GET A JOB: First step? Send a great resume.views: 0
It is hard to accept that you are a piece of paper in the hands of someone who can radically change your life for the better, but you can do everything in your power to ensure that you get that dream job. A great resume is the first and best step.
A great resume gets someone a job. A bad (yawn) resume loses someone a job opportunity. There are some pervasive misconceptions about writing resumes that tip the scales in either direction. Candidates are rejected within the first few seconds purely on the basis of their resume; I do it and employers do it. And it breaks my heart to know someone didn’t get their perfect job because the resume was not the very best it could be.
Don’t let this happen to you.
As an owner of a recruitment firm for the fashion industry, and a professional resume writer, in my 25 years of experience, I have seen millions of resumes and shape them into documents which I know employers notice and read — into resumes that get attention over other applicants. I’ve helped thousands of people get jobs and hires which tie directly back to great resumes.
Great resumes caused me to literally jump up take notice and want to urgently present the candidate to employers. That motivation comes largely from the fact that the writer went to great lengths to respect me as a reader and ensure the content and format were clear, relevant and compelling. When I get a resume like that, it makes me want to help that person. And when I send that resume to my clients, I get interview requests.
Conversely, I have received resumes that ranged from not very well done to absurd. I receive resumes that are too long (14 pages were the longest) – too short (half a page is not a resume) – unattractive in format – laden with goofy type fonts – riddled with grammar, spelling and punctuation errors – full of poor word choices. The reader discards that resume, and the candidate, as suited as they may be, loses out on a job.
ELEMENTS OF A GREAT RESUME
The writer must understand that the reader is not responsible to comb for information. They do not have time to sit by the fireplace and read your resume for an hour. It is your responsibility to provide that information to them clearly, in a form that jumps out at them and quickly explains who you are and why you are the best candidate for the job.
The reader will form a picture of you in their mind within the first few seconds. A compilation of colors, boxes, lines, arrows and pictures (especially of yourself in your finest beachwear) will not make you look like a genius – they will make you look scary. The visual aspect of a resume has a strong impact on the reader and reveals who you are. So from a distant glance the resume should capture the eye tastefully.
A resume should make the reader feel respected. I appreciate when I receive a resume that is virtually perfect, easy to read and understand and relates directly to the employment position. I applaud the candidate who has taken the time to ensure that reading the resume is an enjoyable experience. I want to feel that the document was spiffed and proofed before sending it to me – if it is not, I take a pass. I cannot represent a candidate who has not worked hard enough to make the most important document of their work life an interesting professional statement – what kind of employee will they be if they cannot do this?
And most important, do not lie on your resume.
Potential employers have very little time, and when they review an accumulated stack of resumes, each candidate will have a few seconds to prove worthy of consideration. The biggest mistake I see is too much information.
Some people think including every single experience and skill is vitally important and that the potential employer will read the resume and sift through for their relevant credentials. They will not. The writer may put it in prose style, written like an autobiography, and though it could be the finest short story ever, no potential employer is going to read it. The goal of a resume is to entice the reader into meeting with you; it is not a catalog of everything you’ve ever done. Essentially think of it as a marketing tool that clearly sells you and compels the reader to want to know more and interview you. Illuminate the highlights and eliminate unnecessary information.
Avoid putting too much personal information, and please forget the part about your ex-husbands or ex-wives and what your psychiatrist told you. In addition to conveying your career trajectory, it is important to communicate who you are as a person. For example, in the section that explains your outside interests, list substantive subjects that are interesting, relevant and non-controversial. Accomplishments of any kind – academic, extracurricular, sports, charity, volunteer work and outside classes – are excellent choices. It is fine to include a few personal interests as well, but avoid the commonplace and nonessential. Everyone likes reading, writing, cooking, movies, and animals so that is not interesting. No one wants to know if you are a democrat or republican or fell off a cliff and landed on your head.
A QUICK RUNDOWN ABOUT THE SECTIONS OF A RESUME
Goal: Totally unnecessary and unwanted – it really doesn’t say much about you and looks like the answer to a question from a parent, guidance counselor or parole officer. Skip it and tell the reader in the cover letter what your goals are relevant to their company and the available position. It is going to change with every application for a job.
Summary (also called Professional Summary, Core Competencies, Areas of Expertise, etc.) This is a powerful section – it is an opportunity to brag about your achievements. Stay away from skills, experience, etc. because those will be in the body of your resume. Boast about those that affected success.
Experience – Include name and location of the company, your title (plural if you were promoted) and dates of employment including month and year (not day). The content is a whole other matter, but simply keep it concise and illuminate valuable experience. And if you are at a higher level, skip your internships.
Skills – This is a separate section usually at the bottom of a resume. List only those you currently or most recently possess. Think about an employer asking you how well you can operate a certain computer program listed on your resume. If you can’t say you are proficient, do not include it.
Education: This section is meant to communicate not only what you studied, but indicate how well you did and how hard you tried. If you put yourself through college, make sure you include that in parenthesis next to employment dates as “position held in college.” If you have not attended college, include the name and location of the high school and year graduated. If you plan on attending college, indicate when, what and how – you want to let them know you plan for further education. For both college and high school, include your GPA only if it was 3.5 or higher and if you were valedictorian and/or graduated cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude. Indicate any scholarships you received. And include activities in which you participated and excelled, and memberships in honors societies and non-controversial organizations.
A final secret to share with you: selectively use bullet points for lists to make it easy on the eye.
Your resume makes the decision as to whether or not you get a job. Don’t leave that to chance. Take the time to make your resume a masterpiece.
Adriane Lee Schwartz is CEO of Style Search & Consulting and is writing a book about job searching; if you are interested in acquiring an advanced copy, please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Style Search is a leading recruitment firm dedicated to placing talent in the fashion industry (www.stylesearchusa.com), an industry she has been in for 25 years. She is also a professional resume writer. Adriane holds a Master of Science in Management and Organizational Development and a Bachelor of Arts in Writing. She is a speaker and published writer on employment-related topics. If you want assistance creating a winning resume, Adriane can help. You can reach her at email@example.com. For questions related to your interview, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.