A few thoughts on resume writing: KEEP IT SHORT. Unless you have been working for years, ONE PAGE IS ENOUGH.
When your resume hits the desk of a hiring manager with a stack of your competition, you get just 20 seconds’ tops before they move on to the next candidate.
With this mind, what would you do differently?
Would you continue your scramble like everyone else?
Asking yourself questions like:
“What font should I use?”
“What size should it be?”
“Which word should I bold and which should be in italics?”
“WHAT ABOUT SPACING?”
Like you, I went through the web trying to figure the “magic format” that will have the hiring manager “hooked onto my every word” & immediately call me up for an interview. But… it doesn’t exist.
Don’t get me wrong. Formatting is important, it forms the first overall impression when they look at your resume.
BUT… what is even more important are the choice of WORDS to put on your resume.
The right choice of words in the right order will give the reader the right message you are trying to send out and ultimately make them shortlist you and send you an e-mail inviting you for an interview.
One of the most common mistakes people do is writing every single word as clinical as can be (e.g. Performed tasks under deadlines & co-operated with teammates) — which will make your resume so common and boring.
So, how do you write an irresistible resume that attracts interviews like a magnet?
The 3 Tips To Keep in Mind:
Tip #1 – Sell the Truth & Make it Fascinating.
YOUR RESUME IS A MARKETING PIECE.
There are a million ways to list your academics.
You could tell the truth & say:
“University of ANON; Bachelor of Arts; GPA 3.50; Second Upper Class Honours”
Or you could say:
“University of ANON; Bachelor of Arts; Second Upper Class Honours, Distinction in Arts, History, Psychology & Social Studies.”
There are no rules saying that you have to list your achievements in a particular way. Your resume is your canvas.
But I get asked a lot what to do if your grades are mediocre?
The answer? Simple. Just highlight your strengths and downplay your weaknesses.
For example, you can say:
“University of ANON; Bachelor of Arts;
Subjects include__(strong & relevant subject title 1, 2, 3) __.”
Psychology research shows that simply including a certain name or label sparks a relative association with that name.
Example A: “I have worked as a driver, call operator & retail assistant.”
Example B: “I have worked for Uber, Apple & ZARA.”
Which sentence jumped out at you? Why?
Because the 3 companies have spent millions and billions of dollars on marketing to establish their brand presence & personality.
By putting names like that on your resume, be it a minor role, the reader will subconsciously think of the words associated with that brand.
Words like “innovative, tech, design, professional, international” will come to mind as they read your resume.
Sell the truth (don’t lie) & make it fascinating.
The point is to show them what you have achieved that is relevant and of interest to them. Not everything and anything you have achieved.
Imagine that you are on your first date and your date asked you what you did over the weekend? What would you say?
You would say what makes you desirable. DUH.
You wouldn’t say that you cried yourself to sleep or you picked your nose on the way there.
The same goes to writing your resume. It’s your first date with the company and it’s your opportunity to make yourself shine.
Position yourself in the best light possible.
Tip #2 – Wearing Your Boss’s Shoes.
Your RESUME is the first (and sometimes, the only) thing the company sees of you. Wouldn’t you want to make an impression?
Mind you, the people who work in Human Resource spend literally 8 hours a day, 8am to 5pm, 5 days a week, looking through HUNDREDS and THOUSANDS of people, and you, yes you, just taking the time to understand how they would feel and perceive you when it’s your turn – will make all the difference.
When was the last time you came across a video you shared on Facebook? Do you think the creator of that video just woke up, record it, edit it and posted it online without a thought?
In reality, a lot of effort and time was spent to edit that video second-by-second and the title for that post was rewritten at least 10 times before they actually click the “Publish” button.
From the employer’s perspective, they want someone who is not just smart & reliable, but they also want a team player, somebody who is fun to work with.
You seen it before.
Someone with poorer grades than you got hired for a great job.
How does this happen?
Because that person knew very well how to socialize besides just having the “skills” for the job.
RULE OF THUMB: Emphasize on RESULTS (remember a lot of people can tell you what they did, but rarely what they achieved). Use numbers where possible.
Picture this, you went against all your friend’s & families wishes for a secure future, and decided to build your own business. It didn’t make money for the first year. You did what you could to pay the bills. Once the business was ready, you jumped in full-time. You can only do so much. You decide to hire someone to manage your operations while you go out and make more deals.
Two people sent their resumes to you:
Person A: “Performed daily operations & kept store clean.”
Person B: “Streamlined operations resulting in 30% more sales per week.”
Which one would you bet your hard-earned company’s money on?
Another example is:
Pitch A: I can help you be more attractive.
Pitch B: I can help you get your first date under 5 days.
Pitch B got your attention huh?
Tip #3 – Be a storyteller.
Your resume tells a story to the employer.
Your resume should have a narrative that gives the reader an impression of what you are about in less than 5 seconds.
If you just throw in ALL your achievements from your spelling bee, to your taekwondo, to your interest in pottery, it gives very mixed signals to the reader.
They would go, “This person does everything, therefore they are not good at anything!”
Like the saying “if you love everyone, it means that you love no one in particular.”
In essence, what are the 1 or 2 main words that you want to be associated with?
After the hours of reviewing other applicants, what do you want to be remembered as?
If your resume included pottery, spelling bee, taekwondo, they can’t have a clear memory of what you stand for.
But if your resume included just attending business conferences, did marketing and sales, they will recall you as the business & marketing guy, whichever is more memorable in their heads.
Make your message as memorable as possible.
