Thursday, May 22, 2008

How to: Prep the Resume

AHHH the big 'R' word. Tackling a resume freaks the hell out of people, and rightfully so. It's a daunting document that will make or break the chance for an interview in the traditional job search. With that being said, the traditional job search odds are not in your favor. What is in your favor is putting yourself out there, connecting with people, and forming lasting relationships that will help to carry you through your career, if not propel it.

Anyway, as a recruiter, I have some serious resume pet peeves:
  • Color
  • Orphaned pages
  • Lack of formatting consistency
  • Improper verb tense (If you're first job out of college was 3 years ago, you reported to your supervisor and implemented programs to reach the company's objectives. For the position you currently hold, you report your supervisor and you implement programs to reach the company's objectives.)
  • Misspelled words
  • Missing contact information
  • Unprofessional email addresses (You might have the exact skill set I'm looking for, but if I see, I will think twice about calling you.)
  • Multiple pages (I do, however, have a forgiveness factor here if your industry and skill set qualify you to submit a CV. Notice that does not include number of jobs you've had or how long you've been working.)

Let me add a few examples here to drive home what I'm getting at when we talk about resume etiquette. In the job description or in the profession, if it is understood that working knowledge of MS Word is required, and you demonstrate the following with your document:

  • Using more than 2 consectutive spaces rather than the tab key for formatting
  • Typing 'Page 1' and 'Page 2' at the bottom of the document rather than using the footer to automatically insert page numbers
  • Using the '-' instead of bulleting your skills in a job description of a current or past position
  • You don't save the document as a .doc file, leaving the manager or recruiter unable to open or read the document

Then you don't have working knowledge of MS Word and you are not qualified for the position.

What do I want to see when I look at a resume for the first time? Well, thanks for asking!

I'd like it to be easy on the eyes. Use a sans serif font, it's easier to read when you're sifting through 50 resumes in your Inbox each morning. I also appreciate clever formatting, bullets, and whitespace. When in doubt, basic is best. I like for a resume to help me understand how you can contribute to my organization, why your skill set if of value to the position you're applying for and what you have accomplished. Oh, and I would like to learn this about you in 10-20 seconds.

You're best bet to acheive this:

Objective: This is the part where you tell me the strengths you have to contribute to my company's mission. Bonus points for how you will achieve the client's mission who my company serves.

(Insert Appropriate Adjective) Skills:

  • Use bullets and columns here to make the best use of your white space and one page format
  • Make sure the skills are required for the position you're applying to
  • Don't lie, but give yourself credit and demonstrate your abilities appropriately
  • Use common phrases and industry jargon as appropriate, if you don't talk that way, don't write it on your resume that way

2003-Present My Favorite Company, Insert Current Position Title, Anytown, USA

  • Use time wisely to save company $5,000 annually
  • Collaborate with team members and client to implement new branding strategies
  • Successfully integrated the demanding clients needs into their under utilized system to save them 3 months of time and $10,000 quarterly, which was then dedicated to their other under performing product and enabled their team to boost profits

Those three sections told you a lot about a candidate. Clarify, quantify, format and keep it clean.

There, you're resume just got a lot easier to put back together.

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