13 Jan 5 Steps to Improve Your Resume
Most candidates don’t realize that their resume is the first deliverable they provide to a potential new manager. Does it reflect the quality of their future work? Is it well written? Easy to scan? Concise? Hiring managers often use resumes to weed out people as well as identify stellar candidates. Don’t give anyone a reason to move yours directly to the “No” pile.
I’m always amazed when I see resumes with large blocks of rambling text. I think to myself, “People who can’t summarize key facts tell me they can’t prioritize, focus or make decisions, and will ultimately waste my time.”
Each resume should answer these questions: “What would I hire this person to accomplish?” “What 3 key skills does this person bring to the table?” and “Why would I choose this person over someone else?” If I can’t quickly answer those questions, I move on.
Following are some basic tips to ensure your resume serves you optimally:
- Summarize your skills – If the reader only scans one paragraph, make sure the first one adequately captures the depth of your experience, the position you are seeking, and the core (hopefully unique) skills you have to offer.
- Focus your content – Only include prior tasks that are relevant to the position you are seeking. Don’t assume that listing every skill from your past makes you more valuable. E.g. don’t list your typing speed if you want to be considered for an executive position. Pick 3 core skills to highlight, such as leadership, project management and technical expertise. Then provide supporting info for each.
- Include context – For each position, go beyond simply describing your responsibilities. Instead of “Handled all phone calls and paperwork,” quantify it: “Responded to 245 phone calls daily and 138 form submissions annually supporting a $30M organization with 65 people.”
- Measure your impact – Focus on results, not activities. How did you make the company better because you were in this role? Instead of “Managed software project implementation,” use “Delivered new application that reduced time to market by 2 weeks and saved $200K annually.”
- Tell a good story – Does your resume say, “I worked my way up from an entry-level bookkeeper position to CFO by identifying cost savings, negotiating new pricing and implementing new processes,” or “I float from job to job and industry to industry because I have no particular interests, goals or motivation”?
By delivering a resume that is succinct, compelling and easy to scan, you’re making life easier for your prospective new manager, which is what everyone desires from a new employee.