A quick guide to get your resume written today! Writing a resume can be a daunting task. You may be asking yourself how long do I make it, what format should I use, what should I include and not include? The list goes on and on and can create some analysis paralysis and writer’s block. Let’s break this down in terms that will help you get your resume written today! The biggest challenge is getting all of that great work you’ve been doing out of your head and onto paper. So relax and let’s get started.
- How long should my resume be?
0-10 year’s experience = 1 page (Sorry, rarely any exceptions here) 11+ year’s experience = max 2 pages (although 1 page is always great if you can make it work)
- To include or not include your address.
In recent years, I have found that there is an unconscious bias that can play a factor in getting an interview, based upon your location. If you can’t make it to the job, you need not apply. An employer or recruiter can happily ask you if you will be able to abide by the schedule proposed, but getting that recruiter calling is the more important task at hand. A second point is that your resume gets passed around during an interview process and let’s be frank, do you want all of those non-HR employees peeping at your personal info?
- Professional Summary, Profile, Executive Summary, Summary
Don’t focus as much on the title of this section as you do on the content. This is by all means your elevator pitch, and these are the four steps to nailing it! Step 1: Define who you are. Example: Award-winning Sales Manager Step 2: Describe what you do and its impact. Example: developing long-standing client relationships in the architectural products market. Step 3: Explain what’s unique and different about you to create a hook. Example: Strategic visionary, collaborating with management in the creation and development of marketing plans and events to enhance brand recognition. Step 4: Put it all together. Award-winning Sales Manager that continually increases brand awareness and market share. Strategic visionary, collaborating with management in creating and executing marketing plans that enhance brand recognition.
- Professional Experience Section
There are two primary choices when creating your professional experience section.
Basic chronological. This works well when you can showcase your progression either through growth or industry development. Everything is time-lined starting with the most recent experience or role.
Functional. This format allows you to group your like-minded roles together to showcase your transferable skills in those areas. For example: You have experience working with brands and marketing, as well as different management roles throughout your career. It helps paint a concise picture when you can list all of them together under two titles; Brand Marketing Experience and then Leadership Experience. Once you decide on the format, make sure to identify what your target roles are looking for and illustrate those skills and experiences throughout the resume. This includes putting those infamous keywords into your writing. Take a breath, it is easier than it seems. Focus on what makes you proud in the role, what did you do that drove impact to the business, your manager, your staff or co-workers and how did you do it. That is your biggest differentiator, not a list of tasks that read like a job description.
- Early Career Summary
Have you been in the workforce a while? Or do you have several roles that led to your growth, but don’t have room to put them all? Add this section and list the roles and company name. You may or may not consider putting dates depending on how long each role lasted.
If you just graduated, this section serves you well on top of the resume, unless you’ve had several internships and/or work experiences during your academic career. Otherwise, put your education toward the bottom of the resume. Education can also include coursework and certifications if you are hard-pressed for room. Make sure it all tells the right story. So if you are applying for a role in finance, you’ll want to leave off a mention of your green belt in taekwondo.
- Volunteerism, extracurricular activities, hobbies and interests.
Think Big-Picture. One question, does this add value to your application and tell the story of why you are the right fit to stand out among other candidates? Most of the time the answer is no. While it may be interesting that you love cross country skiing, if it doesn’t add value, don’t take up the real estate.
Most employers will expect you to provide relevant references if needed. If you have the line References available upon request on your resume, go ahead and press delete.
Last, but of course not least. Proof your document. Elicit the help of others to review before finalizing and sending it out to the world! Here’s to a day filled with creative writing and finding fun ways to incorporate the best of what you do professionally into a one-to-two-page document. It can be done.