Monday, September 15, 2014

What goes on a resume?

A lot of clients are unsure of their resume. I often hear “Should it be one page? How do I know if this is strong? Will this stand out enough to make it through the black hole of online resume submission? How will a recruiter interpret my resume?”

So, how can you know if your resume is what an employer is looking for? The quick answer: you don’t. The good news: there are a few things you can do to cover the basics. Below is a checklist for some common questions and mistakes:

  • Number of pages- it is best to stick with one page, but ok to overflow on a second if necessary. I argue that few resumes need two pages. When I first challenged myself with this task on my own resume, I was in the workforce for about 10 years. I thought- there is no way I can get my education, accomplishments, and experience down to one page. After a painful week, I did it. I edited to the important points. I realized it wasn’t important to list all of the tasks I was responsible for 10 years ago in an assistant level job.

  • Less is more- it is estimated that the average recruiter looks at your resume for 6 seconds. The more words you use, the less you emphasize your key accomplishments.

  • Fancy fonts and fancy formatting- avoid it. It will help your resume stand out, but not in a good way. Often the intent is good but the outcome is bad. Fancy resumes are harder to read and are more prone to jumbled formatting.

  • Be honest- do not lie on your resume. Don’t “stretch the truth”. Eventually you will get caught. There’s a very good chance a job offer will be rescinded or you will be fired once your lie is discovered. Lies do not help you.

  • Power words- use them as lead words for your accomplishments. Words like: “lead, drive, initiate” are power words. Words such as: “responsible for, received, maintained” are passive. Using those words makes it sound like you are checking a box rather than an engaged employee.

  • Accomplishments not responsibilities- for the most part, your job title conveys your responsibilities. Tell the prospective employer what you are proud of. What did you do to make a difference at this company?

  • Use numbers- if you say you grew a business, give a percentage. I hear from clients who are designers that their jobs don’t have numbers, so they can’t add to their resume. That is not true. Designers have an impact on cost, revenue and liabilities. If you are a designer and struggling, find a sales or merchant partner to help you get at some relevant numbers.

  • Personality- what is your passion and how does it connect with the company for which you are applying? For example, if you have a fashion blog and are applying at a high fashion house, maybe add “fashion blogger” to your interests. If you are an avid yogi and are applying to a fitness company, think about adding “avid yogi” to your interests.

  • Proof read- hit spell check. Have a friend or someone you trust read your resume. I once had a client tell me she had a great resume. When I read through, I found the word “ass” on her resume. Clearly a typo, but why would an employer want to hire someone who can’t even get this one very important piece of paper right?

Hopefully this quick checklist will help you polish your resume. Having a great resume is the first step to getting you in the door!

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