Everyone should have an updated copy of their resume on hand at all times. Not only for the “just in case” Merger, Restructure, or great new job opportunity but also for the inevitable salary review, promotion opportunity, etc at your current company. When/if asked the hard questions on what value you provide to the company you will be able to quickly note past & current responsibilities, accomplishments, and accolades because you have assembled them in a simple structured format ie your resume! So here are some quick tips to draft or improve your resume.
- Do it yourself! Do not rely on a resume service to draft your resume. You are the best advocate of your background. Get excited about it! If you are having trouble there is a wealth of knowledge on the internet, library, or bookstore on resume writing. It is a great skill to have not only for you but so that you can be a resource for your peers & family.
- Name the document with your name last_first or first_last. When a hiring manager goes to access your resume they won’t have to sort through dozens of docs named Resume2011 (probably including their own resume).
- Include your name, address, phone, email and links to public profiles (ie Linkedin..especially if you have a lot of recommendations). If you are worried about identity theft, purchase identity theft protection/insurance. A hiring manager shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get in touch with you. Also be sure you have a business email (ie no email@example.com) and professional phone message. Also don’t include your work phone if you work in a cube or home phone if your 3 year old answers the phone.
- If you haven’t put together/upgraded a resume in a while and are intimidated by a blank Word Doc make a freehand outline on a legal pad first. A simple way to start is just company, job title, dates held, responsibilities, accomplishments, and include keywords/acronyms/accounts. Think back to the places, projects, accounts, and people so you are sure not to miss anything important.
- Use a resume template in Word or PDF. No reason to reinvent the wheel. Bold the company, job title, and dates held. Bullet out the responsibilities, accomplishments, and accolades. Quantify when possible. Quick examples: 50% increase in sales, completed project 20% under budget, or landed 3 new accounts. Also bold your education, degrees, and dates completed.
- Stay positive. Every restructure was a time to embrace change, every new role had new challenges and provided a chance to grow. If you don’t have a lot of experience look for the positive in any role. Cashier=Customer Service, Worked the floor at a store=Sales, Laborer=Strong work ethic. I had a candidate that worked at a mental institution between BA & MBA school= dealing with difficult people and conflict resolution. He had story after story..hair raising, life & death stories. After being there a corporate boardroom will be a piece of cake.
- Take an arm’s length view or your resume..Does it flow? Do the companies, roles, accomplishments or results jump out at you? A hiring manager may only take a minute or two (sometimes even less) to review your resume. Don’t be afraid to use bold or italics but be prudent. Try to stay away from big paragraphs and objectives especially if you are submitting through job boards.
- Have someone else review it and proofread. Someone you trust, that has a grasp of the English language, and your work experience.
- Be flexible. Have a one page for job boards and a more detailed copy for when you know you will one of a few. Review every job description before sending out a resume. Be sure the key words match. Some companies rely on ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) to screen for key words, your resume may not even get to a person if the words don’t match. Every company has their own lingo for the same tasks, don’t assume someone else (or software) will understand.
- Know it like an actor knows a script. Be prepared to talk about what you did 10 years ago or why you chose your degree. Also have your elevator speech prepared; a short speech on your background and why you will be an asset to the company.
Once completed a resume is valuable tool for your career advancement. So the next time you have a great opportunity presented or if your CEO pops in to discuss your contribution to the company you will be prepared. And luck favors the prepared!