Can you say yes to these 5 questions about your resume?
1. Do you have a Summary of Qualifications at the top?
In the old days people used an objective statement, and it was deadly dull —“…looking for a challenging position that can use the skills of a go getter…” They were not only boring—even for a resume, but also very general, predictable and of not much interest to the employer. They said this is ME and what I want.
Now it’s still says, this is me, but it is more attuned to what the employer wants. After all the employer has the money and the benefits and jobs, so it’s OK to figure what THEY want so you can get that money, benefits, and great job and career. For instance: “Problem-solver with 10 years experience in sales management who opened up 3 new states for an expanding business, helping their revenues grow by 35% in 2 years.”
If that’s what they’re looking for it will get their interest more than telling them what you’d like to be doing.
The Summary of Qualifications should be a short paragraph or 4 or 5 bullets.
2. Did you use all the main keywords and phrases you need?
The name of the game when trying to make your way past the profound wisdom and compassion of the computer screening programs that decides the first round of screening is to use keywords. Computers get their warm fuzzies by searching your resume for specific words and phrases. Go ahead and make them happy, which means you need to include the words describing what’s wanted in the job description. Use the exact phrases in the job description, even if you have a different and better way to discuss your experience.
Don’t spam the keywords over and over, but get them in there, get them near the top.
Tip—After the summary of qualifications you can also list all the keywords in a separate bulleted list of skills, assuming that is, you have those skills.
3. Do you customize each resume you send for each job?
It once was extremely difficult, but today it’s relatively easy, so you can and in fact need to customize each resume according to the job description and needs of each company. You don’t have to rewrite the whole thing each time. Just make sure you focus on what is most important to the company. If one company is emphasizing innovation, frame your accomplishments in terms of what you added that was new. If they want social media skills, include accomplishments with that, even if it is volunteer work. You want to be the one whose resume seems such a solid match, they have no choice but to interview you and be in a good mood about it, too.
4. Did you spellcheck?
A famous (or maybe infamous) career blogger wrote an entry saying, go ahead, blow off proper spelling for your professional blogging. No big deal any more. That post got lots of attention, which is great for the contrarian and intentionally provocative blogger. Bad for everyone else. As appealing as that idea may be, it’s nonsense for anything professional and certainly shouldn’t be extended to resumes. You aren’t too likely to find an employer who won’t flag a bunch of resume typing errors as an issue–not only because your spelling or typing isn’t great–but because it shows lack of attention to detail when getting it right is very do-able. Use the spellcheck. Don’t stop there. Have a human being, not you and preferably one who can spell without using the spellcheck, proof your resume.
5. Do your accomplishments include things that are measurable and/or observable and/or specific?
Employers want to know how wonderful you are, not just that you are wonderful. They learn this (or think they do) by seeing that you didn’t just “boost sales with a new training program” but “boosted sales by 23% with a low cost new training program adopted nationally for 300 sales representatives.”
Use the numbers, the results, the observable happiness that came from all of the wonderful things you did on your past jobs.
How did you do?
Were you able to answer yes to each of these questions? If not, don’t panic. You can make these changes and still get the ultimate passing grade of a great job. By looking online, you can find models of resumes that do all of these things well. The extra effort at this stage can make or break your job hunt, even though the resume at best is only a pass to an interview. Without that pass, though, you don’t even get in the door.
.…In case you’re wondering, I don’t write resumes for clients. Sorry. But I’d be happy to coach you about your entire job search and career search, including a thorough review of your resume.