If you want your resume to get noticed, then stop making it read like a thousand other people who want the same job.
Job Coaches who advise you to sell yourself are giving you bad advice. The act of selling implies that you are trying to convince hiring managers to trust that you are a good hire. You are right to feel uncomfortable pounding your chest and asking them to trust. You don’t need to do it.
If you are brave enough to ignore all of the old rules and only follow this one new rule, your resume will do exactly as you intended for it to do:
It will attract attention.
It will get read from start to finish
It will attract only the best companies who’s job opening fits what you’re looking for
It will make your inbox full and your phone to ring.
RULE #1: PUT NOTHING ON YOUR RESUME THAT COULD BE FOUND ON SOMEONE ELSE’S.
EVERYTHING ON YOUR RESUME SHOULD BE 100% YOU.
WHAT NOT TO DO
- NO keyword loading (unless you are in banking). It just looks and reads like nonsense to humans. Further, if you do the rest of this correctly, you’ll have all the keywords that you need.
- NO clichés—ever! In 8th grade English and Literature class we learn that the easiest way to be misunderstood is to use a cliché. “Great at teamwork or working independently” is an example of a cliché.
- Do not list job duties. The very un-interesting job descriptions written in your employee handbook should not be what is written in your resume. Further, there are some things that you did once, and there are others that you did ten times a day every day for the whole time that you were employed there. When you list duties, the weighting is subjective and left to the reader.
- Write nothing that is subjective. Cliches are subjective. Keywords are subjective. Job duties are subjective. The “Skills” section of your resume is subjective. Your idea of being skilled at computer programming is completely different than the resume before you and the resume after you. Each person who reads your cliches, keywords, job duties, and skills will see them through their own lens. This is great if they are an optimist. But what if they’re not? I recommend that you not leave it up to their subjective opinion as to whether or not you are worthy of the position you are applying for.
- Write nothing that is superfluous. The person who’s been a Contract Administrator for 10 years that brags about being proficient in Microsoft Word is belittling themselves. Of course, you’re good at Microsoft Word. It doesn’t need to be said as though you’re proud of it.
HOW TO DO IT
- The only thing on your resume should be the direction you’re trying to go, your work, and your education
- Have an Objective Statement. Be brave enough to state it clearly and succinctly. There is no better thing to make clear to an employer than the job that they are offering is the job that you want. If what they are offering doesn’t fit your objective, then you are having the wrong conversation with the wrong person.
- Work and Education History. List it ALL! You have no idea what life experience will strike a chord with the hiring manager. List it in chronological order so that it’s easy to read. When you muck it around it tends to look like you’re hiding something.
- Descriptions. Only write descriptions that are directly related to the job you are trying to land. Everyone knows (more or less) what a retail clerk does. The specifics are only relevant if you are applying for another retail job.
- Quantify your experience. Don’t tell me that you operated a machine. Instead, tell me that you built 124,800 widgets over the last 6 years—or 20,800 per year, or 400 a week, or 80 per day, or 1 every 6 minutes. See how much more interesting it is? Avoid talking about percentages unless you can put them in proper perspective. If you were in sales and tell me that you improved your division of one by 150% since you started there, I will point out that it means that you were doing your job. You need to find a way to make it real for the reader. Avoid spin. If you worked on a project, we are more concerned with your role rather than that it was a gazillion dollar project. Did you do it all yourself or did you have help? Don’t make the reader guess.
- Sometimes it is okay to write in the first person. (Briefly) tell your story. I bet its interesting. Writing in the 3rd person is…weird.
- Make your resume as long or as short as it needs to be. If every word is meaningful, then it will be information that HR managers want to read. Alternatively, it is certainly acceptable to have a separate document (referenced in your resume) that is a portfolio of your work.
The purpose of a resume is to document your experience and get the phone to ring. What I’ve proposed here is scary because nobody else is doing it. But isn’t that exactly why you should?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Have you tried something similar to this? How did it work?