This is a critical but the most misunderstood element of the job search process. Everyone and their uncle (and me) is ready to give you advice about a proper resume, including established myths about what works and does not.
First, the most important question is ďWhat is the resume supposed to achieve?Ē The answer is that the reader of your resume should want to pick up the phone right there and then and call you. The minute that the resume does not elicit that reaction and gets put aside, your chances of having it acted upon have gone down by 90%
So, how is this achieved? Obviously, you have to have the right skills and experience for the position, or fairly close to it.
I am often asked what the most important elements in a resume are. The answer is: Readability
People are busy, they donít read, and they scan. If your resume is not easily read, it serves you poorly. If itís not well laid out, with an easy to read structure, flow and text, you donít stand out and the reader does not get a quick grasp of what you are about.
This is important, read this carefully. A resume not only shows what you have done, but how you do it, and what your attitude is about your work. If you are not willing to work to present the most important thing in your life, YOU, in the best possible manner via your presentation, i.e. your resume, the employer will rightly wonder how keen you will be in representing them . I cannot emphasize this enough.
Structure and Flow
I am sure that any of you that have been interviewed noticed the interviewer flipping back and forth in the resume. The reason for this is that there isnít a solid structure and flow to the resume and they canít get a grip on it to read it properly. Key points of interest do not stand out. You want to design the resume so that the reader will flow through it the way you want them to, and not haphazardly.
You want key points to stand out,
All this can be achieved without having to resort to gimmicks or fancy graphics design. A properly structured, easy to read resume, where relevant skills and experience stand out, negates the myth of keeping a resume to no more than 2 pages. Think of a PowerPoint presentation that you may have seen that stood out, was easy to read and the information there was viewable and understood at a glance.
A well done summary is highly desirable at the top of your resume. There is a reason many presentations have an Executive Summary. This will give the reader a grasp of your skills and experience and encourage them to peruse the resume in detail. Let it flow from the personal into the technical. Keep it short and in bullet form.
Remember that the initial viewing of your resume will be on a computer monitor, so having this summary at the top is very useful.
Applicant Tracking Systems
You can be assured that most mid to large companies use some form of Applicant Tracking Software which extracts the resume from an email or a web form, copies it into a database and is searched on keywords (among other parameters such as location) Make sure that the keywords relevant to your desired position are well represented in your resume, and not just in a summary sheet somewhere at the beginning or end of the resume.
Spelling and Grammar
A resume with spelling mistakes almost always catches my eye, and the candidate loses points. Do not rely on Spell-Check. Have someone who reads a lot review your resume. This is to not only catch spelling mistakes but also grammatical errors.
In the age of the Internet, these have less value. However, I consider them useful as a way to highlight your fit for the specific job applied for. Keep it short, and highlight your relevant skills and experience for that particular role in well spaced bullet form, with no more than 5 items. If I see a resume I like, I will often then go back to the cover letter to see how they personalized it to the position applied for.
Next post: Human Resources and Interviews
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