Friday was my last day working for awhile. I don’t write about work much, but today, before all of this knowledge leaves me and my brain turns into an endless loop of feeding and changing cycles again, I want to share what I’ve learned for those of you seeking jobs. For the past six and a half years, I have worked in HR with an emphasis in recruiting. When writing this, it became rather long, so I have actually broken it into three segments. Check back tomorrow and Wednesday for the final two segments – interviewing and networking/searching.
Perfect your resume
This is most likely how you will land your next job. Pour over this document and make it as close to perfect as possible. Most recruiters will never meet you, but instead will judge you on this document. Make it work for you.
- List at least your past three positions – titles held, companies worked for, dates employed (with months please: don’t write 2012-2012) and a bulleted list of your primary responsibilities. I keep each bullet point one line or less. Remember, these are bullets, not paragraphs. Clear and concise communication goes a long way on a resume.
- List your education clearly identifying the highest degree you’ve received on top to lower degrees below. It is not necessary to list a HS diploma if you have a Bachelor’s degree. It is also not necessary to list any one-day seminar you’ve attended or expired certification that you don’t plan to renew.
- I try to combine my skills and experience in the bullet points under the jobs I’ve held for brevity sake, but when that’s not possible, make sure to include any skills that are pertinent to the type of job you’re looking for. So, not every skill you have, just the skills that would be required in your targeted job field. This includes computer programs that you’re proficient in. This section is for hard skills only. There is no need to list things like, “motivated” or “punctual.” Your resume should be like the back of a sports trading card – it lists your stats but doesn’t include your autobiography.
- Include industry key words – when recruiters are sifting through resumes, they will often use targeted key word searches so make sure to include those in your resume. That means using standard language rather than creative language sometimes. You want what you’re saying to be easily interpreted by the person reading it so don’t try to get too cutesy. Again, include these in your bullet points when possible.
- Use active words to describe the work you did – ie: “analyzed” instead of “provided analysis on.” This is just Basic Writing 101.
- Spell check and grammar check. And not just with your computer – have other people look it over. If you know anyone in HR, have them look it over for you and be prepared to take some criticism and redo much of it. I can not stress enough how many resumes I’ve seen with glaring typos and errors. That’s all it takes to end up in the slush pile. Remember, recruiters work by funneling down to the best candidate – so don’t create reasons for them to funnel you out before they even meet you.
- Did I mention brevity? Did I mention the back of a sports card? If your resume is more than two pages, edit it down (with one page being ideal). Your resume is just as much about what you don’t say as about what you do say. Some things are best explained in an interview setting, not on your resume. So don’t give recruiters reason to disregard you by putting that your interests include Live Action Role Play and your typing speed is 20 WPM or that you were terminated from your last job because your boss was sexist. Also, a job you held in 1981 is probably no longer relevant to the job you’re seeking. So cut off your resume before it becomes a history book.