When I first became a manager, I was asked to hire an additional junior person to work for me. I created the job requisition, contacted a few recruiters and we placed an ad in the New York Times (yes, some companies still place “wanted” ads). Within a few days, resumes started to arrive and by the end of the first week we had well over 100 resumes. I started reading each resume (every single word), but by the time I got to resume number 25, I started to realize that it was going to take a really long time to get through 100 resumes. So I started to eliminate resumes based on how they looked. If they were poorly formatted, too short or really ugly (one was actually a hand written resume) they went right to the trash pile. I continued to “hone” my selection process, eliminating any resume with spelling errors, grammatical errors or resumes that were not an exact fit. By the end of the process, I had 15 or so of the best looking resumes. Was it possible that I missed the most qualified person because I eliminated their ugly resume? Absolutely. That’s why presentation, format and content are all equally important.
You’ve probably heard hundreds of times that your resume is the most important document in your job search (because it is). But if you want to stand out from the competition, you need more than a great looking resume. In the end, only qualified candidates will get called for an interview.
There are five lessons in the Resume Series:
Gathering Your Information – As with all successful endeavors, thoughtful planning will make for a great resume. Take the time to collect all of the content for your resume before you start writing. This includes:
- A Summary of Your Skills and Objective – Make a list of all of your skills. This includes computer skills you have and other skill that are relative to your industry (like Accounting Pronouncements, medical procedures, etc.). Your skills list should include both your hard skills (skills you can teach) and your soft skills (interpersonal skills). List as many skills as you can think of, the list can be adjusted as/if needed when you build your resume. Where you put your skills section on your resume depends much on the format (covered in Lesson 2).
- Education – You should gather the key facts about your education (especially if you have an advanced degree). You should list the name of the university/college, degree program, years attended and any honors (such as Dean’s List). Other key fact may be appropriate, like GPA, clubs and extracurricular activities, special courses, awards and any other important fact that will help your resume stand out. If you’ve not yet finished your degree, you should still put it on your resume and list how many credits have been completed to date and expected date of graduation.
- Work history – Your work history is the “meat” of your resume (if you are a new college grad or about to graduate, this is covered in Lesson 2). You will need the company name, position(s) held and dates you worked at each job. You will also want to make a list of achievements and specific responsibilities. There are lots of different formats you can use for your work history. For now, make your list and we will revisit that in more depth in Lesson 2.
- Achievements – This is mentioned up above in the Work History section but the topic deserves some special focus. Hiring managers will not only want to know that you’ve got the experience for the job, they will also want to know that you can “get it done”. Nothing shows this better than listing your achievements. Add facts like “automated X process and saved the company $100,000” to the extent possible.
- Extracurricular Activities and Hobbies – Employers want to know what you do in your spare time. This topic spans both, what you did during your college years as well as other activities you are involved with. This includes charity work/organizations, clubs (only appropriate clubs), additional languages you may speak, sports, etc. Take a look at the links below to get a better idea on this.
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Good luck in your search,