Learn How to Make an Optimal Resume to Get Attention!
You need an optimal resume to get attention, to be in the shortlist. How do you secure this? And what is the difference between a resume and a cover letter
You’ve guessed correctly. We are zooming in on the resume (or CV – Curriculum Vitae – as some choose to refer to it by). The following is not a comprehensive guideline on effective resume writing techniques. We’ll cover this in great detail in later posts along with heaps of examples for specific functional jobs – so do come back to Guukle.com often! What we are talking about here is what we’d call the optimal resume.
The resume is the specification sheet to your product brochure. Don’t forget that you are selling yourself. You want to do this right! Right? The document becomes your packaging, the differentiator that secures the interview for you. Or fails to do so.
Recruiters DO NOT WORK FOR YOU. They work for their clients – the ones that pay them to shortlist suitable candidates and fill vacancies. For any given senior position a recruiter can easily scan through 500 resumes before she/he shortlists say 25 to explore, talk to, review etc. If your packaging is not eye catching – ergo if you don’t have an optimal resume, you’ll have less than 7 seconds (yes that is correct!) before he/she moves on to the next in the pile.
Perspective: In a meeting with a recruiter recently. Small to mid sized organization with representation in most of Asia Pacific and alliance partners in Europe and US. I popped up in their database for a specific position. My first contact to them was in 2004. Their first contact to me was in 2010!!. Today, their database has 300,000 job seekers! If your resume is not effective you have close to nil chances for even being shortlisted for review.
So the very simple resume advice is:
1. No more than 3 pages. Some argue 2; others argue volume for senior positions. Some job seekers believe max. 1 page should do it. Our advice: Include in the specification sheet what you think make sense for your target reader to pay attention to and try to be selling – but do avoid hype. Try to be as unique as possible – stand out. Be an attention-getter and don’t focus so much on length. 3 pages is just fine.
KEY NOTE: Your resume is NOT your cover letter! It is distinctly different. More about cover letters later. For now we focus on the resume.
2. Make sure you have a summary section. This should be on page 1 (above the fold i.e. in the upper part of the resume) and definitely be the attention getter. The summary section must compel the reader to read on and when completed, put you in the short list pile or call you to set up an appointment. This is what you want. This is your key objective on first contact. No more. If this is what your resume delivers you really do have an optimal resume.
3. No spelling, grammar or syntax errors. Of course you may think but did you know that so often, so many go wrong here? These are NOGO’s and definite turn-offs. If you can’t even spell correctly how can I confidently recommend you for a $X00,000 position? Not an unreasonable thought it is?
4. Use one font type. Vary the font size, sparingly use bold and underline or italics for emphasis, but use the same type – please! Be neat.
5. Be comprehensive yet specific. Nobody really cares what you did 20 years ago!
6. State your achievements and make them quantifiable. Rather than “I increased sales of product X” you may want “$2 mill. incremental revenue of product X with +5% EBIT” in 16 months. That’s eye catching.
7. Avoid passive verbs. Use action verbs.
8. Use a hybrid approach – don’t rely on just chronological or functional listing of jobs. Combine.
9. State your “most recent or most significant achievements” per functional position.
10. To assess or get help with producing an optimal resume, consult with a professional resume writer. If you find a great one they are worth the money. There is a lot of rack pack out there. Use one that’s recommend by recruiters or professional job sites.
Do not underestimate the importance of your resume. Spend time on it. Invest in it and re-visit, double, triple check it again and again.
And keep it current! Update every six months.
Finally – Be honest. Do not state achievements that can’t be traced back to you. Do not state that you have a Ph.D. if you don’t. Don’t pump your title or your achievements. In short: Don’t inflate the resume. You will be found out one day and when that happens…………. Increasingly, head-hunters, recruiters and companies are verifying resumes and – for mid to senior level positions – they will be requesting references. Any unfounded statement, even if just slightly incorrect, will be found out and will have consequences.
In terms of making sure to avoid lies, we found following excellent piece – courtesy of Marc Cenedella, Founder & CEO of TheLadders.com. It’s a great document!
A quote from somewhere:
Make sure that the resume persuasively communicates your potential value, not just past experience.
The Bottom Line: Employers want to know that you are not going to waste their time. The key to capturing employers’ attention is to have a no-nonsense resume that stays away from mass-market formats and decisively focuses on your executive potential. Strategically show decision makers that your ROI is high and that hiring you will bring solid, unquestionable future benefits to their company.
Nowhere however, have we seen any reference to the need to assure that a resume is culturally sensitive. This is what we choose to refer to it by. Point in case: You are an executive and you may look for challenges across the globe. Your focus is international/global. The job hunting and recruitment process in Europe, the US, Asia is alike but there are unique differences. A resume that flies great in the US may not necessarily do so in Europe. Planning recruiter meetings in Asia may well be very different to such comparable ones in the US. Etc. etc. You must respect this and can do so by research. If you choose to apply for a job offered in a country across the miles, research if in that country or region etc. there are specific resume design and contents standards and etiquette to follow, or approaches that works well. On this noone can generalize.
Additional resource here