Writing a resume can be a dreadful undertaking.
But like a root canal … the longer you delay … the more painful it will be.
Not to mention, not having either of them done when needed … can end up costing you a whole lot of money!
Over more than a decade as a HeadHunter … I’ve seen my fair share of resumes.
From the most basic Microsoft template, (which still makes me cringe) to visual masterpieces, created in Photoshop.
The former screams “I don’t care about my resume.” The latter, while pretty … is generally rather confusing to digest.
When working with a HeadHunter … your resume is really secondary in importance.
More often than not, it’s the relationship your HeadHunter has with their client that will get you the interview.
That said … I believe in controlling the things you can control … and your resume is one of those things!
Starting from the top, this should be very simple … yet you’d be surprised how many people get it wrong.
First Line: Full Name (skip the nicknames)
Second Line: Full Address, Cell Number, Email Address, Social Media Links
Some people choose to leave their address out ‘for security reasons’.
This may sound reasonable in a paranoid world … but all this does is raise unnecessary questions in the reader’s mind.
What is this person hiding? Do they live 100km away from where this job is located?
They might … so, “I’ll just take a pass and move on to the next resume”.
“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
For the most part, Objective statements sound like this; ‘To join an organization where I can prosper, grow and contribute to the goals of an organization … blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda …’
No one cares about your objective … and you hate having to write one!
Callous as it sounds, companies don’t care what you want … they care about what you have to offer.
Do your resume a favour and replace your Objective with a Summary of Qualifications.
Your Summary of Qualifications should be 3 or 4 bullets long, … clearly outlining your experience.
Treat each bullet like a Twitter post; no longer than one line – and choose your words carefully!
14 years’ sales experience in progressive roles, from field sales, to national accounts, to management
Experienced in; supply chain, air and express delivery services, freight rail and truck transport
Experienced in; strategic, hunter-type sales, senior level account penetration and client retention
The body of the resume is generally where things get really ugly.
Don’t over complicate things and always go with chronological order – starting with the most recent role.
1. List the companies you worked for, position(s) you held, and dates you were in each role.
2. List only the primary responsibilities of each position.
3. List your achievements (awards / recognition).
Let me break it down;
Listing the companies and the title(s) you held is pretty basic – just be sure to include the city.
When it comes to your tenure … list the dates in Month, Year format.
Any attempt to conceal facts will only delay the inevitable.
For example, using a date range of 2011 – 2012, when you were employed from December 2011 to January 2012 … is not advisable.
Your career ‘is what it is’ … and if a client will be turned off by a 2 month stint … it’s better to know this up front rather than waste your time going to an interview, only to divulge the details there.
You’ll also want to provide an extremely brief ‘blurb’ of what the company actually did.
Don’t assume the reader will know of the company or what they do.
When it comes to your responsibilities, do not ‘copy & paste’ the HR job description … along with its 20 bulleted (and monotonous) points.
Seriously … no one wants to read that.
Summarize your responsibilities in about 5 bulleted points.
In relatively basic terms … explain what your primary functions were in the role.
If you were a sales professional … explain what you sold and some notable companies you landed!
If you were in Inside Sales … or Field Sales … or National Accounts … say it.
Explain what your territory or vertical market was worth – these details matter.
Bar none … this is the most important part of your resume.
We’ve all worked on sales teams with superstars and bottom dwellers.
While everyone on the team had the exact same responsibilities … what separated the best from the worst was their achievements!
This section is no place to practice modesty.
The more details you can provide … the more desirable you will be.
President’s Club? Circle of Excellence? Ring Club?
And, while metrics are key … context is critical!
Stating you were 117.3% of target without referencing the dollar amount is a hollow achievement.
What if your closes were $10,000 in total?
Similarly … posting that you closed $1.55 million dollars … without referencing your target is equally poor.
What if your quota was $3 million dollars?
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Trust me … be extremely precise about your education.
List the school, the degree or diploma you received and the year you graduated.
If you didn’t graduate … clearly state – NOT COMPLETED.
I can’t tell you how many times this section of the resume has ruined a job offer.
Excuses have included; “I was just a credit short” or “I graduated but didn’t return a library book”.
It’s 2017 … every company checks education, and any discrepancy will end the dance … quick.
As for Training … list the courses you’ve completed and the respective dates.
If you haven’t partaken in any professional development … you probably should!
ODDS & ENDS
Focus on your last 3 or 4 roles … (from a timeline perspective … you’re looking at the last decade, or so).
Be sure to provide your entire career history … but line items for old roles is perfectly acceptable.
Simply list the company, position title and dates of employment … and obviously … notable achievements!
Be careful when it comes to obscure acronyms or company specific lingo.
Don’t assume the reader of your resume is familiar with what things mean.
Don’t state ‘MBA Candidate’ with an expected graduation date that’s 3 or 4 years down the road.
To be honest … I could probably write a book about writing a resume … but at this point, I’ll leave it at this.
As I see it … be it your resume or a root canal … you have 2 choices.
1. Ignore it … (only delaying the inevitable.)
2. Take a deep breath, schedule some time … and just ‘get ‘er done’.
Mark Krpan, with over a decade of experience, owns Match and Fable Headhunters and reviewed thousands of resumes.