Roy’s Resume Rules
It’s shocking how many people don’t have the slightest idea how to write a resume.
If you’ve been in the professional workforce at any level for any amount of time, you’ve likely needed a resume. Most people I’ve known slapped something together that they thought looked and sounded good. Many of them spent some time without jobs.
Slapping something together isn’t the way to go. But that doesn’t mean you have to hire somebody to write your resume (I happen to think that’s wise, though). All you have to do is follow a few simple rules.
- Use Microsoft Word. If you attach anything else to an email, the recruiter you send it to is likely to ignore it.
- Use numbers whenever you can. Always quantify your experience. Numbers stand out, because many people don’t use them. Include dollars you added to the bottom line (cost saved, revue added), quantified operational improvements you made (such as months of reduced time to market), number of people you supervised, and so on.
- Don’t use an objective. Use a hard-hitting, targeted summary of your qualifications instead (it contains your objective, actually). Depend on your cover letter to sell you for the job you’re applying for.
- Use “power words”. That means verbs. Verbs say you did something. Absence of verbs suggest you didn’t. Use lots of verbs, in the past tense.
- Focus on what you can do for THEM. Believe it or not, your resume isn’t about you at all. It’s about what you can do for the company who might hire you.
- Don’t get personal. Leave off your weight, height, personal interests, hobbies…all of it. This is a document about what difference you can make in a company. If they ask you about a hobby in the interview, then you give them more details. By the way, part of not being too personal is referring to yourself with “I”, “my”, “me”, etc. Just stick to past-tense verbs. A reader knows he’s reading about the person who’s name’s at the top of the page. Don’t beat him over the head with it.
- Don’t say you can provide references on request. This is a wasted statement. Of COURSE you can provide references. Keep an up-to-date list at all times, and be prepared to hand it to any interviewer, or give it over the phone if they call you. But save it until somebody asks.
- Filter your experience. If you’ve been in the workforce less than a year, college or even pre-college jobs have a place on your resume. If you’ve been around the block a few times, list all your jobs (to avoid any appearance of time gaps), but go into detail on the few (preferably most recent) with accomplishments that add to your commercial for the job you’re applying for.
- Use a chronological resume. Conventional wisdom says that a functional resume can help you handle gaps. Given that that’s the conventional wisdom, you should be suspicious. Recruiters smell trouble when they see a functional resume. Avoid it.
- Never lie. Always tell the truth. Don’t lie, don’t “exaggerate”. If you do, you’ll likely get a job you don’t really want, because you’re not qualified for it. That’s a recipe for stress at best, and getting fired at worst.
That’s all there is to it.
Common sense, you say? Okay. Most people must not have any.
Copyright (c) by Roy Miller