Here’s what you need to be doing with your resume.
THIS will be short, and sweet…
…like your resume needs to be.
Here’s what you SHOULD’T be doing.
Unprofessional email addresses: Email addresses are free. If your email address is silly, suggestive, ideological, or anything other than professional… make another one for just job applications. Why? You’re being judged and this is your potential paycheck you’re playing with. Take it seriously.
Listing too many experiences: You aren’t obligated to list every single job, volunteer event, project, or club you’ve ever been a part of. If you do, it can easily appear that you’re fluffing up your resume to make up for missing skills or lack of experience. Your goal needs to be keeping things concise and short as possible while still summarizing your strengths and relevant qualifications.
Keep details at bay: If your resume includes jobs that aren’t related, keep the individual tasks and roles to an absolute minimum. It’s perfectly fine to describe certain experiences for one job while only listing titles for others, otherwise your resume may end up too long (which is a bad thing.)
Outdated information: Limit your resume to the last few years unless it includes a long stint at one company. Update your resume constantly so it’s always fresh, even if you’re not currently job hunting. Delete things that no longer apply, and keep the strongest/most relevant skills right up top.
Gaps: Emplyoment gaps equal instant hesitation and suspicion from the hiring manager. If possible, avoid breaks in your employment history. However, if you can’t avoid certain gaps, feel free to briefly explain these gaps in your cover letter.
Common knowledge: You don’t need to state that you’re proficient at “typing”, know how to use Microsoft Word, or are proficient in English…unless you’re competing in a job market where these three things are uncommon. Use every word on your resume with intent to show your strongest points, and only those..
Uncommon knowledge: Certain terms are universal in every industry (such as FMLA: Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993), others aren’t. For example… I helped my comoany meet KPI’s, and before that I worked on CDMs. Do you know either of those things are? One is an internal acronym that measures if we’re meeting goals, and the other stands for Cash Dispense Machine (which other companies call Cash Recyclers, dispensers, and brand names). If the acronym or skill is internal lingo and not standard throughout the entire industry you’re applying in, find a way to translate it for everyone to understand.
“References Available Upon Request”: Recruiters have hundreds of applicants to filter through. Why should they reach out and request something from you if the next applicant offered it up front? Highlight every strength you have clearly on your resume, and this applies to your references. Don’t cut any corners.
Objectives: Some people prefer them, but the modern job market is trending away. At the end of the day, most objectives just say “to find a job I like” in very fancy, fluffy wording. It’s a waste of valuable text and space, so just leave it off. If you’re insistent, try using “Career Summary” instead that can briefly explain what you’ve already accomplished.
Very Long/Short resumes: I like resumes to be one full-page, or two full pages. If it’s shorter than one full page, it’s going to appear unfinished. If it’s longer than two pages, it’s going to look like an essay. Strike a happy balance.
Here’s what you SHOULD be doing.
Make a cover letter: Pulled straight from the dictionary, a cover letter is sent with, and explaining the contents of, another document or a parcel of goods. A cover letter explains who you are, why you’re applying, and what you bring to the table. It’s an extra opportunity to promote yourself, so use it wisely. If you need help making a solid cover letter, HERE is a guide and sample cover letter.
Make customized resumes: In my most recent job search, I searched in a couple of fields: Marketing, automotive, mortgages, and financial management. I had a resume for each that was 80% identical but had small tweaks that highlighted certain strengths for that particular industry. Making a customized resume lets you do three things.
- Relate to a specific job: Somebody looking to hire me to do marketing doesn’t care that I hold a real estate license. My current job in mortgages didn’t care that I used to sell used cars. You can bring up other experiences in your interview, but your skills and relateability to this particular opening must be impressive enough that you earn an interview.
- Relate to a specific situation: Recruiters respond better to applicants that they can relate to. If I sent my financial management resume to an accounting firm, they might be interested in the technical skills that I can show off. The reader needs to know that I know my stuff, this position, and how to conduct myself in an often quiet, but hectic, environment.
- Emphasize your strengths: If you’re not applying to specialized fields, or have little experience, then customized resumes might be overkill. However, if you’re like most applicants, you need every opportunity to display what you know. As mentioned above, this is an easy trick to do so.
Do the work for them: Generally, a resume gets scanned (not read) for 25 seconds before they decide to act. Write yours in a way that a substantial amount of knowledge can be obtained in 25 seconds or less. Pro tip: Use bullet points If you’re posting your resume to online job boards, make sure to use common tag words so it automatically shows up in searches.
Identify accomplishments: Did you win employee of the month? Did you save a big client? Did you learn a new skill? Write it down. Focus on what you DID in this job, not what your title was. An easy point to ask yourself is “how did this make a difference?” — If you can answer this, write it down!
Network!: Did you know that 3 out of 4 companies hire applicants that were referred by somebody before ever giving an external candidate a chance? Make sure you are always in the running and reach out to people you know. Friends, family, former business contacts, people you’ve worked for, and people who have worked for you all are fair game. Let them know that you’re job hunting and would love an opportunity to join their team. You never know what doors will fly open if you ask!