How to properly tell your story.
There are several different ideas about what a resume should be, but there are a couple of things that are universal. The first page is your selling page, and the content of your resume will ultimately get you noticed. No matter how well formatted and perfectly sculpted, it is your combination of experience, education, and skills that will land you the interview in most cases. The presentation of those three things can separate you from those with similar/equal qualifications, and that is the reason you should take your resume very seriously. The tips below should help you manage the process and refresh your resume so that you can put your best foot forward and get that call for an interview.
Your resume is the main tool you will use to convince a stranger to talk to you about their open position. You probably won’t be there when they are reading it for the first time, and you will only get a chance to explain something in your history if there is enough there to make them want to talk to you. Things you can control: Punctuation/Grammar/Spelling – These are tools in your MS Word and Google Docs, so it’s just a matter of making sure you use them. Font – Whatever font you settle on should be the same throughout the entire document unless you are using a different font for headers. Make sure your fonts are aligned if you are copying and pasting information from other documents into your resume. Nothing says I’m not very serious about myself like misspelled words, a variety of fonts, bullets out of alignment and bad grammar. Do yourself a favor and have someone you trust to give your resume a good review before you start sending it out.
What Resume Works Best for You?
The three main resume types: Functional, Chronological and Combination. My preferred resume is Chronological with very specific attention to professional achievement. What have you accomplished at your job? How have you made the business better? What have you achieved? Listing accomplishments give the reader an idea of what kind of potential asset they are bringing into their organization. Listing duties do not show who you are and what you have done. You can distinguish yourself by providing a summary of your duties than a list of 3 to 5 accomplishments per job. Whatever you choose, make sure it gets you the results you are looking for and if it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to change it to one of the other options.
Summary or Objective?
One of the most common questions I’m asked is “which one is “preferred” the professional summary or the objective.” The truth is all hiring managers are different people, and it is impossible to know who prefers one or the other. The good news is you have options; you can pick one of the two or go with neither if you so choose. I prefer the summary; I think it allows you to give the reader a brief explanation of why you are perfect for the position and can make your first-page pop. You can use about four sentences to highlight all the skills that you have that apply to the position you are applying for, and that can be the difference between you and someone else getting the call for the interview.
How far back should I go?
In most cases, it should only go back ten years. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, you can feel safe with a 10-year window. If you feel like you have pertinent skills that you would like to showcase on your resume outside of that window you can create an additional skills section on your resume and highlight those skills.
How many pages should it be?
Your resume should be as brief as possible without sacrificing content. What does that mean? If you are choosing a chronological resume and you haven’t had many jobs, it may be possible to fit everything on one page but don’t be discouraged if it spills over into two pages. You should be able to fit ten years of work comfortably with a two-page resume. The main focus should be page one for the reader (not the HR scanning software), and if they would like to know more about you, they will move on to the subsequent pages. If they aren’t sold after page one chances are they will stop there.
When should you update it?
You should update your resume whenever you take on a new position after the first six months. This doesn’t mean editing the document per se, but you can make notes of your work accomplishments similarly to your yearly review so when you are ready to make edits you don’t have to think about what you have accomplished during your time, there should you choose to leave. A running list of accomplishments will give you a really good idea of where you are as an employee and where you add value to the team and the company as a whole.
How should you update it?
If your resume is already current this part is easy; you can simply add your newest position at the top and remove the last position from the bottom of your work experience if it falls off the 10-year window. Just be sure you are using the same font and formatting, and you will be fine. If it’s not current, you may want to consider a complete overhaul especially if you aren’t happy with the formatting or want to you use a more up to date template. The internet is filled with templates if you aren’t happy with the offerings of MS Office or Google Docs, find the one that suits you and transfer your content.
Put your best foot forward. Take your resume very seriously. Job hunting is challenging, and you are already putting yourself at the bottom of the pile if you don’t put in the time and effort to make your resume the best possible representation of you. If you don’t want to do it yourself hire someone but know that to succeed it will be a collaborative effort, there is no magic that can happen without your input.