Personality. Create some energy in your resume by using a few adjectives. This can be a difficult one, but remember that resumes for the most part are boring. Unless you are a crocodile hunter, rock star, or Indian Jones…they just are.
Accomplishments: Don’t just list where you worked, but focus on key accomplishments within the various roles you have had. Where possible provide data points, that demonstrate the size/ scope of your accomplishments on behalf of the companies you’ve worked for (ie: size/ dollar value of project you worked on or managed; how many clients did you land; amount of business you brought in in dollars or %, etc). Remember that employers are looking at your past performance as indication of what you might be able to accomplish on their behalf as well.
Peter Drucker once said, that the average employee is worth a minimum of 5X their salary, to their employer. Therefore, demonstrate in your job search process how you brought specific value to your employers, AND focus in on the accomplishments that are going to be of greatest interest to the company you are now interviewing with.
FAB sheet preparation: In my opinion, creating a FAB sheet on yourself is far more important, and should precede the creation of the resume or cover letter itself. Once you have completed the FAB, your resumes and cover letters, and the job search itself will come much more naturally, be more targeted, and with a far higher degree of success. (I think I have written a description on how to create a FAB sheet in an earlier Quora answer).
Don’t be flashy: Unless you are interviewing for a graphic design type or extremely artistic type of position, its best to go with white paper, and don’t get overly creative on fonts, etc. Just stick to the basic facts, and hiring authorities will appreciate you for it.
1-2 Percent: Keep in mind that your resume, is AT BEST, 1-2% of your job search process. It’s not the most important piece of the process by a long-shot. Its just the default tool that everyone turns to, thinking it will land them their next position. In truth, it generally won’t. It is important & critical to have, but overall, the resume a dinosaur technology for job search, and should be kept in perspective of the larger process.
Indicate where you’ve worked and enable people to contact your previous employers. They’ll likely not, but it demonstrates confidence. Can you include a couple of big names, or pieces of work you’ve done that have been recognized? Although beware, recruiters often use this as a means of gleaning new contacts for their own business development – so be careful who you send it to, and make sure you ask permission.
- When to Send It
Put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter. They’ve posted an advertisement which has resulted in a flood of applications, each with a cover letter and resume. Do you want to be part of that flood, or arrive when the person has more time?
Even if they’re not hiring at the moment, catch them when they do have time – they’re more likely to remember you later during the flood. Send them a tweet or two if you think email is too much. The worst time to get noticed is when you’re desperate and they’re awash with people
- What do people look at?
Employers average about 30 seconds to 120 seconds per resume, looking at education, last position primarily before glancing elsewhere. Make it as easy as possible for people to find the information they need.
- What should accompany your resume?
Cover letters take an age and it’s very difficult to make yours any different to anyone else’s unless you go ape. I’d recommend using bullets and being very specific about where you can add value. Explain what you can do for them – an employer is much more interested in the solutions you can provide to their problems, rather than the solutions you provided for others. Tailor them to suit that employer and never, never copy and paste a whole cover letter from one application to another.
- Spellcheck, Spellcheck, Spellcheck
No matter how good the resume, if there are errors within, it goes to the bin. The same is true of grammar. If the person can’t be bothered to take the time to ensure their resume isn’t polished, what are they going to be like with the more important tasks the employer has?
You’ve been warned!
- Keep it Simple
My favourite resumes are always one or two pages, no longer. They say all that they need to in the fewest possible words. I’ve seen the resumes of amazing CEOs that are condensed into a single page. Less is more.
No-one cares about your 25m swimming badge, or the five paragraphs about how often you go to yoga unless, of course, it adds something to the resume that you haven’t already got across. People tend to want to work with people that a) they like and b) are like them, so check out the person receiving the resume on Linkedin, Twitter and elsewhere and see if you can adapt your resume to fit.
If in doubt, leave it out.