As a search consultant I spend much of my day reading resumes. I have a methodical approach to assessing a candidate’s skills, abilities and character – some are easier than others. Hiring managers on the other hand do not spend 6 hours a day reading resumes, so your challenge is to make it easy for them to grasp who you are and what you have to offer them. Regardless of whether you’ve been looking for a new position for months or have just decided to launch a search, here are some easy adjustments you can make to help you stand out from the crowd:
Give it a title
Give your resume a title – this is the best way to help the reader understand the role you are looking for. If you are applying to a specific position, then title your resume accordingly. For instance, let’s say you are a Project Manager. Your resume title will be “Project Manager.” Now you need to send your resume to a company who is looking for a Technical Project Manager, change the title on this particular resume to read “Technical Project Manager.” This minor change helps the reader consume your resume in the context of a particular role within their organization.
Summarize your professional value
Unless you are an entry level college graduate, objectives are useless. As an experienced professional you should replace the objective statement with a 2-3 sentence summary of your professional value. Make this statement interesting, and infuse some personality into
it. Let the reader get to know a little about you as a person. Please don’t use a bunch of ‘resume’ words that you don’t use in daily communication – it makes you sound mechanical.
Highlight your skills and accomplishments
If the reason you will be hired by a company is based on your technical skills, summarize them in the first half of the first page of your resume. This new section called “Technical Qualifications” will make it easy for the reader to scan your skills for a match with their needs. Furthermore, he will continue reading to gain more insight based on your summary and skills section. If you are a manager or executive, whose value proposition is based on outcomes you’ve produced your highlight section might be titled “Key Accomplishments.” DO NOT list a bunch of skills that everyone who does what you do possesses. Instead, differential yourself by including 4 or 5 bullets of specific home runs you’ve scored in your professional history. This is more interesting to read, helps you stand out, and engages the reader – maybe even onto page 2 of your resume!
Do not attach a cover letter
When I receive a resume either unsolicited or in response to a position I will read the introductory email – if there is one – and open the resume. I will not open a second attachment. Furthermore, when resumes go into my database, the cover letter is not included. So, if you want to introduce yourself to a hiring manager then your cover letter is a simple email with your resume attached. Make it personal, interesting and let the hiring manager know you’ll be following up to discuss the position in detail (interview).
NEVER more than 2 pages
Keep this in mind. A resume is a brief overview of your career experience. This document
provides a high level commentary of the work you’ve done. It is not intended to be a professional biography and detail every project you’ve been involved in since you were
twelve. A resume should never exceed 2 pages – if it does then you are not communicating effectively – which, by the way, is one of the core qualifications for virtually every position in every industry. Think about the hiring manager – what 3 or 4 bullets are most important to him? What have you done in each position that will articulate your value proposition for your upcoming role?
Often just a few minor adjustments make a huge difference in helping you be noticed by potential employers. Your objective is to stand apart from your competition. Do this by making it easy for a hiring manager to see who you are and how you can add value today.
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