I’m reading Show Your Work: Ten Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon. The book is short, the tips are common sense — but sometimes we can overlook things that are right in front of us. I’d recommend it for others.
Kleon mentions the importance of teaching others what you know and not hording your knowledge (a great reminder for bloggers, like me, who need a reminder). I got a request from a former co-worker to look over a resume. I’ve read tons of career blogs both for my own job searches and because my secret second career is to run a career service center at a college or university (*waves at any HR people, I’m available).
Those two things birthed today’s post. There are some do’s and do nots that will make your resume better. Pull yours out and see if any apply:
Include an objective. It takes up valuable real estate on your resume and serves no purpose. Your objective is to get a job. And if you’ve applied for a specific job, the HR person already knows what your goal is. Additionally, an objective statement can box you in. There may be something else a hiring manager thinks you’re a perfect fit for. You never know what will come your way. Lose the objective.
Add a summary statement. A recent blog at Careerealism describes these as “a one-line encapsulation of your career ROI or a key achievement. Written with lean keyword-infused language a power statement showcases the impact your candidacy has had on your current or past employers or highlights critical attributes of your career brand.” In simpler terms, this is who you are and what you’ve done — with a some of your industry keywords thrown in for good measure (Useful when applying to large companies that use computers to screen candidates. More on that later.).
Talk only about what you did when you mention your experience. I’ve seen a handful of resumes that simply mention what a person does when they come to work everyday. There are literally hundreds of people applying for each position (A job I saw on LinkedIn had nearly 150 applicants — and that was just from the listing on LinkedIn, no telling how many others found the job elsewhere.) Your experience has to sparkle. Which leads me to…
Talk about your accomplishments. There may be no way to get around mentioning your job duties on at least one or two bullet points, but your experience section is the time for you to show off your achievements in a quantifiable way. Did you save your company money? Reorganize a department? Do something innovative? Your accomplishments set you apart from the rest of the pack — because they’re unique to you. Penelope Trunk recommends that your resume ONLY include achievements, but also hits it out of the park when citing how to quantify results and what those results say about you:
Most people do not think in terms of quantified achievements when they are in the job, but on the resume, that’s the only part of the job that matters. No one can see that you were a “good team player” on your resume unless you can say “established a team to solve problem x and increased sales x%” or “joined under-performing team and helped that team beat production delivery dates by three weeks.”
Say “references available upon request” or anything synonymous with it. It’s assumed that you’ll provide references when/if asked.
Pay attention to what’s “above the fold.” In newspaper speak this is:
the upper half of the front page of a newspaper where an important news story or photograph is often located. Papers are often displayed to customers folded so that only the top half of the front page is visible. Thus, an item that is “above the fold” may be one that the editors feel will entice people to buy the paper. Alternatively, it reflects a decision, on the part of the editors, that the article is one of the day’s most important. By extension, the space above the fold is also preferred by advertisers, since it is the most prominent and visible even when the newspaper is on stands.
Fold your resume in half. Does the information in the top half make you want to read further — or better yet, will it make a hiring manager want to call you for an interview?
Forget about the keywords. When applying for a job, there’s nothing wrong with mirroring (but not copying) the keywords. No hiring manager is a mind reader. If the job calls for X, Y and Z and you’ve done X, Y and Z, statements about you doing X, Y and Z should be on your resume — in plain English.