Everyone knows you need a resume to apply to a job, and if you had even a penny for every article about how to write a resume, you would never need a resume again…
But have you ever actually paused to ask, what is a resume exactly? And, why do I need a resume? I’m going to share with you some of the most valuable resume advice you’ve received to date (you might even get two pennies for this one), but before we dive in, let’s define what we are creating and why:
What is a resume? A resume is a USP – a “unique
selling proposition”. A USP is used by sellers to define what exactly makes their product or service stand out among the competition. In this case, you are both the seller, and the product.
What is a resume for? The purpose of a resume is to effectively sell yourself. Hiring managers are buyers – they are shopping for a new employee. And there are LOTS of choices. You must be able to recognize your unique value, and in your resume, clearly message what makes you a one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art, must-have product. Does that give you the heebie-jeebies? Don’t worry – you can be a human in your cover letter (Read – The Truth About Cover Letters). Besides, it’s not like you’re setting yourself up to be a disposable object. On the contrary – you are setting yourself up to be a highly valued, indispensable company asset, and to be compensated proportionately!
First Impressions and ADD
You may have heard – don’t expect a hiring manager to read your whole resume. I’m asking you to assume they will not read it! Assume everyone has ADD. Especially hiring managers. Take a piece of paper. Fold it into three sections, like you’re going to stick it in an envelope. That top section is equivalent to a hiring manager’s attention span. Time how long it takes you to loosely fill in that top section with scribbles. That’s how long you have to impress a hiring manager. Guess where you want to include your most impressive accomplishments? Bingo!
Oust the Objective
Free up that precious top third of your resume by purging that outdated objective. The sheer fact that you are submitting a resume is sufficient evidence of your objective – you want the job. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very important to actually state that you want the job, but such a statement belongs in your cover letter – not your resume. Don’t forget, your resume is a USP – a strategic, concise presentation of only the most relevant facts in an effort to convert a hiring manager into a satisfied customer.
Pithy is Powerful
In lieu of an objective, many job-seekers opt to include a “Summary of Qualifications”. Forget it! Your resume itself should be a one page summary of your qualifications. Summarizing a summary is… well, a bit redundant. Remember, you don’t have to list every single job or responsibility you’ve ever had on your resume – in fact, please don’t! Stick to only what is relevant to the position you’re applying for. And for goodness sake, unless they are absolutely undeniably relevant, don’t list your hobbies.
The Importance of R&R
Recent and Relevant are the ruling principles of your resume. Refrain from including anything that is not relevant to the position (note: this means customizing your resume for every type of job you apply to). Generally, you want to list your most recent experiences first – but if some older experiences are more relevant and outstanding, list those first. The same rules apply to all possible sections of your resume, including Education, Awards, Community Service, and Skills. As far as the order of sections, it’s generally best to start with your Experience and end with Skills. Feel free to arrange the remaining sections according to relevance.
This non-traditional resume section is trending in popularity for good reason. More and more hiring managers are shifting their focus from job experience to skills. No matter what experience you have in any given field, it all comes down to one essential factor – do you have the skills it takes to succeed? Close out your resume with a list of your job-relevant technical skills.
Strength in Numbers
The best and most impactful way to present your strengths is through the use of numbers. Numbers clearly illustrate the scope and measurable value of your accomplishments. How have your accomplishments saved companies time and money? How much time? How much money? How many lives did your accomplishment influence? You led a team of how many people? How many articles did you write, and in how much time? What are good at, and what are you recognized for? The numbers will tell.
Lights, Camera, Action!
You are the star of your resume. Don’t be afraid to use vibrant, confidence-infused action words. Try some of these beauties: Streamlined, Launched, Initiated, Led, Improved, Managed, Enhanced, Pioneered, Spearheaded. What other words are worthy of your awesomeness? Thou shalt not use any lame, boring, overused words unworthy of thine awesomeness.
Summary of Do’s and Don’ts
- Do – stick to one page.
- Do – present relevant facts that clearly communicate your unique value.
- Do – list your most impressive accomplishments first.
- Do – include a Skills section.
- Do – use numbers to present your accomplishments.
- Do – use action words.
- Don’t – include an objective.
- Don’t – include a summary of qualifications.
- Don’t – use more than one page for your resume unless absolutely necessary due to an exceptional amount of critically relevant experience.
- Don’t – list any irrelevant hobbies, experience, education, etc.
- Don’t – use passive words like “participated” or “collaborated”.
- Don’t – sell yourself short!
You are one in a million and hiring you is a unique and profitable opportunity wise companies would not want to miss – let your resume reflect that. Happy resume crafting!