Your career goals may be far from being a salesperson but when it comes to your resume, you do need to know how to sell yourself. And that’s how you should think of your resume – as your professional sell sheet.
Your resume should highlight your professional success stories in the best possible light, with each success “popping” from your resume.
So how do you do that? What should you do? What’s shouldn’t you do? In a very quick nutshell, here’s some do’s and don’ts based on my experience of writing and reviewing literally 1000’s of resumes:
- Consider adding a Professional Summary to the top of your resume. Think of this section as your elevator pitch as to why you would be the perfect fit for the job.
- Remember, your resume isn’t your job description. Eliminate the “noise” and focus on the highlights of your career for each position that you list.
- If it’s an obvious skill, it’s “noise” and detracts away from your success stories. No need to share that you can use Outlook or Excel – it’s assumed these days.
- Be success-oriented as you share your highlights; neutral stories don’t sell!
- Tell me the “why” if you can – i.e. it created a cost-savings, reduced waste, grew profit margins, etc.. (Quantify it if possible!)
- Use the key words relevant to your job in your resume – this will get it through an employer’s automated key word filter system and into the hands of a hiring manager.
- Be consistent in your format, font and font size. This isn’t to say your headers can’t be a larger font size – they should be. Just be consistent throughout your resume.
- Consider bullets over paragraphs. Bullets get read, they pop; paragraphs easily can get ignored and the reader lost in a barrage of words.
- Be professional everywhere in your resume i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org isn’t the email address you want on your resume.
- Use a cover letter to customize your career highlights to the position at hand. Identify their needs, share how your talents align with them, and explicitly highlight how this alignment will allow you to quickly contribute to the role.
- In short, make yourself an easy hire!
- Don’t write a career objective at the top; employers want to know why they should hire you; not why you want to be hired.
- Don’t go over two pages; no one needs your life story; what’s most relevant is what you’ve done in the last ten or so years.
- Don’t write your resume in all capital letters. It’s too hard to read!
- It’s tempting to share hobbies, but remember, you aren’t here to make friends. This is about your job. If your hobby entails professional skills (fundraising, board treasurer) these may make nice exceptions though.
- Don’t include hot topic issues (i.e. politics, religion, gun rights) – remember this is your professional portfolio, not your personal one.
- Don’t be too brief – remember you want to get your key words in there!
- Don’t use your cover letter to repeat your resume. Customize it to the job and share how your talents align with their needs.
- Don’t give them reasons to turn you down – don’t overshare and definitely don’t highlight any projects gone wrong, professional conflicts or career mishaps.
These tips are just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to creating a great resume. I strongly suggest considering hiring a professional resume writer to everyone. Oftentimes we are too close to our own work to know what sells best on a resume and it just may not be that project that we put our heart and soul into that we really want on our resume. An objective writer can help sort that out with you, along with leveraging their experience to put together an outstanding resume in the most current format.
Getting the job of your dreams is the goal; in the meantime, here’s some great deals to help the budget along the way.