Siri, why do I need a resume?
Siri, resumes are confusing!
I’m just trying to help you.
Siri, tell me how to write a resume.
I’m on it…
Into to the Future? Or Back to the Past…?
If you ask Siri for resume help, she will give you a list of resume writing tips stuck in Career Services circa the year I graduated from university in 1999. How can it be that with nearly 15 years of LinkedIn under our belts, ancient resume advice is still permeating the web?
So, how do you write a resume in 2017?
An effective resume targets your intended job market, and it defines what you can offer to your potential employer. A winning resume distinguishes you from your peers and demonstrates to employers what you can do and how you will make a positive impact if they hire you.
My standard template for a winning resume is the following:
- Professional Profile Summary
- Skills & Experience
- Work Experience
- Education (new graduates your education should come second)
- Optional: awards, special recognition or relevant memberships
Your relevant work history might include both paid work and internships or unpaid volunteer work. Your highest level of education and or appropriate job training can both be included if relevant. New job seekers should list education before work experience; experienced job seekers should list education towards the end. Your resume should not contain everything you have ever done nor should it be so chock full of detail that you sound like a robot or that your career objectives get lost in translation.
Keep your resume relevant to the position that you are applying for right now.
Every time you change your work objectives, you must update your resume accordingly. Never send an identical resume to 10 different companies. Customize your resume for EVERY. SINGLE. JOB.
Is format important?
The first link Siri shared with me, starts by suggesting that the first thing to do is to “format your text,” so that you can make a good impression. Sure. How your resume LOOKS is important. Recruiters, hiring managers, your future boss needs to be able to READ your resume. But please, don’t start by spending an hour finding the perfect type. Select something easy on the eyes. Something that will save easily as a PDF. Arial, Garamond or Times New Roman are all good. The critical part of your resume is the CONTENT.
The next suggestion Siri gives is to set up your margins. In the last 20 years, I have yet to come across a word processing software that does not have pre-formatted margins. Have you? The key here is not to cram your resume so full that you feel motivated to customize your margins down to practically nothing. Leave your margins at 1-inch and carry on.
Multiple pages: ok or not ok?
Probably at least 50 percent of folks (yes YOU reading this post) should only have a 1-page resume. ONE PAGE. Even people who have had 4 or 5 or even ten jobs can probably fit them (or at least the relevant jobs) on a single page. You don’t have to list every position you have ever held. If you have held a bunch of different jobs, consider listing “relevant” professional experience and leave off “irrelevant” experience.
On the flip side, if you are applying for executive-level jobs or senior level jobs, go ahead and use the full two pages. Just make sure your content counts.
Keep it RELEVANT
Focus on the skills that count for the job you want. If you have multiple skill sets and or you are applying for different jobs, make two or three different resumes. You don’t need to list every accomplishment. And sometimes it is better to highlight the skills or knowledge that allowed you to achieve an achievement, then the specific accomplishment itself.
What about references?
Other advice that pops up towards the top of Siri’s list includes listing “references.” This is terrible advice. You don’t need to list or even mention your references. Most standard applications have a space to fill in references, and if not, your hiring manager will ask you for them. Some jobs don’t even care about references. Real-estate on your resume page is valuable, so don’t waste it on references.
What Siri doesn’t tell you: Do Some Spywork
First, find two or three online job listings for companies that you would like to work for. Identify the language keywords, key phrases, key skills) in the job listings and use these as an outline for your content.
Use LinkedIn or company websites to research the executives, the companies mission and even try to find your potential hiring manager. Then review job listings and your peers’ resumes or LinkedIn profiles for keywords and strategic phrases that you might want to include.
Draft your professional summary (who are you and what do you offer) and re-vamp your work experience. Make sure you use action words that show what you have accomplished. Write in an active voice. And last but not least, proofread, spell check, and ask a friend to do the same. Every time you make a change, double check for errors!
Of the first 10 or so links that Siri shared with me, NONE of them cover what makes a resume STELLAR. None of them tell you how to: “Rock that Resume. Every. Time,”so here are a few additional tips.
Templates that are easy on the eyes
With all the design apps and design software available to us today, it is easy to get caught up in designing the perfect resume. This is dangerous territory. Color prints are still expensive to make. Templates don’t always transfer correctly. Text can easily be lost or fall out of alignment.
When I use resumes, I use a simple and clean format with black text on white. It’s easy to read and easy to understand. I like to loosely base my resumes off of a “Harvard” style format, what you probably envision as a traditional resume.
Below I share two slightly more modern resume templates. One for the recent graduate. One for a more experienced job seeker. Both remain simple suggestions. Clean layouts. Copy these or do something similar. Remember: keep it simple. You don’t need fancy formatting or fancy colors. If you are not a graphic designer in real life, resume creation day is not the time to become one.
EXPERIENCED JOB SEEKER
What do you mean by “professional profile?”
You will notice that I like to start resumes with a “profile.” In the past, this space has been used for a “job objective” or a “professional summary.” I try and stay away from the word “summary” because this space is most effectively used to demonstrate who you are, what you can do, and why you want to do it. It’s not a summary of your skills, but rather a performance profile, highlighting what you offer an employer.
In this section, you will actively paint a picture of the value you offer an employer in a short paragraph in ideally 3 or 4 sentences. This is a space to show your human side, to show your unique brand, and to sell yourself. You can use this same professional profile to start off your LinkedIn Profile. I often write these in first person.
Relevant and Interesting
Your resume should be easy to read, relevant, and interesting. Never list your tasks and responsibilities in simple bullet points without any explanation. This will make you sound like a robot. Instead, if appropriate use “I” statements and talk about your achievements. If you want to write a more traditional third-person resume, start by writing “I statements” and then go through and remove the “I”s.
Show potential employers your strengths and your passions. Bullet points are OK if you want to make your resume easy to read. If you use bullets to make sure you write in complete sentences! Take the time to demonstrate that there is a competent and interesting human behind the paper.
When your resume is done save it in PDF format and ask a friend to read it over one last time.
Do you want to achieve your dreams?
In the world of resumes and job searches, there are always more losers than winners. For every single job offer posted, remember that easily 50 or 100 or more candidates apply! Let me help you write a winning resume, so you can clinch that dream job. I want you to be excited to go to work every morning!