What are your 2 words?
It is worth noting that your resume is your first impression. And first impressions last.
Considering a man in a navy suit with leather black shoes compared to the same man in an orange suit with cowboy boots, the former will be considered more professional simply because he is perceived as such. His past achievements are the same, it was just the way he appeared that made the difference.
Whether writing your very first or updating for your next job, making mistakes in writing your resume is unavoidable. But don’t worry, it’s okay. Resume writing is a continuous process anyway, you should update your resume once you made an important achievement or mastered a new skill–especially those skills that are applicable to your job or industry.
Resume writing constantly changes and there are many mistakes or resume blunders that applicants tend to overlook. The common resume formats used in the past years are now obsolete. Information written on resumes years ago are now big mistakes you should remove. Those mistakes are still used in the competitive industry; in fact, I was once an Administrative Secretary screening out resumes, looking for the perfect candidate for open positions and while doing this job for months, it is really upsetting because none of the applicants sent a professional resume. What I mean when I say professional resume, I mean a resume that focuses on skills and achievements, a targeted resume that presents needed quality and skills for the position, not just a career history, a resume without the simple and most common resume blunders. Believe it or not, some applicants even submit a Bio-data.
If you want to be a common applicant, follow the mistakes that common applicants do–submit a generic resume, you can even submit a bio-data if you want, but if you want to stand out among the competition, avoid the most common resume blunders.
Avoid the 10-second screen out by avoiding these common resume blunders:
Always submit a cover letter.
Avoid typos or improper use of grammar.
Avoid mailing blunders: don’t fold, staple, or put paper clips.
Have trusted people check and double-check your resume.
Invest in a professional mailing envelope, e.g. 8.5 x 11 class envelope.
It’s better to invest in mailing label than putting address in the front.
Leave off: Photograph -even if you are gorgeous except if it is required for the position such as actor or model
Leave off: Salary Information
Leave off: Hobbies
Resume writing is a continuous process, it is never constant. Check for more samples available online and use them as benchmark in writing your resume. Do not just rely on your old knowledge about resume writing because it is more probable that you have been doing it wrong. By the way, keep posted with this article because I will be updating and adding more resume blunders in this post.
Does having a good resume format matter? Of course it does! Choosing a legible font or margin size in your resume is an important consideration when it comes to resume format.
Resume Format Basics
-Choosing the right font for your resume is very important. When creating a resume (especially a traditional resume), use a standard font across platforms: Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana or Tahoma - these are the fonts that are automatically installed in most computer systems. If you are in the education or health care industry, the best fonts to use are serif fonts because the end strokes of the typefaces and their old-style make them more readable. For modern and creative resumes, sans serif typefaces are the best to use because of their modern nature. However, whether you are writing a traditional or modern resume, always remember to choose a readable font.
Be consistent. Use no more than 2 fonts. Size. Don’t use anything less than 10 points or larger than 12 points (11 points is a happy medium). Your name should be between 16 and 22 pt.
If you decide to use a non-standard font, send your resume as a PDF or through “snail mail” (postal mail). If fonts are unavailable in the employer’s computer, once he/she reads your resume in an MSWord format, fonts will be substituted and the resume’s layout will be different.
-Use margins / white space generously. Ideally, make your margin 1 inch all the way around.
-Left and right margin should always be the same in size.
-Bullets are helpful in making long sentences in your resume readable.
-Non-standard bullets are not available in employer’s computer
-Only use non-standard bullet points for hard copy or PDF (portable document format).
Be consistent throughout your resume. Consistency plays a vital role in creating a positive visual appearance. Your resume format, design and layout should be consistent in every page.
5. Other Resume Format Considerations
Use styles to make sure your formatting remains consistent. Repeat your name and contact information on the second page and subdivide your resume into sections.
Note: Left aligned texts are easier to read than justified texts.
Your resume can make or break your chance in getting that dream job so no matter how cliché it is, you should give your best effort in writing your resume. You can search for guidelines in the internet about resume writing but if your resume do not answer these questions, it will not be as effective:
Five Questions Your Resume Must Answer
1. What position do you want to target?
The resume should be built around your target position. Today, written objectives are rarely used. This will help a prospective employer immediately see how you are qualified for the position. Placing a target title at the top of the resume will make it clear to the reader what type of position a candidate is seeking.
2. Why are you qualified?
This is the “Qualifications Summary” or “Professional Profile” section. This area is used to outline your skills and credentials that qualify you for the job. If this section is done properly, it will persuade a hiring manager that the rest of your resume is worth reading.
3. Where did you gain experience?
The reader needs to know the names of your employers, the city and the state where each is located, the dates of each position held, and what your responsibilities were in each job. Ideally, your job descriptions should include lots of active verbs and focus on keywords and functional skills that are most relevant to your target position.
4. How well have you done?
Listing accomplishments and special projects shows that you have contributed uniquely to the bottom line in each of your positions.
The best accomplishments are those that demonstrate quantifiable results of your willingness to “go the extra mile.”
Did you save your company money?
Were you promoted?
Were you selected to participate in / manage a key program or project?
5. What education and / or training have you participated in that would benefit the employer?
Include only education that is related to your target position. If you have specialized certifications, be sure to put those in the resume along with computer experience.
Providing answers to these questions will ensure that you are communicating your value to potential employers and will greatly increase your odds of landing interviews. Further, the process will make you more comfortable when speaking to a hiring manager about your qualifications. Now do yourself a favor and tailor your resume to answer the following questions.