Posted on May 27, 2015 at 6:00 am
Last year I was lucky enough to participate in a grant studying career development strategies. The training I received included a review of recent resume trends. So much has changed in the last ten years—enough to make me blush and blanch about my own outdated resume. When was the last time you refreshed your resume? If it’s been awhile, here are a few tips to help you get started.
The basic purpose of a resume has transformed. It isn’t to get you a job. I heard over and over again in my classes that the purpose of a resume is to get you the interview. A long, jam-packed resume detailing every job you’ve ever had is unlikely to get you very far. A resume that is tailored to the job you are seeking and specifies talents that best match the position is much more likely to entice an employer to want to meet you. While you may want a master resume from which to start, you should have multiple versions of your resume and customize each to the job to which you are applying.
Resumes come in many styles. One listing education and job experiences in order of the years worked is a chronological resume. One more focused on skills and content is a functional resume. A popular choice is to mix chronological and functional styles. Use the first part of your resume to tell the employer about your most amazing skills and traits. Once you’ve grabbed their attention and, hopefully, impressed them, list your work experiences, education and other sections in chronological order. Regardless of the style, make it easy for eyes to scan the page by keeping it clean and well-organized. Small fonts and miniscule margins aren’t fooling anyone and look cramped and cluttered—just don’t do it.
There are several ways to start a resume. I am not a fan of a “purpose statement.” The purpose of applying for a job is to get a job. Anything else tends to sound generic or insincere, and wastes precious space. However, many hiring specialists say a decision to read or reject a resume is made in the first few seconds of looking at it. If all you have is a few seconds, make it count! Tell the employer immediately and clearly why you’re the best with a skills or qualifications summary. For example: “Brilliant and extraordinarily strong superhero with 15 years of experience protecting citizens, stopping villains in their tracks, and saving kittens.” Wouldn’t you read on?
You can also craft the descriptions of your work experience to highlight the transferable skills that most closely align with the position you’re after. For example, if you have been an accountant for a kryptonite distribution company, you have skills and knowledge about accounting, retail, and the product. You could apply for a job as an accountant in a different industry, or maybe a sales position for a kryptonite manufacturer—perhaps with the goal of working your way up to replacing Lex Luther? Accounting, retail, and specialized knowledge of a product are all important and should be on your resume, but how you order and emphasize the skills and experiences should be different depending on the job application.
Next, quantify all you can—list dollars, numbers, and percents. This demonstrates your value to an employer in a concrete and objective way. For example, instead of saying, “found ways to reduce crime,” consider: “foiled the plots of 500 villains in one year” or “reduced damsels’ distress calls by 50%”. It’s hard to argue that those numbers aren’t impressive.
The last tip is proofread, proofread, and proofread. An adage from my secretary days was “there is always a typo in the beginning of a document.” Way too often, it’s true. Ask friends and family to proofread your resume. And don’t forget the library! We have a resume lab and proofreading service. Upload your resume to JobNow and a vetted specialist will review it, make suggestions, and send it back. I also recommend checking out the Resources for Job Seekers section of our website.
Never forget the lens through which a potential employer is reviewing your resume. They are seeking the candidate that will do the best job, produce the best product, and/or provide the best service. Put these resume tips and tricks into play to help show that employer you’re the right superhero for the job.