Blog entry by Alan Chapman
How to write a Resume/CV (And why bother…)- A Brief Guide
Reading resumes is not something anyone enjoys. It is a tedious necessary evil at best. It’s important that candidates understand this because it drives the logic behind how to write one.
I have been a headhunter for 30 years so as one can imagine I’ve seen a few resumes.
If someone is writing a resume then something is probably wrong.
Why would one consider working on a resume unless he is looking to change something about his current circumstance? Whatever that person is doing is either all done or it has become so awful that he would rather look for a job.
If looking for work was easy and/or enjoyable, my profession would not exist.
The latest revenue figures I saw suggested that annual revenue for the staffing Industry was close to $150 Billion. This figure does not suggest that looking for a job is either easy or fun.
Most people that I have spoken to or helped during job searches have very little understanding of the process of writing a resume and think about it the way they consider surgery or visiting their in-laws.
The people who have to hire, hate the process too. Why do mediocre, unpleasant and lazy people still have jobs? Because hiring new people is that painful a task
The task of reading resumes is almost as dreadful as writing them.
So wouldn’t it logically follow that creating a resume that was short and effective would be best for everyone?
Take everything people have tried to teach about resumes…writing them, formatting, type of paper, objective, summary, whitespace, font…EVERYTHING…and flush it down the intellectual toilet.
Most everything that has changed regarding resume preparation has to do with two things;
- Technological advancement
- Sociological evolution
It is more likely for someone to be “judged” professionally online before anyone sees a resume OR that a resume will prompt someone to dig deeper into a person’s online identity.
It’s easy then to see how this is a paradigm shift in the way people work as well as look for work.
Everyone needs to change the way they look at looking for work.
REWIRING THE RESUME MINDSET
I need to stay focused on resume prep as that is the purpose of this brief guide, but if there is a need to go deeper into any of the ideas now spinning around in anyone’s head (sorry), there’s much more to be found at my website.
Creating or recreating a resume starts to make more sense once one acknowledges that online identity and offline identity should be one in the same, People have goals and they have experiences. A good resume or LinkedIn profile summarizes a person’s experiences concisely with their goals in mind.
LinkedIn caters to the “professional” crowd and in my opinion is an essential online site to participate in, learn and treat with respect. As is the case with online sites, they will evolve and what is hot today may or may not be hot tomorrow. For now it’s a good site to pay attention to if one is looking for work.
Other sites become more relevant as one’s experiences define one’s identity…engineer, author, artist, entrepreneur…more focused peer groups where people focus their messages and their specific education on their target audience.
Professional identity and personal identity are often one in the same now or at least they borrow from one another far more than even a few years ago.
People shouldn’t be shy about infusing their personality in with their professional message, just so long as they don’t cross lines and use good judgment.
Moving forward we can treat and refer to resumes and online profiles as one in the same…a representation of who someone is, what they’ve done and what they want to do moving forward
It’s time to do the work now…
To keep it simple we’ll focus on someone’s profile and my basic instructions
What To Do
- Be Brief. If it’s more than two pages people lose interest and likely won’t even read on past page two.
- Be conscious of the messages that are sent. If a lot of space is needed to summarize who someone is, how efficient will that same person’s communication be when they have to write or speak as the reader’s employee?
- Be direct. Nebulous objectives and summaries are counterproductive. No one likes filler.
- Be accurate. Proofread and get 3 other opinions from trusted colleagues or friends. Objectivity comes from others (see below)
- Use Keywords. Employers use algorithms and keywords are the modern way for a candidate to get to step two in the hiring process (see below)
- Make use of verbs that highlight actions. “Created”, Produced” “Completed”…
What Not To Do
- Lie. They’ll find out
- Use fancy colors or fonts (unless you are in an artistic profession). They are distracting and people already hate reading resumes.
- Talk about irrelevant things from yore. That’s awesome but people should have moved on already.
- Send a resume to anyone who seems even remotely interested…Again, people hate reading these already so…don’t be a resume hustler. Focus your efforts toward vetted and qualified leads. A large number of online openings aren’t even open anyway…someone just forgot to refresh the page (seriously).
- Use too many keywords (see below)
The resume is going to be skimmed quickly by someone in 10 seconds or less so it needs to draw attention fast.
Most companies scan resumes now with software programs designed to detect certain keywords as a way of filtering them before a select few get passed along to a real person.
Potential candidates should check out the words the employer uses in his online job descriptions and ads. If an employer lists “Cloud Computing” as a required skill, be sure to include the phrase “Cloud Computing” in at least one section of the resume (provided it’s true:).
One shouldn’t stuff keywords in just to have them there. It’s never a good strategy to sacrifice readability and proper grammar to get in extra keywords.
Use verbs that describe specific responsibilities as actions. For instance, if a person is a software developer, they want to use verbs like “developed”, “delivered”, and “built”. They can do this by saying they “developed an application that…”, they “delivered a project that…” and they “built a database that…”. Essentially use active instead of passive language.
Proofread the resume again.
I can’t stress this enough!! People need to proofread their resume several times. They should have at least three other people they trust proofread it too. People should care as much about getting their job as they do about having their job.
When my eldest daughter was a recent college graduate she had to listen to me rant about resumes and interviewing techniques and the whole “how to get a job” thing (But guess what? She got a job right out of school in this economy and she’s a film major!). This next point was the most difficult for her to learn because it’s counterintuitive for most people to brag.
People need to sell themselves.
One can’t distinguish one’s self from the pack without doing this. What I focused my daughter on, for instance, was the fact that she got things done on time and under budget in a profession filled with creative people who were typically more artistic than goal oriented. She was the proverbial “best of both worlds”. It worked.
Every potential candidate needs to be more creative than the next one. This doesn’t mean use colored paper or fancy fonts, but give the resume some punch.
· Bullet lists
· Bold fonts
· Capital letters
· Mindful organization of information
Most candidates have about 10 seconds to impress with their resumes
People can’t be afraid to tailor their resume for specific jobs. Again use the company’s online job descriptions for this. If a job specifies that a potential employee needs 10 plus years experience, include the phrase “10 plus years of experience” in a prominent position on the resume.
Use the company’s website and LinkedIn company profile to research what’s important to the company. Most often these sites will have all the language and keywords needed.
If hard copies are sent in the mail, one needs to use high quality paper and hand written notes.
Finally, since they’ll be using multiple different resumes, they need to make sure to organize their folders and computer file extension names by position, company and/or date so they at least appear organized and can follow-up with minimal reorganization when dealing with recruiters and potential employers.