For nearly two decades I’ve studied the business of finding a new job. Looking for a new job inevitably starts with updating your resume. When considering how to write a resume we most often look to industry experts for advice. Our experts have been composing resumes for decades and interestingly enough, even though the job seeking environment looks nothing like it did in 1960, we continue to do things the way we’ve always done it.
A half century since someone wrote the first “professional summary”, it’s time to completely scrap the traditional methods of writing a resume.
Why change now
Lets do some math. Monster.com accumulates 10 million resumes a year. Careerbuilder.com, Indeed.com, and probably a hundred similar websites are doing the same thing. It would not be unreasonable to say that a typical employer has access to a billion resumes with just a couple of mouse clicks. Let me just say that again for effect.. “one billion”. Even if you limit the search parameters to a 50 mile radius of your city, you are still competing with many thousands of other job seekers.
It is necessary to change the way we write our resumes because each of us has very unique experience. We all bring something different to the table, yet all of our resumes read the same.
If a resume is confusing, or ambiguous, or looks like everybody else, it ends up in the maybe pile. The maybe pile is the kiss of death.
Most folks will never change
For most folks it takes tremendous courage to go against tradition.
I’m going to digress for a moment and tell you a story about Wilt Chamberlain to illustrate my point. Wilt Chamberlain was argueably one of the greatest basketball players that ever lived. He was 7’1″ and 275 lbs, but he moved with amazing grace and style. His weakness was free throws. On March 2, 1962, after a long night of too much partying, Chaimberlain, in perhaps a moment of “I just don’t care” scored over 100 points. He did it by throwing his free throws underhanded.
3 Do’s of resume writing
Do focus, and say what you want
How do you get your resume to stand out in the vast sea of competing resumes? Focus. The more that you target your search, the less competition you will have.
If you want to be a generalist when you are young, I suppose that’s okay because you still have lot of career ahead of you to try out different jobs. But if we want to make more money, and be able to put the entry level job seekers behind us, then we absolutely must specialize. Pick a job that you want, then go after it with a passion.
If you’re young and insistent about leaving your fate to the gods and try for two different job titles, then build two different resumes. Start by making it clear what you are targeting, then expand the items in your resume that are most relevant to that job. Minimize the descriptions of those jobs that have less relevance. The worst thing that you could do is throw a resume out into the vast galaxy of resumes that has no direction.
Do quantify your experience as it relates to the job you are targeting
John, please write smart stuff in this space.
Do write your resume to be understood by any 5th grader
Paint a complete picture of who you are.
We also need some fancy writing here.
3 Don’ts of resume writing
Don’t be vague or unclear
Most people will tell you that time is the most valuable thing that they have. If you have written your resume in such a way that I find myself trying to figure out what you’re trying to hid from me, then I can assure you that your resume will end up (at best) in the “maybe” pile. The maybe pile is the kiss of death for a resume. Nobody wants to hire from their maybe pile, including me. With so many resumes available, most recruiters will simply keep looking until they find a few folks for their “yes” pile.
Don’t waste space by writing anything that can be interpreted in more than one way
“Increased revenue by 150% in the first three months”
This could mean so many things! Revenue of what? The company? The division? The department? You own? You were one of 50 people and had that kind of impact? Or perhaps you are the only person in that role, and the three months prior to your hire they were short staffed?
Was the revenue before you $1,000 or $1,000,000
The statement really means nothing. Get rid of it.
“Great with teams or can work independently”
Seriously, I can’t imagine anyone who would not say this about themselves when they are trying to get a job.
If your resume is more than one page because you are quantifying, don’t worry about it.
And finally, here.