Resume tips – from the front lines
A quick Google search comes up with 2,920,000 entries for resume tips , with many results linked to even more sites. Some of the suggestions appear good, but many appear to us (and we work with resumes and job hunter’s day-in and out) as bad advice. For one thing, you run into many “resume factories” using cookie-cutter templates. Some of these factories are outside the U.S. and are not attuned to what’s going on in the market. Also, let’s be clear: one size does not fit all. A search for books on Amazon comes up with hundreds of books on resumes and job hunting. Some of these seem to be from people who never even looked for a job in their lifetime, except maybe in academia.
I have spent over 50 years in the Human Resources field. I have personally reviewed countless thousands of resumes, and my firm has helped thousands get jobs. Each year, AA-Careers has a booth at every Job Fair in the Santa Clara-San Jose area and we provide a FREE Resume Critique to thousands of people. The lines sometimes stretch outside of the show, and it is very common for there to be a one hour wait for assistance. After each show, our staff discusses how very few resumes really are done well.
Why read on? Our clients are having good success with job hunting campaigns, even in this economy. Here’s my perspective: different styles of resumes work in different areas of the country, and vary by career type and years of experience. But several things really help.
First of all, you need to understand that a resume is not a life story, it’s a marketing piece, and it’s your ad to get a hiring manager’s attention. Companies hire people if they feel they can either “make them money” or “save them money”, so naturally they want to know what skills you bring to the work place and how it will impact their business. We are firm believers in one page functional resumes. If necessary or required, use an addendum to provide an old-style historical resume.
The most important word on your resume is OBJECTIVE. It should be one that has a definite SIC code. Forget all the garbage about “A growth oriented company” or “One that will help me expand my knowledge” (go to school for that), or “offering opportunity for advancement” (not a lot of people will hire someone after their job).
Keep in mind that according to the Wall Street Journal, on any given day there are over 25,000,000 resumes out there in the ether, floating around looking for a place to settle. Today, because companies are so swamped with resumes, they often purchase software and scan your resume with an optical scanner, which “reads” your resume.
After the scanner – whether a person or machine – picks up the Objective, they then look for action words, or as colloquially referred, to, BUZZ WORDS. These buzzwords should be contained in an area called “Accomplishments”. Use them. Talk about your complete career – you are selling yourself, not a specific company or job. If possible after each accomplishment include “RESULTS” such as “received company award of 5000 shares of stock”, or “increased companies share of the market by 37%”, or “developed a product that increased the company’s one-year gross by over $7,750,000”. You have to make sure that your buzzwords cover all the areas of responsibility of that job (you can check the standard responsibilities for any job through the job’s SIC code).
The next area of your resume should be WORK HISTORY. Just include company name, your title, and years at the company. Usually 10 years are enough; never exceed 20 years.
Now finish off the resume with EDUCATION, school, degree. You might include additional training or certifications. Our suggestion: there should be nothing on your resume that is not aimed at the objective. Extraneous information can create a reason not to have you in for an interview.
The resume serves another role, too. Besides being your ad (to create interviews), it also sets the ground rules of what you will be asked at the job interview. Be prepared with the answers! Practice, practice and practice some more until you feel comfortable with your responses.
Lastly, a resume should not be set in stone. It continually needs to be tweaked, adjusted to each job you apply for, based on the company’s need and your accomplishments. And last but not least, don’t forget to use SPELL CHECK!