May 27, 2016
Let’s face it, nobody likes writing resumes, and unless you are in the world of recruitment, you probably don’t like reading them either. However, the truth is resumes are a necessary evil and fall into the category of other necessary, but undesirable tasks of life, such as taxes, insurance, or even the dreaded dentist. Regardless of if you’re gainfully employed in your dream job, or on the job hunt, here are a few key trends and critical points that are worth considering when refreshing one of the most important tools in your career.
- Know your audience: Are you a creative marketing executive, or are you applying for a technical finance position? Depending on your answer, your audience will likely be significantly different. Identify your audience and keep that in the back of your mind as you’re writing your resume. The importance of this is outlined in the next few points.
- Format wisely: Arguably one of the most important aspects of a resume, formatting is what really stands out first to your reader. The key with formatting is that while you want to differentiate yourself, you don’t want to be an outlier. Follow a reverse chronological order, bolding position titles and/or company names, and use bullet points to ensure a clean and organized look. You’ve already identified who your audience is, so consider that when using colours or non-typical fonts. For example, if you are a creative marketing executive, you probably want to highlight your creative side so using colours might not be a bad idea, but if you’re in a more analytical or technical role, you probably want to stick closer to the norm.
- Always include an executive summary: An executive summary is the perfect way to quickly pitch who you are and what you can bring to the table. Focus on things such as your level, notable technical skills, relevant keywords, and industry expertise. More often than not, this can make or break your chance of ending up in the “yes” pile.
- Consider adding a company outline: If you think your audience will have to look up the organization because it’s small or unknown, you should include one or two sentences that explain what they do, their size (revenue or employee count), and other relevant points (top employer, publically traded, etc.).
- Don’t forget dates: This may seem obvious, but surprisingly a lot of people decide to leave dates off their resume. Wrong move. Your resume tells a story and dates play a critical role in guiding your audience through the course of your career. Gaps between jobs are fine, but be prepared to explain them.
- List both responsibilities and achievements: The content of your resume needs to be carefully composed and laid out in a strategic manner. Don’t copy and paste the original job description onto your resume. Instead, take a few key responsibilities and couple them with your major accomplishments. This tells the reader what you were hired to do and what you accomplished along the way. To really underscore your value, use metrics. What was your team size? If you had revenue accountability, what was it? By using numbers, dollar signs, and percentages, you bring validity to your accomplishments.
- Refer to relevant education: If you have a nationally or internationally recognized designation such as a CA, CFA, MBA, or CHRP, consider putting it right after your name. Also, include all post-graduate degrees, but don’t include your high school diploma unless you are applying for your first job out of school; it is unnecessary and takes up valuable space.
- Incorporate applicable professional development and skills: There are countless professional development programs and courses out there. Include any that are relevant to your current position or the position you are applying for, but don’t include them just for the sake of it. Using professional development is a great way to round out your profile by showing the reader that you are constantly growing and taking on new challenges.
- Limit personal details: It is highly recommended that you don’t include a picture. If you have a LinkedIn profile (which you should), then upload a professional photo there, but leave it off your resume. Also, other personal details such as marital status or number of children should not be included when applying for most positions in North America. If you are applying for an international role, including citizenship may be important, but make sure you do your research. Include languages if you speak more than one, but don’t put “Fluent in English” if all you speak is English.
- Keep it fresh: Make a point of refreshing your resume a few times per year, even if you’re not actively job hunting. It allows you to keep your accomplishments top of mind, as they might otherwise be forgotten if you leave it for too long. Furthermore, in addition to having a high quality resume on hand, updating it pushes you to reflect on the success you’ve had to date, potential areas for improvement, and where you envision your career going in the near future.
Tags: advice community consulting contractor conversation creativity CSR development diversity economic downtown executive search high performers high performing organizations HR ideas interview interviewing job hunting leaders leadership learning merger news oil and gas optimum talent reading recruitment reflecting search skills stakeholder strangers talent team effectiveness training