People frequently ask me to review their resumes. Who could blame them, I’ve been writing resumes since 1999, so certainly, I can give a few pointers. In my experience, I have found it is usually more work to try to edit a document than creating a new one. When I create a great resume, I follow a strategic path.
Top 5 Must Haves For Resumes:
- Use a template
- Select a specific focus
- Include measures
- White space is a must
- Choose a style such as functional or chronological
- Be consistent in tense and punctuation
Oops, that’s six, but I could go on and on and that is what will happen if I try to edit an existing resume; the work will never end.
It always amazes me how many people are still typing their resume into a free form document with no template, or are using the wrong template that restricts them from organizing their information properly. For example, any spacing change on a resume that is not contained in a table format can misalign the entire document. Try to think of your resume as a living document that you can and should update regularly. Using a template promotes quick and frequent updating, which I recommend you do at least twice a year!
A resume should be written around a thesis statement that serves as a central theme expressed at the very top as an objective. I know many people are using a more generic profile at the top of resumes, but that only makes it more difficult for the reader to place you in the organization. Once you state the focal point of the document, all the information it contains should prove that out. This helps you to build a business case about how you would add value to the organization. Showing the employer what you do best gives them the greatest chance of determining where you would fit best, even if the opening they have is not the exact objective listed on your resume.
A resume without measures is a very slow read and in today’s face paced world, the reader will just move on to the next candidate. Take your time to uncover what is unique and special about your accomplishments and share the outcome using turn-around time, dollar amount, a percentage improvement, ranking, satisfaction ratings and other interesting details. Your resume should be factual and compelling. Avoid using generic statements that could be lifted and used by another person.
If you believe your appearance is important when you meet a business contact, imagine your resume as the critical “first impression” which determines whether you will get to meet a potential employer. At first glance, the flow, format and spacing of your resume will either engage or repel readers. With closer inspection, the consistency of bullets, grammar and punctuation speaks volumes about your organizational skills, detail orientation and credibility. White space, style and punctuation can make or break the readability and interest of the document.
Have someone else read over your resume to give you honest feedback about the impact of your message. Many people think of a resume as a chronological document that simply recounts your job history. Actually, it is much more than that. A great resume is your marketing collateral that will get you the appointment for the interview. Anything you put in writing about your career is of the utmost importance so be sure to make it the best it can be. I hope this piece gets you started on that path and if you need help, please consider my services.