How do I cram 20 years worth of work onto two pages? I value being humble and don’t want to come off as arrogant with my work? Should my skills and experience go at the top? What if I don’t have a degree? I don’t have that much work experience, what do I do? Does the format matter?
These are just some of the questions I hear when working with people on their resumes. And I get it, it can be super hard to condense things down when our professional lives are usually chocked full of too many daily tasks. Thankfully there are some pretty simple guidelines to follow that can help you start this process. I came up with the below list as these are the most common mistakes I see and though it would be helpful to share! For more detailed advice please don’t hesitate to contact me!
- Tailor your resume to each specific job you are looking at. People in HR see thousands of resumes, if they have to dig for your skills you are going to be rejected. You want to draw the shortest possible line between your experience and the job you are trying to get.
- Make sure the language of the job description is used in your resume. E.G.- If they list specific responsibilities or preferred qualifications, and you fit them, highlight that directly.
- Make your resume short enough to be digestible (1-2 pages)
- If you add an “other relevant skills” section make sure it is still speaking to the job or is universally useful. Other languages, medical certifications, publications, patents, a memorable unique skill. Those are great. Things like “great communicator and avid hiker” are not as useful.
- Use data – if you have something measurable to prove you can do a job say it. This doesn’t have to be complicated either, if you have managed budgets say the amounts, if you have trained faculty how many people annually, things like that are helpful context.
- Meet most of the minimum qualifications they are looking for. Resumes can be screened out by not meeting them.
- Don’t spend time/space explaining the nature of the company you work for, what it does, the company goals, etc…. Instead focus on your skills and experiences.
- Don’t lie. Don’t say you created something that in reality took a whole team. That’s usually pretty obvious.
- Don’t narrow your resume by using industry specific jargon. Do use your proper title, but education vs. tech vs. government vs. finance vs. health – all have slightly different ways they qualify employees. Research this, it will also help you apply for jobs you might have a shot at getting.
- Don’t go back too far in your job history or have it be too random. This depends on age but you basically want 10 +/- years of relevant work experience highlighted. Not your total life’s work.
** Last 2 Tips: Don’t limit yourself to an industry. If you have worked in media production you might not think health or tech companies would look for that but they do. If you need a job, don’t apply for 5, apply for 50 across all fields. You might find something really unique.
Best of luck!