We all know that it is important to put together a solid résumé in order to get a great job, but what exactly should you include on your résumé to get you noticed?
Highlight Your Skills
The number one way to get your résumé noticed by a recruiter or hiring manager is to focus on skills that you bring to the position that other candidates cannot. Be sure that any skills you have that are related to the position are featured at the top of any job history. If the skills are such that you have developed them over the course of your career in a variety of positions, consider setting up a “Skills” section at the beginning of your résumé.
If an employer doesn't know that you posses the skills they are looking for, they will never bring you in for an interview, left alone offer you a job so get those out there where they can see them.
Don’t Include Unnecessary Information
One of the biggest mistakes I see in résumés is that there is too much information. A general rule of thumb is that no résumé should be longer than two pages and if you can find a way to get all the important information on one page, I strongly encourage it. Being able to have one concise page with all the pertinent information in one place can be a huge asset.
By eliminating anything that doesn't apply to the job in question, you naturally bring more attention to what remains. This is the classic rule of addition by subtraction.
Don’t Limit Yourself
Just because you didn't hold a specific job title in a previous position doesn't mean there aren't skills that you can apply to a new one. Look at the example of a teacher. Someone who has been in education for ten years applies for a job as a training manager at a Fortune 500 company. He has never had formal management experience, but as a teacher he has learned to manage the diverse backgrounds of 20-30 students on a daily basis. Additionally, he has experience teaching a variety of subjects and adapting the curriculum to his current set of students.
These are all qualities that directly apply to a training manager position and could make the teacher described above an excellent candidate for the position. He may even get more attention than someone who just has management experience and doesn’t bring any teaching/training background with them.
Spend some time focusing on what you bring specifically to the position at hand and always be sure to tailor your résumé to that position. Remember that one résumé does not fit all.
Last week I wrote about the importance of reading as it related to becoming a better writer. Today I wanted to bring you some thoughts on reading as part of career growth. A few things to consider:
Read About Your Field
This applies for someone who is settled in a job or someone who is just starting out. If you've been in your position for several years, make time to sit down and read something related to what you do so that you can keep up on the current developments in your field.
On the other hand, if you are trying to get a job in a particular field, make sure you are reading about that field before your interview. Take note of the things that are going on and if you find the opportunity, mention them in the interview. This will show the interviewer that you know what’s new in the industry and are care about the position.
Read About the Companies You’re Applying To
This one is critical when looking for a job. Showing the interviewer that you not only have some background about the industry, but that you also have some basic knowledge of the company itself is a huge feather in your cap. The less time they need to spend onboarding you and tell you about the company, the sooner you can get down to the business at hand once you walk in the door.
This applies regardless of where you are in your career. Take a walk down the Self-Improvement/Career/Business aisle at your local library or book store and you will be sure to find something that will help you. From books about leadership to starting a new business, parenting to increasing your productivity, there is something out there for everyone. And if you can’t find what you want to read already in print, a new door may be opening for you…write the book yourself!
Read With Your Ears
This kind of reading for growth doesn't have to be visual. There are thousands of great audio books out there. Check out Audible.com for a huge selection read by some excellent voice talent.
If you’re looking for free audio content, check out iTunes podcast library and simply search for leadership. Just make sure you are taking advantage of your long drive to work or those spare minutes while you’re waiting for your kids to get out of soccer practice.
To help you out a little with determining your next reading assignment, check out the resources below as well as the resources page:
It’s time for another reader response.
Ramit writes-“I have been associated with a single organization without the need to switch jobs [after college]; but I fear someday when I will feel stagnated here, I may be pretty ill equipped in the job market on the resume front.”
A friend of mine (we’ll call him Joe to protect the innocent) recently lost his job. He had been working for the company for almost ten years. One afternoon the entire senior staff was brought into a conference room and told by the CEO that they had to let go of nearly half of Joe’s department. Upon hearing this, Joe immediately pulled up the most recent copy of his résumé to start sending it out to prospective employers.
Joe’s résumé was almost four years old. The last time he had updated it was when he was promoted to the job he was about to be fired from. There was a whole slew of responsibilities and functions of his job that were missing. Joe did his best to go through and update his résumé, but he told me that he felt like there were things he missed because he just couldn’t remember them.
The key to maintaining a great résumé is keeping it updated. Set a reminder for yourself in Outlook or Gmail that will occur once a quarter or every six month and remind you to update your résumé. When you do, print out a copy and make annotations on it where you would be able to enhance something or add new roles and responsibilities. I cannot say enough about having a Master Résumé on file where you can keep all information you might ever need for a job application.
My friend Joe realized that his new job was not going to be exactly the same as his last job, but that was OK. He looked back at projects that he had been a part of and realized that there were several presentations that he had contributed to in terms of the artwork and graphic design. He had always loved art and wanted to do something with his art.
Have a Portfolio
This may sound like something that would only be useful for artists or musicians, but it can apply to just about any position. Anything your produce in your daily work (projects plans, newsletters, new processes, even reports) can be added to your portfolio as demonstration of your ability.
Keep a Goal in Mind
You may have heard the adage that “you interview for your next job every day.” This is absolutely true and it is import to make sure you know what your plans and goals are. Take some time each week and assess where you are in your career and where you are trying to go. Write down your plans and refer back to them regularly.
If you see yourself going in a direction that leads you away from one of your goals, take the time to redirect and make sure everything you do at work is helping you achieve your career goals.
Joe did manage to find a new job just a few months after finding out he was being let go. He brought samples of the presentations he had worked on with him on interviews and was likely hired due to two things. First, he was able to show the interviewers some of his past work. That work provided evidence that he wasn’t just someone who liked to draw stick figures. Secondly, he had experience that was completely separate from his art and that made him a well rounded candidate for the job.
Even though Joe now has a great job doing work that he loves, he still makes sure to keep his Master Résumé updated. He even has two different templates for his résumé, one that is in a more traditional text format and one that incorporates graphic elements that he may use for more artistic work in the future.
Have more questions about writing your résumé? Leave them in the comments below.
A few weeks ago I asked you to send me some of the things that you find hard about writing your résumé. I will be tackling some of those in the coming weeks as blog topics.
Terrance wrote in-“I am not a writer and so I have a hard time crafting my experience on paper. I can talk about what I did but it is also hard remembering everything that I have done.”
I can completely understand this trouble. Some people are natural talkers. They are comfortable telling their story to people face to face but they lock up when they sit down by themselves to tell that same story. Let’s look at a few tips t get around this.
I have written about this in the past but it bears repeating. Make sure that you have a complete Master Résumé handy at all times. This document includes every job (yes, even babysitting or delivering papers in middle school) that you have ever held along with every responsibility that those jobs entailed.
When you need to apply for a job, simply access your Master Résumé and remove anything that doesn't apply to the job in question.
I recommend this not only because I offer this as a service through Best Word Forward but because I used to have trouble seeing the forest for the trees when I was writing my résumé. This is true about any writing endeavor and probably any artistic pursuit. Michelangelo likely had the vision of the Sistine Chapel in his mind, but it must be seen from the floor in order to appreciate the full beauty.
Your reviewer doesn't have to be a professional. I recommend finding a friend or family member with a teenage child and ask them to read over your résumé. For 90% of jobs, keeping the résumé simple makes more of an impact than over complicating it with big words. If someone in their early to mid teen years can understand your résumé AND repeat back to you what they read, chances are you are pretty close to the mark.
Do it in Chunks
Putting together can be a daunting task, especially when you don’t have a job and are trying desperately to land work. My last piece of advice is not to try and put together your full résumé all in one sitting. Just like any good writing, you should take some time to set down your outline. Start with just a list of your jobs and education. Once you have that framework in place, start filling in the details.
Give yourself a solid goal, perhaps one week to finish updating your résumé, and work on it a little bit every day. You’re not cramming for a test, you’re setting up your résumé to help you get a better job and improve your life. Make every second that you put into this effort count.
If you still have more questions about how to write your résumé, leave a note in the comments section or email me.
Is any of this easy? Not really. But keep in mind that you may end up working at your new job for many years. You want to make sure that it’s a positive experience and that you’re not the one posting rants on Facebook once a week because you’ve had “another one of those days.”
By checking things out ahead of time, you will know if the company is a good fit for you.
