Jump Start Your Job Search is a five-part blog series that shows you the best way to find and get your ideal job. Read Part One—How to hunt for a job by looking in all the right places.
Part Two: How to write a killer resume—By learning four key ingredients
Your resume is you — on paper. Imagine you are going to an interview, which of course, is the purpose of a resume: to land the interview.
- What you decide to wear corresponds to the design of your resume.
- How you present yourself (e.g. legs crossed, fidgeting, eye contact) corresponds to the editing of your resume.
- What you talk about corresponds to the main content of your resume.
- How you respond to the inevitable ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ question corresponds to your executive summary.
Huh? Some of this stuff will make more sense when you read the next blog about interviewing, but here’s a recap in reverse order.
The four key ingredients of a killer resume are:
- Executive summary: what you have to offer in short concise sentences
- Content: what your work experience, educational background, and special skills are
- Editing: how well you checked your grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style
- Design: what your resume looks like (e.g., fonts, formatting)
Remember! Download the worksheet at the end of each blog post.
Many people forget to have an executive summary at the top of their resume. Though it’s the first thing an employer will see, it’s the last thing you want to write. It needs to be clear, concise, snappy, and loaded with key words. Though it’s written in a narrative format, you do not need complete sentences. Fragments work fine. Depending on your work experience, a 4 – 5 line executive summary works well. Whatever you do, don’t write the words ‘executive summary’ on your resume.
- An executive summary tells the employer what YOU have to OFFER.
- An objective tells the employer what YOU WANT. Guess what? They don’t care.
- Like a resume, the summary is a fluid document. Use key words in the job description to create it.
- Your job title, which is above the summary, should match the job title in the post — as much as possible.
Remember! The first page often determines if you get an interview. Tweet: Your resume must tell the story the employer wants to hear. #career #BLISSStip
Three most common content mistakes:
- No core competencies
- No company descriptions
- No achievements OR confusing achievements with tasks
Core competencies are skills you do extremely well.
- These skills will match the ‘endorsements’ section on LinkedIn.
- Use key words in the job description to guide you.
Your job description lists your tasks = WHAT you do. Your achievements show your specific, individual accomplishments = HOW you improved things.
Remember! Even if you are not in sales, make your accomplishments as quantitative as possible.
Editing includes checking grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style. There are a variety of styles (e.g., AP, Chicago); it doesn’t matter which one you use, as long as you are consistent. Unless you are a writer, you probably don’t know which style you learned in school. Don’t worry about it. Just be consistent. For example, if you were taught to spell out all numbers until 100, do it throughout the entire resume. However, do optimize for key words. Most large companies use HR management systems so a computer screens your resume before anyone ever sees it. If you write 5M, a computer does not know you mean $5 million so avoid acronyms and industry-specific jargon.
- Use the MS Word grammar check function. It will catch things such as use of first person, subject-verb agreement, passive voice, and style inconsistencies (e.g., oxford comma).
- Run a spell check every time you make a change. Also, read your resume aloud because spell check will not catch homophones (e.g., two, too).
- Vary your word choices; otherwise, you appear to have a limited vocabulary. Use thesaurus.com to inspire you.
- Use punctuation properly.
- Be consistent with style, which includes punctuation, capitalization, formatting, font sizes, etc.
- Check your formatting. Though it’s more of a design issue, I don’t correct formatting issues (e.g., font size, line spacing, paragraph alignment) until I’m in the final phase of editing a resume because it is left-brain task.
Remember! Save as you go.
Create a clean, elegant design. You want your resume to be easy to read.
- Use a sans-serif font such as Arial, Futura, PT Sans Pro, Verdana, etc. San-serif fonts are easier to read on a computer screen and almost all resumes today are initially viewed on a computer screen.
- Avoid using a Word template because most of them are terrible.
- Use 1 – 2 fonts max. The more fonts you use, the more chaotic your resume appears.
- Do not make the font size any smaller than 10!
- Use bold and italic font sparingly and consistently. Use all caps for important headings, but don’t overdo it.
Remember! Select a font type and size and stick with it.
Common resume mistakes
- Do not put your address including street, city, or zip code.
- Too much personal information is dangerous, especially for women.
- HR Managers have been known to discriminate based on your location.
- They make judgments about you based on your neighborhood.
- They may judge your willingness to commute to the job.
- Do not use an AOL, Hotmail, or a work email address.
- AOL means you are old!
- Hotmail has a habit of bouncing emails.
- All work email is subject to scrutiny by your current employer.
- A Gmail, Yahoo, or cable network address (e.g., Charter, AT&T) with your name or an email address linked to your brand works best.
- Do not use an out-of-state number if possible. Obtain a free Google Voice number that forwards to your cell phone.
- Do not list hobbies.
- Do not use a photo.
Remember! Do not give the employer any reason to eliminate you.
The truth about resume writing
When I worked as a resume analyst for Getinterviews.com, I reviewed hundreds of resumes every month. Less than one percent were ready to be submitted for jobs. You heard me right. To put it another way, over 99.5 percent of the resumes were crap. Your resume is the first thing a potential employer sees. The very first thing. You have five seconds to make a good impression. Even if you are a good writer, you should not write your own resume for two reasons: 1) Resume writing is a very specific skill; and 2) you can never be objective about yourself. For example, most people fail to put their brightest achievements on their resume. I realize if you are unemployed the last thing you want to do is spend money. However, job search expenses in your present occupation are often eligible for a tax deduction. Ask your accountant for details. Another thing to consider is hiring a resume writer is an investment in your future. Trying to write your own resume is like trying to replace a turbojet engine in an airplane when you are not an aviation mechanic. I’m sure you know what a plane is, and you’ve flown in one before so you are familiar with some of its parts (e.g., wings, cockpit). But unless you are a professional aviation mechanic, you have no business touching a turbojet engine. If you try to ‘fix it’ you will do more harm than good. I’m not saying you should hire me. In fact, I no longer offer resume writing as a stand-along service. But if you only want a resume writer, you should:
- Do your research.Compare rates. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Many of my clients had their resumes professionally done before coming to me. They didn’t have success because they didn’t want to pay for a good writer and/or they paid for a good writer but didn’t understand HOW to find a job in today’s market (part of my VIP package). The bare minimum you can expect to pay for a decent writer is $400 for an entry-level resume. If that sounds like a lot of money, download this Salary Loss Tool to see how much money you are losing for every week you are unemployed.
- Compare rates. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Many of my clients had their resumes professionally done before coming to me. They didn’t have success because they didn’t want to pay for a good writer and/or they paid for a good writer but didn’t understand HOW to find a job in today’s market (part of my VIP package). The bare minimum you can expect to pay for a decent writer is $400 for an entry-level resume. If that sounds like a lot of money, download this Salary Loss Tool to see how much money you are losing for every week you are unemployed.
- Ask for referrals and/or read their LinkedIn recommendations.
- Do not ask for resume templates or samples. That’s not fair
- Don’t forget. Your resume is only one of many steps in finding your ideal job. If you don’t know how to hunt, how to rock an interview, etc., a stellar resume won’t be enough in today’s competitive job market.
Download our JSYJS How to write a killer resume by learning four key ingredients worksheet.
P.S. Are you unemployed? How much have you lost in wages? Download our FREE Salary Loss Tool to see why you may need to hire a career coach to help you find your next dream job.