That resume is tough when you’re first starting out. Entire books have been written about that piece of paper that you’re supposed to provide. And you can’t possibly follow it all, as there simply isn’t enough space on that one page to get it all in there, but if you don’t follow it then your resume might just end up getting trashed. So what should you do?
1. Don’t do it alone
The first thing to realize is that you don’t have to do it alone. When writing up a resume, get other people involved. Throw your document into Google Docs and get people involved, especially those with HR experience. Now note that I’m not suggesting that you give your document to a bunch of people to get them to comment on it. I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. This is different. This is creating a collaborative effort, where one person’s suggestions might spark something with somebody else and thereby get the ball rolling and really improve what you’ve got.
2. Find out what impression you make
Don’t just ask about spelling mistakes, missing punctuation and that kind of thing, either. Ask about the impression that your text gives. Often we don’t know how we sound until somebody tells us. So find out. That way you won’t send out anything that sounds desperate, arrogant or needy – three surefire qualities to not get invited to the interview.
3. If you have a professional photo that makes you look good, use it
Yes, you’ve heard the advice about not using a photo because it causes trouble, but in truth the jury is still out on that one. What’s more, we’re visual creatures and influenced easily by subconscious cues (far more than we realize). For that reason, if you’ve got a good photo, use it! People might say it didn’t affect them, but it does. I mean, if it didn’t, why would advertisers still spend so much money to show their products with attractive models? And in this case the picture is actually relevant as it’s actually the person they’re looking at hiring!
4. It’s an advert not a biography
So don’t put everything you’ve ever done on there or every project you did at a company. Instead, select those things that you believe best illustrate your capacities and capabilities. That is, after all, what the recruiter is after.
Now don’t lie. Don’t claim skills that you do not have and do not claim experiences that you do not have. On the other hand, don’t tell them about your warts, either. Just like we wear nice clothes when we leave the house, so your resume should present you in the best light.
5. If you won’t read it on the internet, they won’t read it on your resume
How quickly do you click away a poorly laid out web page that’s hard to read and hard to access? Resumes are the same. You have to remember that recruiters are looking at hundreds of resumes a day. If they come across one where there is big blocks of dense text, there is a good chance they will not even read it.
So have small blocks of text and realize that, just like on the internet, the first thing people will look at is the headlines. So make these punchy, short and contain most of the important information about you. So ‘sales manager: sales record 2 years running’ is good ‘sales manager who managed a team of people who all looked up to me in the end because I was like a father to them and because I brought them cheese’ is bad.
Your resume is a business card, an advertisement, a marketing campaign and lastly a bit of information about you. Approach it as such. Make certain that you present yourself in the best (truthful) light. Because that’s what everybody else is trying to do and they’re your competition.
And yes, it’s a lot of work, but realize that once you’ve got a well-crafted resume that works, all you’ll have to do it in the years to come is tweak it to get you in the door. And yes, no matter how good your resume is, you’ll always have to continue to deal with the stupid questions people ask in the interview, but that’s another story.