentiates your resume/application from the others. Plus, they have to remember what they did with you in case there is follow-up!
Time Gaps--You were laid off 8 months ago. You been on maternity/mommy leave for a couple years. Unless you were just on the couch, you were doing something besides applying for jobs online, right? Any consulting, volunteer work, internships become more relevant especially at the top of your resume. Recent studies show you will get way fewer call backs when there is an extended gap at the top of your resume. Duh!
Proof Readers–Have your confidantes read your stuff for readability, typos, grammar, formatand to help you present the best case. They know you and they will also push you to brag appropriately.
Resume Resources–Many online free resources. I like Rileyguide.
Please reboot your resume. Get it into to shape to represent you well! Impossible to network without one.
Thanks for reading. John