I have mentioned in at least one previous post that the days of cookie cutter résumés are gone. With most big companies doing their initial hiring online, computers are doing much of the initial grunt work sorting through résumés submitted online, the use of keywords is becoming increasingly important. But what about when your résumé gets in front of a human?
Once you've passed the computers, it ultimately comes down to another human reading your résumé and feeling like you would be a good fit for the job they are trying to fill before evening meeting you. How can you do that? Be unique!
Having something unique to pique someone’s interest is key to getting noticed, but you also have to make sure that you’re qualified for the job and can contribute something to the position. That means making your résumé fit the job. A teacher applying for a position as a team manager could focus on her experience training people and working with very diverse groups. A former police officer applying for a position as a quality control operator on an assembly line could point to experience making split second decisions.
It simply comes down to two things:
Promote your unique abilities
Focus each résumé submission on the specific job you are applying for
With both of these in place, you will not be wasting the recruiter’s time looking at résumés that may not fit the position.
I am curious to hear from you what kinds of tweaks you make to your résumé when you are applying for jobs. Post in the comments below.
I have been working for the last few weeks trying to get the word out about Best Word Forward and I came across something that astounded me. I found a website called ProfileTree which allows people or business to post their services. I quickly took advantage of this opportunity to get some more exposure for Best Word Forward.
Once I had posted my information, I browsed around the site for a bit to see where my postings landed when someone searched for them. I found a few people posting writing services where they would write articles for a small fee. The only problem with these posts that offered writing services was that each one had misspelled words and absolutely terrible grammar. Granted, when you’re working with 30-70 characters, grammar can tend to take a back seat to simply getting your point across. However, if you’re advertising writing services, you probably want to make sure the writing in your advertisement, follows the basic norms of the language you’re writing in.
Now, if I am to believe the images that went along with these pictures, the people posting these ads were likely from foreign countries and not native English speakers. This does not excuse them from having to use the English language correctly if they are advertising to do so. I would compare this to a graphic designer advertising her services with something drawn in crayon on the back of a napkin or a company that makes fine stationary advertising on a piece of ripped up cardboard.
With all of the noise in the world today, it’s hard to get noticed and I’m worried that these people might get noticed simply because of their silly mix-ups and I might get skipped over because I seem to know what I’m talking about. I hope that’s not the case, but the fact that these advertisements are allowed to remain on the sight with their glaring errors, frustrates me to no end. Perhaps I should offer my services to these people and help them become better writers and in turn spread that around the world.
Please let me know if you would hire these people to write for you. Maybe I’ll have to rethink my advertising strategy.
Almost ten years ago, I encountered a situation where I had two companies offer me jobs at the same time. I was in a situation in my life where I was able to actually start working both jobs before making a decision which one I should keep. I know I made the correct decision all that time ago. The job that I choose to keep allowed me to meet wonderful mentors and leaders across many levels of the business (and others), grow my skills in many areas, and generally put me in a much better position than I think I would have been with the other job. For that I am eternally grateful.
Obviously, most people in this situation would not have that luxury so it becomes harder to figure out which direction to go. If you do find yourself in this predicament, first of all, congratulations! Secondly, check out James Caan’s piece on LinkedIn yesterday for some thoughts on how to make the best decision for you.
Sometimes, one of the best ways to learn how to do something well is to practice it over and over again. Other times, the best way is to read about how others have done it successfully and try to emulate that.
In looking at how to interview, I posted a link to an article the other day that listed things you must never do and things you must do in an interview. This could certainly help you out if you’re prepping for a big interview, but what if you got to look at it from the other side of the table.
If you have had a chance to conduct interviews in your past, you can probably remember some interviews that were great and what you liked about them. But if you've never interviewed people, maybe you don’t know what interviewers truly look for when they speak with a candidate. You may think you know, but how can you be absolutely sure? Try this great resource for finding out what is in the minds of interviewers.
Image Credit: Billy Alexander via sxc.hu
I posted a few weeks back about preparing for an interview and wanted to offer a bit more insight here on that topic. My main point here is to make sure that you are prepared to answer any question that the interviewers will throw at you. Of course we can’t predict every question, but I’ve listed some samples of popular questions below along with explanations of what interviewers are often looking for when they ask them.
Jonathan Ytreberg is the owner of Best Word Forward, committed to providing the best resume advice and services to clients around the globe.