Writing the perfect resume begins with ensuring that it’s built on a few core foundational principles of resume writing.
Over the course of the last 5 years my team and I have provided resume writing services to over 2,500 clients.
We have held a 5-star customer review rating for 96% of that time (it dropped to 4.7 for a little while). Most of our clients are highly demanding executives and senior managers with complex work histories.
All of this means that writing perfect resumes is something that the Arielle team does every day. It’s our bread and butter – and today I’d like to share some of our ‘insider’ resume writing tips with the aim of helping you improve your current resume.
(Bonus Read: How To Write A Standout Resume: New Rules Of Resume Writing).
As I pointed out, most people are unable to write the perfect resume because they don’t follow the 5 foundational rules of resume writing.
Are you neglecting these rules as well? Let’s find out.
1. DON’T BURY THE LEDE.
Hiding the most newsworthy part of a story is bad journalism. With your resume, it’s no different.
Obscuring the key features of your skills, background and accomplishments in your resume amounts to sloppy personal branding.
Ensure that your resume’s Professional Profile section clearly articulates your Unique Value Proposition (USP). This value proposition must weave your career into a cohesive story that aligns with your targeted direction in the strongest way possible.
(Bonus Read: Ultimate List Of Resume Mistakes).
2. DON’T COVER UP CAREER GAPS.
Calling yourself a “consultant” to cover up a gap in your work history is a huge red flag. Especially if you use vague descriptions with nary a client name or project detail in sight.
If indeed you’ve been a sole trader, freelancer or independent consultant, be sure to provide specific details such as:
- clients you have worked with
- duration and scope of engagements
- duration and scope of engagements
- responsibilities associated with building a business and finding clients.
Dates are critical to set recruiters’ minds at ease. Not just for work experience, but for any qualifications or education that might be relevant to the position you’re applying for.
3. DON’T LOOK LIKE YOU’RE TRAPPED IN 1995.
Hello, it’s 2017.
Which means – it’s quite likely that your resume will never be printed when it reaches its destination.
To write the perfect resume for the modern times forget designing for the heavy paper stock. Format and design for a computer screen instead.
And, while you’re at it, lose the Hotmail address and the home phone number.
Replace those with a personal website URL and email which – ideally – feature your name in the URL (e.g., email@example.com). It’s a sure sign that you take your personal brand – and your work – seriously.
4. TARGET. TARGET. TARGET.
The recruiter for that CMO role you want shouldn’t have to slog through your Director of Business Strategy resume. And nor will they.
A recruiter gives each resumes an average of 6 seconds of attention. So don’t blow it and forget who your target audience is.
Showing up as the slacker who didn’t have time to tailor their resume is bad for your chances of being taken seriously and your brand reputation.
(Bonus Read: Should You Include Your Date Of Birth On Your Resume?)
While you don’t need to rewrite your entire resume for every role, you do need to consider what’s important for each. Consider creating several versions of your resume and fine-tune bullet points, key skills, assets, and keywords to make each one fit-for-purpose.
5. DON’T TELL THE WHOLE STORY IN ONE SHOT.
If you were going to introduce someone to Prince for the first time, you’d be in a quandary. He released over 600 songs – more than most artists in the history of music.
So you’d probably default to The Very Best of Prince.
If you’re an experienced professional, your resume strategy should be no different.
My team typically details between 3 and 6 of the most recent and relevant roles from the past 10 to 15 years, listing earlier career history in a summary section that includes titles, organisations, and tenure.
We also take the ‘Russian Doll’ approach. This means we give your more recent roles the most coveted resume real estate, versus those further back in time.
IT’S YOUR TURN TO WRITE THE PERFECT RESUME.
You and your career are a dynamic story that’s always evolving. That becomes more interesting and intricate with each year, role and professional win that comes and goes.
If I were one of those painfully generic professional resume writers, I might sum this the key point of this article with a tired old adage like ”you can write the perfect resume by telling, not selling.”
But since we’re all originals here, I’ll close with a Hopi proverb:
“Those who tell the stories rule the world.”