- Bullet points. The days of prose to give an overview of your job are gone the way of the dodo (and, if we don’t watch out, the tiger and the polar bear. But that’s for a whole other blog). Remember that whoever is looking over your resume has limited time to ooh and aah over it, and wants to see accomplishments, level of responsibility, and NUMBERS. My, do employers like their numbers…more of that later….
- Start with a punchy verb that’s action-focused. Grab the reviewer’s attention. Examples of action verbs that impress? Led, grew, increased (the good stuff), decreased (the bad stuff), updated, supervised, planned, organized, delivered.
- Let the world know your GPA if it’s good. Don’t be ashamed of it if it’s less than about 3.2/3.3/3.4, but probably best not to put on resume if it’s less than that. Any prizes? Dean’s List? Tell the world.
- Vary the layout so that it’s not totally cookie-cutter. However, if your work background is not in the creative arena, don’t be too outlandish. Multi-colored banners of achievements or skills down the side in cute boxes are super for advertising agencies, but tend to tick off financial services HR AND line managers. Fonts that are so exotic that people say, “What’s that one? I’ve never seen it before” will not impress a hedge fund’s portfolio manager. Remember, though, that you have upper case, lower case, italics, size, bold and underlining to ring the changes. Graphic designers of course can go nuts.
- Anyone who’s in business and wants to stay in business likes numbers. Such potential employers can see how the candidate minimized the waste, increased sales, reduced the time, reduced the vendor costs. So…if you can think of any achievement that involves numbers, write it down.
- Don’t have typos on your resume. Let me put this another way. DON’T HAVE TYPOS ON YOUR RESUME. Proof it more than once, give it to someone else so that an outside eye can spot the glaring errors you missed (you know what you meant, and that’s what you tend to see). Check the tenses for consistency. Current job has responsibilities in the present tense, past jobs are in the past tense — well, once in a blue moon I see them all in the present tense, but then they ALL have to be in the present tense; be consistent. Check with grammar as well as spell check. Sometimes spell check doesn’t pick up on your typos because you typed another actual word e.g. nest is a word, but you’re going to be relocated nest year, not next year? Really? Spell check didn’t notice but eagle-eyed HR Managers might and anal-retentive Margaret certainly did.
- Don’t tell fibs! You’ll never get to heaven but, worse, you’ll probably get found out. There may be exceptions to this rule but frankly I can’t think of any. It doesn’t matter whether you’re rather down the managerial totem pole or at the very top. There have been some high profile examples of senior managers having to resign because they lied on the resumes and their mothers are probably still too embarrassed to leave the house. Don’t do it.
- Don’t have lots of versions of your resume. It will lead to confusion and headaches e.g. you send out the wrong one with the different and irrelevant objective – not cool. Keep life simple. Exceptions are when you have two fairly separate sets of skills – you’re a plastic surgeon AND you own a fish-cutting business – but on the whole you only need one, maybe two, m-a-y-b-e 3, versions.
- One page or two is fine. Exceptions are e.g. academics and doctors, who need a c.v. formula. If you’re an academic or doctor reading this blog, and need help with your c.v., then I guess you can contact me for advice.
- Don’t put your reference list on the resume. Have them in a separate document. To be honest, I don’t know why it doesn’t look good with references at the end of a resume, but it just doesn’t
As ever, comments on the blog article are welcome. If there are any issues you would like addressed, do please write.