I review hundreds of resumes per week and spend additional time getting my clients’ resumes in tip-top shape for master’s programs and job applications. Here are my 10 recommendations:
- Quantify, quantify, quantify. I will sound like a broken record with this one. Numbers make a recruiter or hiring manager stop skimming and pay attention. Numbers provide context and show impact. Speaking of numbers…
- Update your resume regularly. Even if you aren’t looking for a job. Do you know how hard it is to remember how many interns you managed in the summer of 2012? Or by what % you increased revenue in FY2014? When you are completing your mid or end-of-year review, copy some of those great stats into your resume. It doesn’t have to be nicely formatted or worded, just get the content (and numbers) down on paper. Your 2019 self will thank you!
- So what? You are telling your story in bullet points. Sometimes, I read them and think, “so what?” Yes, you did a thing; but more importantly, did this thing have impact? Don’t forget to include that part. You analyzed something? Great. But what happened as a result? That’s what I really want to know.
- 1 page is enough. 15+ years into your career, I’ll cut you some slack. Otherwise, I promise, 1 is enough. If your bullet points are quantified and show impact, you can get all that great content on 1 page. 2 easy cuts?
- All of those characteristics (team player, driven, strong communication skills) that you list about yourself at the top of your resume. Honestly, I don’t read them. Let those things shine through in the bullet points, cover letter and in your interview. Who’s going to say they have poor communication skills anyway?
- Eliminate “a, an, the” from your bullet points.
- Don’t use 8-point font. My eyes hurt. And there are likely so many words on the page that I can’t figure out which end is up. So, I give up.
- Keep it simple people. Unless you are in a creative field, for me, simpler is better. Personally, I’m not a fan of graphics or complicated layouts. Don’t shoot the messenger.
- Include months. Otherwise, someone might think you are trying to hide a gap. P.S. Don’t hide a gap. But be prepared to address it.
- Frontload your bullets. I know you worked really hard on your resume. I do. But I’ll be honest, recruiters are skimming it. Tailor your first few bullets under each job to speak to the needs outlined in the job description (Wordle can help) and to highlight your greatest accomplishments. The recruiter may not make it to the last one.
- What’s in a name? Sometimes, it’s hard to understand what someone has done if they use a lot of industry jargon or if the company at which they worked is not well recognized. Consider adding a line that explains what the company does. If your industry jargon doesn’t translate to the next company or job, dumb it down for us so we can better understand what you did and how that translate to this new job.
- Tell me something personal. Especially if you are applying to an MBA program. Let’s be honest, it’s fun to learn about people. That’s why I’m in this business. If you are including a personal section at the bottom, draw me in. Top 3 things I see: cooking, travel and running. I love all of those things so I’m not telling you to find new hobbies. But spice it up. How about: pad thai fanatic, sea kayaking in the Baja, 3 Boston Marathons and counting. WAY more exciting, right?
Most of these are simple fixes that make tons of impact. Do it. Now. Need help? You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.