This past week, I coached an entrepreneur through the might-have-been-painful process of revamping his resume. Despite a number of successful years running his own business, he has decided to seek increased stability by rejoining the 9-5 workforce.
A wise move, considering the recent Gallup poll which indicates that 56.4% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 DON’T have full time jobs.
If you are one of the un or underemployed thousands, whether or not you have a solid way to get your foot in the door, one thing is for sure: you WILL need a killer resume. And there’s good news. Plenty of websites will walk you through the basics: brief is better, perfect your punctuation, tell the truth…. And though none of them offer a deep dive, I can help you navigate the nuance.
7 tips to build a better résumé, resumé or resume
1. Qualities are not skills
Good Listener and Team Player are not skills. They are qualities. Wonderful, wonderful qualities. But they do not belong at the top of a resume. Photoshop and Strategic Planning? Those are skills. List both qualities and skills if you think you need to, but keep them separate.
2. Put the action first
Assume that your resume reviewers will be scanning – not reading – your resume. They will not absorb every word. So, put the action first.
Supported the finance team, producing new systems and process to increase revenue. Weak.
Increased revenue 25% by implementing new systems and processes to support the finance team. Strong!
3. Plan to be searched
Google yourself (yes, right now). If you don’t pop up on page one, try a few keywords – your alma mater, middle name, email address…. Check out pages 2,3,4,5,6 on Google. If you like what you see, congratulations! If you don’t – clean it up. You better believe your prospective employer is going to be checking. Then go to Facebook and check your privacy settings. I recently realized that all of my mobile posts were public. Your prospective employer doesn’t need to see that adorable, inspirational video of the swimmer puppy, though I certainly enjoyed it, and they sure don’t need to see your selfies. Let’s be real – no one needs to see your selfies.
4. Name that file
Please please please don’t ever send “ResumeGeneric10” or “Resumeforfinancejobs” to a potential employer. “LastName_FirstName_NameofPosition” is appropriate and much easier for an employer to search.
5. Craft – craft – craft
Make sure you tailor each resume and each cover letter to the specific job for which it will be submitted. I know it takes time, but I swear it’s worth it. Employers receive somewhere between 50 and 150 cover letters daily. Generic letters are going in the reject pile.
6. Know your audience
Wikipedia argues that Resume can be spelled résumé, resumé or resume. Think about the job you are applying for when you decide which spelling to use – and then be consistent. Old school employers will expect the accents. Start-ups may not. But you can never go wrong with the tried and true, Miss Manners approved resumé.
7. Get a second opinion
Everyone needs an editor. Everyone. Pass your resume on to a trusted (eagle-eyed accurate) friend or mentor and ask for feedback. Fresh eyes will help you catch errors and inconsistencies that you may not be able to catch on your own. And if you are so inclined, reach out to a professional. An hour spent crafting a resume with the right support is well worth the expense. Remember, oftentimes, your resume is the ONLY chance you have to make a first impression.
Don’t miss the opportunity to wow.