Some Useful Tips for Your Resume
It’s a well-researched (albeit disheartening) fact that hiring authorities spend an average of 6 seconds viewing a resume before deciding whether or not to move forward with a candidate. Considering that you’re likely to spend at least 600 times longer creating your resume than they spend scanning it, you should make it as effective as possible.
- Companies – List each employer you’ve worked at and include the company’s location as well as a brief description of its service or product offerings and size.
- Positions – List your titles with dates of employment & detail the responsibilities and specific accomplishments you received during your tenure there.
- Contact information – Always include your phone number, email address and home address.
- Education – List any formal and relevant education you’ve received.
While we see an occasional disaster, most professionals know to write their resume in reverse chronological order, including company names, titles and responsibilities. There is however, a laundry list of mistakes candidates make unintentionally that can hinder their chances at getting past those first 6 seconds.
Common Resume Mistakes
- Writing the resume for yourself – Think about the very reason a company has a job opening…they have a problem they need someone to solve. They’re behind the times in social media and their marketing efforts are falling on deaf ears, they’re growing faster than their salespeople can sell (an excellent problem to have!) or they need to create a new product to better compete in a changing marketplace; you get the idea. If you focus on writing a resume that speaks to how your skills and experience will help solve their problem, you’re speaking their language.
- Leaving out the numbers – If an employer is comparing two resumes side by side and each candidate has identical experience, education, and formatting but one resume includes accomplishments or results, guess which one is going to get the phone call? It’s a simple difference between “Increased sales in my region” and “Increased sales by 45% in my region in 2009”. You increased sales? By 45%? During the height of the recession? That candidate is worth talking to. In sales? Where you in the top 10% of sales in your company? Did you negotiate and close a huge deal? And there are plenty of accomplishments to highlight outside of sales- be creative. In operations? By how much did you increase efficiency or reduce spending, etc.? In lighting design? Did you win an award for a building you designed, complete a project ahead of schedule or under budget, etc.? An engineer? Did you complete your project ahead of schedule or under budget, did you win a patent, did your product outsell the forecast in its first year, etc.?
- Being afraid to brag – Any opportunity to designate how you set yourself apart from your colleagues is beneficial. If you were chosen to work on big-name projects or accounts, include that information. If you were promoted quickly-say so. If a hiring authority has decided to hire someone with “5 years of experience,” you need to demonstrate what you did with those 5 years that sets you apart from the pack.
- Including a photo – Unless you’re an actor, model or are significantly more attractive than you are successful, don’t include a photo in your resume. Its the 21st century, your picture is available everywhere from Facebook to LinkedIn, keep your resume a professional document of your experience, skills and accomplishments. And while we’re on the topic of social media, most employers will Google your name upon receiving your resume, you want to be sure that your online presence is professional and mirrors your resume.
- Sizzle; but no steak – Again, unless your profession requires extensive creativity (and you’re unable to provide a portfolio), keep things simple. We get plenty of resumes with odd formatting, text boxes, specialty fonts, etc. that all end up being too difficult to read when opened in whatever version of word we have available. Your best bet is to choose a simple resume template without tables or headers/footers and using standard fonts like Times New Roman, Ariel or Calibri. Spend your time focusing on accomplishments and detailing your experience.
- Including hobbies and interests that don’t involve your profession – If you’re on the board of a charity, that’s one thing, but letting a prospective employer in on your marble-collecting hobby or enthusiasm for online poker is overkill.
- Glossing over the truth – The purpose of a resume is to get you in the door for an interview- but fudging the details doesn’t do anyone any good. If you don’t have a degree don’t say that you did. If you attended college but didn’t graduate, list the years you attended.It seems easy to minimize parts of your career history that you’d like to forget by omitting them from your resume. But like every good after-school special has taught us-omission is akin to lying. If you have a gap in your resume, include a sentence to explain why. Failing to include the years you worked each job, or leaving off old jobs entirely makes it look like you have something to hide. In the end, the truth will come out and you could miss out on an opportunity you’d otherwise have gotten. Starting a relationship on a lie makes it difficult to build upon.