Monday, May 20, 2013

Resumes - What is critical?

I was hooked on fashion at 13 and started working in retail very early to support my clothing habit.  It turned into a career in a chaotic industry that I adore! My degree is in Retail Merchandising and Management. My career path has included Merchandising leadership, Retail Management and In-house corporate recruiting.  The journey has led to the creation of Apparel Resource a boutique recruiting firm servicing the fashion industry for the last 7 years. We are blessed to work with amazing candidates and clients! Kate (one of those amazing people) invited me to guest write.  So where to start?  We decided Resumes.
How do you possibly get your entire career story onto one or two sheets of paper?  The simple answer is you don’t and you shouldn’t try to.  Resumes typically get about 11 seconds of attention.  If the reader sees something in 11 seconds that they are looking for, they will stop and read the entire document. In our competitive industry your resume needs to be more than a chronological career recap.  Your resume needs to be a marketing piece that showcases you for the unique talent that you are.
The top third of the first page is the sweet spot.  Ditch the objective statement. Your killer achievements need to be there.  Merchant’s, if you doubled the women’s graphic tee business in one year through cleaning up the assortment…share the numbers. Technical Designers, if you reduced return rates by 30% by fixing the curve in the rise of 5 pocket denim…share the numbers. Designers, if you introduced a product that was a top seller and an entire assortment was built around it…that bullet should be in the top third of the first page.  It can be a section called “Career Highlights” or “Select Achievements” with 5 or 6 bullets. Use your performance reviews and your colleagues to quantify these contributions if you don’t have daily access to the financials. Don’t tell the whole story, just the win.  You want the reader to be dying to pick up the phone and find out how you achieved these feats.
Below the sweet spot lay out your chronological employment current job first and taking the most space. Key words are very important. Include product categories you have worked with.  If I am looking for a denim designer, or a plus size merchant I search with those words. Titles are tricky.  In our industry Buyer, Merchant, Product Line Manager, Brand Manager can all be used for one skill set.  Know what your target audience calls you and make sure it is on your resume or you will get missed in searches. More than once we have been paid an agency fee by employers who had our candidate’s resume in their database but missed it. The dreaded “black hole” of internet resume submission. If you are applying directly make sure you customize your resume using the titles, key words and jargon that are in the employer’s job posting and increase your odds of getting pulled from the pool of applicants. I will write more in depth about customizing your resume in my next post.
What are your greatest career achievements? How can you write each of them in one or two lines of bullet text?  P.S. The best time to work on your resume is when you are happy in your job and having a banner year.  After performance reviews is a good time to update it annually. Then should an amazing opportunity present itself, you are prepared. Let us know what else you would like to hear on the topic of resumes.


  1. Very insightful! Great tip to update the resume right after performance reviews. Looking forward to the future post about customizing resumes.

  2. I am glad the information was helpful Shilpa. The follow up post about customizing your resume for a specific role is coming June 3rd.