Writing a resume – for a novice, it can feel as intimidating as jumping into an icy pool of sharks. In this sink-or-swim environment of prolific layoffs and limited resources, your resume can mean the difference between a new career and another 6 months of searching. There are so many questions – where to start? What to include? How to format? Somehow people do it, and somehow they succeed, limbs intact.
But like sharks, resumes aren’t really as mean and scary as people make them out to be. They’re just misunderstood creatures which, if handled incorrectly, can do a heck of a lot of damage.
1) Less is More
Keep yourself to a single page: This may seem difficult at first, but hiring managers and recruiters spend on average 6 minutes reading a resume. Keep yours efficient and to the point to make the most of the short period of time in which you have their attention. Leave the long-winded prose for your cover letter and interview.
2) Cater to Your Audience
Market yourself based on the position you’re applying for. Think about what strengths, skills and experiences will resonate with the hiring manager. The worst thing you can do is pile on junk just to take up space. You don’t have to list everything you’ve ever done; be selective. Giving information that isn’t relevant or doesn’t make sense makes you look desperate and floundering – not a great position to be in whether you’re applying for a job or trying to avoid ending up shark bait.
3) Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Keep it clean. Don’t go crazy with formatting frills, which will only distract employers. The focus should be on you and what you’ve done, not your flower print border or Party LET font. Treat your resume like an organized outline or webpage. The writing should be bulleted, simple, and to the point.
4) Say This, Not That
Give tangible examples that can be easily understood. If you had never seen a shark before, “has a tail” wouldn’t exactly help you to pick one out in a crowded tank. In the same way, broad generalizations won’t mean anything to an employer who is trying to differentiate you from all of the other similarly qualified individuals in his applicant pool. There is a big difference between a description like “grew revenue” and one that explains, “grew revenue 25% over 12 months“.
5) Liar, Liar Pants on Fire
Don’t be shy, but don’t lie. Promote yourself and be proud of who you are and what you’ve done, but don’t say anything you can’t effectively back up face-to-face. Who knows, what may seem trivial to you may strike a chord with your interviewer in ways you don’t anticipate. Always be prepared to explain every word on your resume.
Your resume is the very first thing that travels to your potential employer’s desk, take it seriously and you’ll find yourself in an ocean of opportunity.
Good luck and happy job hunting!
The Doostang Team