Let’s face it, nobody likes writing their own resume. Most people don’t even like to talk about themselves. Time and time again, I hear people who purchase my resume services say a similar thing to me. “I sat down to write my resume and I just didn’t know where to begin.”
The reason I believe this happens is because the good old resume is essentially a macro view of your career history and your experiences, whereas we live and breathe our careers at a micro level, amongst our daily struggles and triumphs.
This adds complexity to the process of having to write about yourself. Apart from needing a great deal of self-awareness and objectivity, you must prioritise your micro-level activities in order of importance, and shift your perception to view your resume from the eyes of the recruiter or hiring manager.
It’s easy to get caught up in the minor details, so often I see things on resumes which have no relevance to what the person has done or where they wish to head.
That’s why I decided to put together this list. If you’re trying to write your own resume, here’s how to think like a resume writer:
Focus On Achievements.
The thing is, you need to include some information about your responsibilities, even though achievements are the key. This is firstly to ensure that people reading your resume know that you’ve got the experience that they expect you to have. And secondly, to pass possible computer screening of your resume.
Truth be told, most people can ‘do’ their jobs, so this means that recruiters and hiring managers are interested in what you did above and beyond this i.e. your achievements. This shows that you not only did your job, but you did it well.
Obviously a promotion at this point comes in handy, because that is a sign that your manager was impressed by you, enough to pay you more money and to entrust you with more responsibility and an added level of accountability.
Apart from that, quantifying your achievements however, for example such as, “increased sales by X% over Y months by developing and implementing Z strategy” are also just as important. Be descriptive – it adds credibility, and is a lot more interesting to read than “selling to customers”.
Don’t waste space by listing 10 achievements – include the 5 that really stand out rather than adding 5 mediocre ones too. You never know which ones the reader will read, and you don’t want to have them not so impressed by what they’ve read, and potentially skip onto the next section, or next resume for that matter.
Tell Your Story.
But first you need to figure out what story to tell – and it’s not your life story. How you figure it out is by running through the following questions and statements:
- Where do you want to be in your career? What next step would you like to take?
- Scroll through your experiences, distilling all the little details that are congruent, relevant to and aligned with the role you would like to be in.
- Delete from your resume that which isn’t related to where you want to be, ensuring that you have still covered your bases with responsibilities that relate to what recruiters are looking for (see next bold heading). Focus on that which is applicable to the job that you want to be in right now (i.e. the job you’re applying for).
- Let someone who doesn’t know your experience intricately, read the resume you have written. Ensure your story makes sense to the casual observer. This step is checking that there are no questions around why you made various moves. One question left unanswered could mean a lost phone call or a lost opportunity.
Does Your Resume Pass Computer Screening?
Whilst you don’t want to stuff your resume full of keywords unnecessarily, it’s important to understand what keywords and phrases pertain to the job, ensuring they are clearly articulated in your resume.
This includes the hard skills, soft skills, qualifications, and industries, relevant to the role.
Write out the keywords that appear in job descriptions and job adverts, and check each role in your resume to ensure they’re present. One tip: try to make sure your resume doesn’t sound overly formulated or like you’ve copied the job description.
Keep A Little Mystery.
The purpose of your resume is to get recruiters or hiring managers to call you. You want to get them talking to you, and you want to keep them interested.
Aside having the communication skills to convert that phone call into an interview (but that’s another story), your resume must draw them in. It’s kind of like a first date. You want to keep them interested enough to hear more, only showing them the best you.
And don’t give everything away too soon! You want to leave something for the interview that will make them say “wow” when they meet you. Otherwise, without the ‘wow-factor’, you’re just another candidate that they’ve met (this reminds me of an awesome little video… Some Recruiter That I Used To Know).
Including EVERYTHING in your resume is a mistake, firstly because nobody has the patience to read through it all. Secondly, if you put everything on the Resume, there won’t be much for you to sell in the interview.