Ready…set…write (or not).
First I want you to open your filing cabinet, external hard drive, or desktop folder. You know, the one with all those languishing resumes in it. Count how many versions of a resume you have, or completely different resumes. Can you figure out where I’m going yet? Here’s a hint: You should have more than one resume. If you only have one you either already have the job of your dreams, or you need some serious assistance writing a good resume.
To illustrate my point I decided to dust off my old resume folder, and inside I found two additional folders containing generalized resumes and specific resumes. I didn’t even realize how many I had but after a quick count my total came to seven complete generalized and specific resumes (2 generals, 5 specific). Believe it or not that’s a small number when you think about it. You need more than one resume – you need to curtail the needs of a business, or industry, into your resume and above all else understand that in a competitive job market you want to make that two-page document stand out.
Okay here we go. Tips:
- It’s Marketing – Some find it hard to write a concise and direct resume because they have so much experience and history with which they can rely upon, but here’s the thing; if it isn’t relevant to the specific job your applying for…DON’T PUT IT ON YOUR RESUME. You have to treat your resume as if it is a only a two-page advertisement that flashes across the screen for 15 seconds, and that time frame is generous. With employers skimming through stacks of resumes at light speeds you need to emphasize the qualities and experience that will get you an interview. As with any advertisement you don’t want to just show them what you can do (the product), but also demonstrate that if you hire said person, they will give you these specific, direct benefits that will help your company. Keep in mind – they don’t hire you for ‘you’ they do it for ‘them’.
- Interest – A resume must include your job history, but reading about your experience as a cashier is hardly interesting to an employer. Try to bring your resume to life on a page by using methods like the Situation-Action-Result design (SAR). Using this method you write action based verbs in relation to a certain scenario and then list the achievement or result of that action. Something such as “Increased customer sales by 20% by reorganizing employee rotations to ensure equal opportunities at each station which then highlighted the best working team.” The statement above is an example of the reverse SAR design highlighting the result first to attract attention then describing the action and situation involved.
- Standards – Pay attention to industry standards such as resume length and parameters. I have spoken to older employees who state that their resume is one page in length and that’s how they’ve always kept it, unfortunately if you look at the standard acceptable length currently the requirement is two pages. If they were applying for a job now they wouldn’t even make the first cut pile.
- Use your space wisely – An employer won’t care that you’re a single mother or that you have three cats. There are certain aspects that should always appear on a resume: education, job history, and key qualifications, so when you are filling in the sections of your resume and trying to fit everything on to two pages try following a standard rule – 1-3 bullet points per description (no more) and make sure that if you are emphasizing a certain position you highlight it in such a way that it is noticed.
- Design – The great thing about a resume is that it is completely individualistic. Font, spacing, indents, and accents are all things you can play with in order to make your resume stand out. While playing with these features is fun make sure to keep it consistent throughout the entire document, and always make sure that a printed resume copy is legible – it may appear fine before you send it but if an employer prints a copy and the font is illegible – you’re not getting hired. Make sure your resume flows and doesn’t require effort on the part of the reviewer simply to figure out what each section of your resume means. Make it easy for them.
- Avoid key resume mistakes – Most people don’t realize they’re doing it until after, but if you hand your resume to a peer and they can’t read it or they start laughing it’s time to make some edits. Always have a professional email on your resume because things like “firstname.lastname@example.org” are automatically tossed aside, and avoid those time tested and failed cliches such as “Hard-working” because everyone can say they’re hard working but on what kind of scale are you measuring that value of work.
Thank you readers. That marks the end of our Career Planning section – stay tuned for our next installment.
Check out http://www.sheridancollege.ca/life-at-sheridan/student-services/career-centre/find-work/resumes-and-cover-letters.aspx for more information and assistance on resume writing.