If you’re in a career transition, there’s a good chance you’ll need to update your resume. Maybe you’ve done this recently, or maybe you haven’t looked at it for 20 years. Either way, it can feel like a dreaded task. With so much online noise about how to improve your resume, I want to give you an overview of the basics to position yourself for career change success. I’m going to tackle the questions that I get asked the most. But read all the way through. They build to to the final one, which is the key.
Does Size Matter?
Not as much as you might think. Imagine your resume as part of a huge stack with hiring managers spending about 6 seconds on each one. Whether your resume is 1, 2 or a maximum of 3 pages long is not the critical point. It has to be easy to scan. That means using a clearly readable font and not crowding too much text on a page. Each section should be scaled to bitesized information that’s compelling and can stand on its own.
What to include and omit?
Resumes are not life stories. They are not even complete professional and educational experiences. THEY ARE A MARKETING DOCUMENT. Everything in your resume needs to be tailored with content that has a direct relationship to the job you’re seeking and the story you want to tell about why you’re the perfect candidate. Include relevant experiences and information that help build your case.
Do You Write in First or Third Person?
In 2016, most experts suggest first person, while avoiding the use of the pronoun “I.” This will require writing in clipped sentences. I suggest you don’t stress over this one. It won’t be the deal breaker or deal maker. Whichever way you decide to go, remember to be consistent.
Do You Need Fancy Formatting?
NO – that is with one exception, if you’re applying for a job directly related to some sort of graphic design. Other than that, keep your resume simple, easy on the eyes to read, with lots of white space on the page. Make use of bullet points to facilitate scrolling. Hyperlink to your Linkedin page.
Should Your Resume Start with an Objective or Summary Statement?
Hiring managers don’t care about your objective, only about what their organization needs. Unless you’re just starting out in the work force, there’s no reason to include an objective. On the other hand, a well-honed summary can improve your resume. Think of the summary as an elevator pitch (something you can say during the short duration of a non-stop elevator ride) with 2 to 3 well-honed sentences emphasizing your career highlights and strengths. What’s critical here is that you’ve researched your potential employers and understand the most important attributes of the position they’re trying to fill. This needs to be echoed in your summary.
How to Improve Your Resume by Answering One Question
You’ve probably heard that it’s important to include strong action verbs in your resume. And that’s true. It’s also good to add metrics whenever possible. You’ll want to quantify your accomplishments, so you’re not speaking in vague platitudes. But here’s the most essential question to ask yourself to improve your resume. What difference did you make on the job? In other words, how did the company grow, improve, change for the better during your tenure? Spend time on this question. It’s the most critical part of your story that you’ll want to hone and share.
If you’d like personal feedback on your resume, LET’S TALK.
And if you’re trying to figure out how to take your first step, click below for my action plan to jumpstart your career change: