The resume—so simple, yet so difficult. While the resume is one of the oldest methods to showcase competency (Leonardo Da Vinci wrote the first one in 1482), they have become a foundational piece in the hiring process. They are the inanimate gatekeeper, the first key to unlocking a new, exciting opportunity. Resumes are an interesting subject as they appear to be straightforward but be forewarned…a great resume takes time and attention to detail. Outlined below are key resume tips on what to include and exclude when sprucing up your personal snapshot:
Resume Basics – Content, Length, and Layout
A great resume hits on the big 3: Education, Experience, and Accomplishments. These three pieces are crucial to showcasing your skills to potential hiring managers. If you have been in the workforce for over 3 years, it is recommended to have your work experience on the top and your education below. However, if you are a recent college graduate, your Education section should immediately follow your contact information.
Resume length is often debated, but 2 pages MAX is a safe bet. If you have less experience, maybe fewer than 5-10 years, or have only worked at one company or one job, you should try to squeeze it down to one page. Being concise with impactful content is most important, so don’t try to take up space with extra copy. Hiring managers have a number of resumes on their desk and they should be able to read it quickly. They want you to “Be quick, be brilliant, be gone.”
For the Education section, list the school and type of degree/diploma along with the date of graduation, so hiring managers can easily reconstruct a career timeline. The graduation date is less important if your experience spans 20 years or more. If you have a GPA above 3.5, leave that on your resume if you have 5 years or less experience. Also, make sure you have a professional email address. Yes, firstname.lastname@example.org is fun for emailing friends, but get a new one (they are free) when applying to a new role.
Showcasing Your Experience Correctly
- Show Career Progression In Previous Roles – If you have been promoted at past jobs, then show it! Hiring managers love to see professionals who have earned the right to take on greater responsibilities. Promotions demonstrate retention, work ethic, attention to detail, skill level and valuable intangibles.
- Job Bullets– These should be concise and focus on facts! Long paragraphs are often not read carefully and personal opinions such as “excellent problem solver” or “great communication skills” are not objective facts. Include your main responsibilities in the role but also make sure you’ve included at least a couple of specific accomplishments, as these show how WELL you did your job vs. simply listing what your deliverables were.
- Measurable Facts– Showcase measurable facts from your previous experience. Many candidates are good at “month-end reporting” but can everyone claim they reduced its preparation time by 25%? Probably not. Take the time to expand and show your differentiators while avoiding the day-to-day monotonous tasks you completed.
- Know The Role – Your resume should change slightly depending on the role you are applying for. Specifically, your accomplishments and work experience should be catered to fit the new job (as long as it is 100% true!) and you can remove bullets that you feel are unlikely to coincide with what they are looking for.
This is arguably the most important part of your resume, and it is often overlooked. Throughout your resume highlight the amazing things you have achieved. Examples include:
- Selected by your manager to lead a team or project
- Designed a process or solution that saved 5 hours on a monthly task
- Received a company award or recognition for innovation
- Chosen by the client to work on complex accounts over peers
If you are running into roadblocks, look through past reviews from managers and use their positive remarks as a jumping-off point. Remember, there are others applying to the role with similar skillsets and even though you may work harder or have an ideal personality, you can’t truly tell that through a resume. You need to brag a little (professionally and humbly of course) to really showcase your skills and experience.
Take the time to make your resume great. What does that mean? Proofread, get outside feedback and double-check formatting. The resume is your one and only shot to get an interview so it should be perfect. A little extra effort can go a very long way in securing a new job!
If you have any further questions about working with recruiters or anything about the recruiting process, give us a call at 713-357-9565. We want to give unbiased answers to your questions, whether you choose to engage our help or not.