Today’s Resume is Not Your Father's Resume
If it’s been several years since you last conducted a job search, then you will find --- if you haven’t already --- that things have changed. The job search approach itself has changed, largely due to the growth of social networking sites such as LinkedIn and other online tools for job hunting. How you distribute a resume has changed dramatically over the years (from "snail" (postal) mailing to email to online delivery), so it’s reasonable to expect that how you develop one has evolved as well.
Here are ways to ensure your resume is keeping up with the times.
Keep it focused, with your eye on the prize
You don’t want to create an all-purpose resume that you send around to everyone, which was the practice several years ago. Hiring managers often receive hundreds of resumes for an open position, and they scan through them quickly. You want to make sure that your information is not only relevant and stands out, but is focused squarely on the company and the requirements of the job you are pursuing.
Keep it simple and easy to read
Unless you have years of experience you need to convey for an upper level position, keep your resume to one or two pages. Using simple language and short, bulleted phrases or lists rather than entire paragraphs will make it easier for hiring managers to conclude that you are a good candidate.
Truly market yourself – express your personal brand
Focus on what is unique about you and distinguishes you from others who would be competing for the same job, then make sure you communicate that clearly. It’s all about selling yourself. For more on this topic, see our article "Emphasizing your Personal Brand to Stand Out in the Job Market."
Include a summary of what you bring to the table, not your job search "objective"
Hiring managers want to know what you have to offer them and not what kind of job, position or responsibilities you are looking for. Instead of having an "Objective" at the top of your resume, have a "Summary of Qualifications", "Professional Summary" or a creative branding statement focusing on the position you are pursuing.
Convey results achieved, not just job responsibilities
Hiring managers want to know you are a go-getter. If you have hit a record sales mark, closed more accounts, obtained a large amount of media coverage, surpassed a fundraising goal or some other achievement, you need to make sure that is part of the descriptions you include on your current or previous jobs.
Include relevant life experiences and accomplishments
Your resume no longer has to stick to just your job experience and education. Including life experiences and accomplishments such as volunteering, spending time abroad with the Peace Corps, doing Outward Bound, or winning a cooking contest shows that you have skills that can be applied to the job and possess qualities that hiring managers look for, such as character, leadership and perseverance.
Make sure to use keywords
Many human resources departments and hiring managers use software tools to electronically scan and select resumes based on the words they contain that are relevant to the company and the position. Using the company’s job listing or description, make sure to incorporate those keywords into your summary or statement at the top of your resume and wherever appropriate in the body of your resume.
Use formatting to draw the hiring manager’s attention
Using subtle formatting techniques can help your resume stand out, look fresh and differentiate it from the typical plain "utilitarian" appearance that has been so common with resumes over the years. Use call-out boxes for your most important information, consider a two column resume, add a touch of color or use a creative but easy to read font for your header and sub-headings. Be careful about overdoing it, but if you’re in a creative industry, don’t be afraid to let your artistic flag fly.
One thing that has not changed about the resume is its place at the forefront of your job search. It’s highly important you put sufficient time, thought and energy into making it the best. You want to make sure that you never apply for a position without having a resume that meets the above criteria.
To ensure your resume is both professionally-written and aligned with the expectations of today’s hiring managers, consider using the assistance of our Professional Resume Writers.
Emphasizing Your Personal Brand to Stand Out in the Job Market
Going the Extra Mile to Capture a Prospective Employer's Attention
Using LinkedIn for Job Hunting