Have you ever wondered why you didn’t get a call back after submitting your resume for your perfect job? Sending out more job applications to more companies doesn’t always equate to more call backs and interviews. The chances are your resume was a fast track into the trashcan because you weren’t following these simple rules for effective resumes.
1) Keep it short and easy to read:
For most individuals a 2 page resume has enough space. Senior professionals may run to a third page but a recruiter is looking for easy to read information. A nice simple typeface, clear use of bullets, paragraphs, punctuation and only bold and italics where necessary. If you have space a few horizontal lines to break up areas of content can be helpful. Don’t waste space including references or even state reference available on request – a recruiter will ask for reference at the appropriate time and that could be several lines of unnecessary content.
2) Experience and successes are the foundation content:
All good resumes should have details of work experience listed – start with the latest or current job and work backward. State when you worked there, the job title and no more than one line of job description followed by three to five bulleted key achievements. For example:
April 2006 – May 2012, Area Sales Manager, ACME Products Inc. – leading a team of 24 sales representatives across 7 states in the North West.
- Increased area sales from $240,000 in 2006 to $2.1million in 2012
- Improved customer satisfaction levels from 85% in 2006 to 97% in 2012
- Developed 8 new recruits to meet all sales targets with 6 months of hire
- Managed pilot of new household product lines in 2010, providing customer feedback and product knowledge to HQ development team
3) Make qualifications and education count:
Include academic achievement in the form of degrees. Also a professional credential such as Project Management Professional (PMP) should be included. Other relevant college courses and job specific courses but nothing that has no purpose for this job application. As a rule of thumb, state academic achievement, followed by professional credentials and then additional relevant certifications and courses. For each state when, where and what it is and any relevant grades or levels of pass. Additionally, it is best to only add completed education programs to your resume and avoid simply adding the name of the school attended followed by “some college/courses complete.” Even if it is only a two year degree, as long as you finished what you started it shows you have merit and determination to see things through. Another aspect to consider is continued interest learning. There are a lot of free MOOC college courses online that offer letters of completion. If the course is relevant to your job it may be beneficial to list that as an accomplishment as well.
4) Include professional volunteer achievements:
If you have given your time for free to a cause or professional organization DO include it. Your time leading volunteers or providing a free consulting service can shine out on your resume as well as showing a bit of humanity and humility for a potential employer to know they are hiring a person not a robot.
5) Keep it honest:
It’s easy to fall into the trap of embellishing resume content. It won’t work. A good recruiter will spot an untruth very easily – no matter how well you think it’s concealed. Saying you are an excellent customer service agent is great, but don’t say you were the best in your company for 5 years straight – unless there’s evidence to prove it. In the age of the internet so many things are easy to verify.
6) Keep it flexible:
Make sure your resume can be updated easily. Each job you apply for should have its own unique resume – it may be 99% the standard content but have a unique objective or personal statement that talks directly to the company or role. Often a personal statement or objective isn’t needed when a good cover letter will meet this need. This component is critical to getting your resume in the door. Technology makes it very easy to send your resume out to dozens of companies all with the click of the button, but you still need to address your audience directly and grab their attention.
Hiring managers and recruiters spend 10 seconds or less scanning your resume for the relevant information they are searching for. To win their further attention a good resume should easy to read and relevant to the job description. Much of what is covered here to some may be simple common sense but to career seekers overlooking a few of these key points it can be detrimental to finding your next job. It may be helpful to have a family member, colleague, or the recruiter you may be working with to read your resume and offer some feedback. Now review your current standard resume and check how much of these techniques you are using and if not make the changes before you apply for your next job – successfully of course!
Author: Bob Bozorgi is the COO of Executive Trackers, LLC, a sales, marketing, and executive search firm based out of the San Francisco Bay Area.