If there is no U in your resume, then it isn’t fit for purpose.
Since computers were invented, the advice regarding resume/CV writing has been keep it simple, on two or three sides of A4 on plain paper and no fancy fonts. However, there are an increasing number of digital formats emerging which allow you to present yourself in new and interesting ways so times may be slowly changing.
Infographics, digital presentations (Slideshare, Prezi), personal websites and videos can all help you demonstrate your skills and experience in a more visually stimulating manner which may, in turn, help you stand out from the crowd when applying for a position. But whatever the format you choose, whether it a simple piece of paper or a full scale video shoot, the most important factor is you.
If a recruiter or employer doesn’t get a feel for you as a person whilst reviewing your application, then it isnt worth the paper or online platform it is written on.
Where’s the evidence?
One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing a resume is not providing any evidence. They make general statements such as Im an effective communicator, or I increased sales by 25%, but anyone can state these things, the most important thing is the proof. A recruiter or a potential employer want to know how you personally achieved or demonstrated what you are claiming.
How have you exhibited effective communication skills in previous roles? What strategies did you put in place to allow you to improve sales by a quarter?Was the sales increase across the board, or is this something only you achieved within the sales team?
Simply cramming your resume with keywords that appear in the advert or job description isnt going to impress anyone. If you cant back up your statements with hard facts, your case for been a suitable candidate will be withdrawn due to lack of evidence.
The question of whether or not you should put a photograph on your resume is up there with which came first the chicken or the egg? I know some recruitment consultants who get a shiver down their spine when they see someones mug shot peering back at them from the page, but with images prevalent within online profiles, emails and websites, the continuing increase of profile pictures on CVs is inevitable. Recruiters increasingly want to see who they are dealing with and if a picture isn’t provided, they will go online and take a look at you anyway.
If you are going to add a photograph to a CV, then the same rules apply as with LinkedIn. Make sure it is a straight forward, colour headshot. Soft focus arty shots, action shots or a picture of your favourite pet are unlikely to gain you any favours with a potential employee. And make sure your picture is the same across all your platforms (i.e. CV, website, email, Twitter, LinkedIn etc), as image consistency will help to strengthen your personal brand.
In todays competitive 24 hour, 7 days a week environment, in some circles it may be seen as a negative to actually admit to having any spare time, but for companies who care about their employees a certain amount of downtime is acceptable. But again, there is always the question of should you include your outside interests on your CV? This question becomes more pertinent the more senior and experienced you get as it seems increasingly less relevant in the grand scheme of things and there is less need to include your interests and hobbies to simply bulk up your resume/CV.
However, there is also an increasing importance towards company culture. Skills and experience are not the only factors that are taken into consideration when applying for a role. It is important to demonstrate your personality, as employers are more likely to take on like-minded people and interests and hobbies play apart in this.
But there is a balance. If your resume consists of a paragraph or two of your relevant information and then 2 pages of your achievements as a singer in a local rock band, it is going to be obvious where your passion lies.
Which platform? If you are considering using a more modern way of presenting yourself such as video or Slideshare then take into account the type of company you are applying to. If it is within the creative industry, then they will probably appreciate a more imaginative approach, whereas an accountancy firm is likely to be more traditional. A company website should give you some indication of whether a company is more conventional or embrace modern digital media. If you are unsure then provide both a standard CV and the new format. This will give the recruiter/employer the option of reviewing your skills and experience in the format they feel most comfortable with.
Pick up the phone. One thing that is even more effective than trying to display your personality through your resume or CV, is by demonstrating it in real life. By ringing the recruiter or employer and speaking to them directly, it will not only give you the opportunity to show the real you, but it will also make you more memorable in the process than a video or a bit of paper and allows you to demonstrate that you have initiative. Once its time to short-list for interview your name will already stick out, which will increase your chances significantly of going through.
Author: Gary Skipper is the Marketing Manager for Newman Stewart.