The competition is stiff. Hiring managers and recruiters can receive hundreds of resumes for a handful of positions. A human scanning through a stack of resumes looks for college degrees, certifications, job titles, typos – trying to winnow out good applicants in a minimal amount of time. Seven seconds. Or, your resume may go through an ATS (applicant tracking system) designed to look only for keywords.
What can you put in your resume to make that reader pause? Because it’s the momentary pause that will give you the edge over the other applicants.
Targeted proof that you can deliver
Your resume needs to provide evidence that you can deliver results. Not just any results. The reader wants to know if you can solve the employer’s problems. That means your resume needs to be targeted to the position you’re applying for.
The reader is looking for a brief summary of the problem, the players, the issues, and the solution. How brief? Can you do it in one sentence? Yes, you can. Really.
Crafting the master resume
What stories did you tell about your job during happy hour at the last conference you attended? What stories did you hear? It’s a sure bet those stories contained the elements you need for your resume right now.
- Every employer has problems that need solving and projects that need completing. What problems were you hired to solve? What projects did you work on?
- For each problem or project:
- Note why it was problem.
- Who did the problem affect? Who were the players?
- What solutions did you try?
- What was the winning solution?
- Now, summarize those points in one sentence.
That one sentence summary is a bullet point on your resume.
Why would you go through an exercise like this? Because when that winning resume lands you the interview, you want to be able to tell the story behind whatever bullet point grabs the interviewer’s attention.What is not included in these bullet points is your job description. None of these bullet points begins with “Responsible for” or “Tasked with”. The focus of your story is your accomplishments.
“Migrated to a virtualized infrastructure, reducing the number of servers by 90%, saving 25% of the IT budget and reducing energy costs.”
Now that’s a story.
Polishing Your Resume
Unless you are in a graphic field where visual effects are important, your resume must be clean and easily scanned by both humans and computers. Use a font that’s available on all computers, such as Arial, Verdana or Georgia, and a font-size of 11 or 12. White space is a good thing.
- Header: At the top of the resume, put your name, email address and phone number. Include your LinkedIn profile, and website (link to these). If you have certifications, include their initials after your name.
- Summary. This can be about a third of the page, and should include a few lines about who you are, and the skills that you bring to the table. For an IT resume, list the key skills you have that pertain to the job you’re applying for. Refer to the job ad to make sure you’ve included the skills the employer is asking for. Use the same language – these become the keywords that the ATS will pick up. Don’t list skills that are ubiquitous, such as MS Word, or soft skills like “team-oriented.”
- Employment History. Focus on the jobs that are most aligned with the position you’re applying for. Don’t leave gaps in your history; just put more emphasis on the key areas.
- Company Name, Location
- Job Title
- Beginning and ending dates (month and year)
- Your bullet points
- Education. Start with your most recent degree, and include the institution, location, and your degree. No need to include high school, or your GPA (unless you are entry level, and the GPA is superlative). Include your certifications.
But What About … ?
Don’t be concerned with length, references, or the kitchen sink.
- Length. A mid-level or advanced professional’s resume will run more than one page, and that’s fine. Entry-level job seekers’ resumes should be one page.
- References. Don’t mention them on your resume.
- Kitchen Sink. Keep your resume targeted to the position you’re apply to. Yes, it bears repeating. Don’t include irrelevant information. Stay targeted.
Corporate Media Specialist, DPP
- 19 Reasons Why This Is An Excellent Resume (businessinsider.com)
- Tips for Creating an Effective Resume (ibruk.wordpress.com)
- Quantify Your Qualities: Collaboration & Communication (dppit.com)
- The Secret to a Successful Interview: Great Storytelling (usnews.com)