Whether you're actively looking or a happy camper, keeping your resume up to date is a great idea. The need for a resume when you're actively looking is painfully obvious, but if you're not looking keeping that document up to date helps remind you of your accomplishments -- and should you get a compelling call from someone like me it would be nice to be able to send it without any delay or giving up time budgeted for something fun.
It's important to first understand that while you write a resume to get an interview, the reader is looking at it from the opposite side of the fence -- they're trying to find a reason NOT to interview you. You write for inclusion, and it's read for exclusion.
Getting to inclusion means following a few simple rules:
- Include a city, state & zip -- readers need to know where you are and often times enter this info in their HRIS database
- Use simple fonts like Arial or Verdana and avoid serif fonts like Times New Roman; size must be 11 points or more -- remember readers are likely looking at a monitor that's over a foot away and not a hard copy that's easy to move closer to their eyes.
- Don't forget your personal email address and make sure it sounds professional (ilovegolf@ or ratherbesailing@ are not professional)
- Keep your opening short, make sure it can be read and easily understood in less than 8 seconds - it's your "elevator speech" (I'll cover this in another post soon!)
- Begin each job with 3-5 lines outlining your responsibilities -- quantify things like budgets, store count, sales volume and teams to show the breadth and scope of your position
- List accomplishments with the jobs where you achieved them not separately -- readers want to immediately associate your results with a brand & title
- Quantify everything -- $, %'s anything that can be measured is the sizzle you want to sell
- Avoid acronyms -- especially the ones that are unique to your current or previous employer
Complete sentences aren't necessary, but correct spelling is. Look for "they're" vs. "their" and the other things spell check might miss. Finish with your education and no more than three awards or similar accolades.
Here are a few things you don't want on your resume:
- References -- saves those for the big close
- Photographs -- save the white space and keep it clean & simple
- Graphics -- resumes aren't supposed to be pretty, avoid putting things in shaded boxes or horizontal lines that make the reader's eyes stop moving freely
- More than two colors of anything, the two colors you can use are black and white
- Avoid links other than your email address or LinkedIn Profile -- you don't want to loose the readers attention to you
- Keep it chronological -- show a steady progression with dates that are easy to follow
- Personal information -- height, weight, family matters and hobbies; none of these should effect your candidacy
For a more detailed discussion on what I consider to be The Perfect Resume, click here. If you hire a professional, expect to pay from $150 to $500 -- but avoid any "packages" that include more than just the resume. Another key point to consider when hiring someone else to write your resume is your ability to be the person on the paper. Sometimes writers will do a great job of extolling your virtues but if you can't live and breath that person gracefully you'll likely fail in the interview.
Keep it current with an annual update or anytime you've got a new accomplishment or promotion. One other very critical point is to be sure your resume matches your LinkedIn Profile exactly. Details and accomplishments aren't as important on LinkedIn but dates, titles, and chronology are.
Your resume is only one arrow in your quiver...stay tuned for more!