Founder of Virtus Career Consulting, speaker and author of the career empowerment book
Have you applied for a job you really wanted lately, only to be greeted with the disappointing sound of silence from the employer? If you’re applying for jobs you’re qualified to do and not getting anywhere, a fresh look at your resume is in order.
First, it’s important to emphasize the bulk of resume advice is simply opinion and preference. My resume advice is no different. Job seekers often experience frustration when they have three people review their resume because they receive three different opinions (e.g. Your resume should be one page. Your resume should only be two pages. Your resume should only list ten years of work history). And on and on it goes.
I’m going to share excerpts of one of the resume templates I use that’s provided great success for many job seekers. I like to share my tools with people because of my amazing mother, Judi, raised me to have an attitude of abundance. Give, and it shall be given unto you.
Keep in mind, different types of roles may call for different types of templates, and some people should use a functional resume instead of a chronological resume. You can do a search on these terms, but, in a nutshell, functional resumes are used when you have gaps in employment, or you’re trying to break into a new field. Chronological resumes are used for people progressing in their chosen field.
The first thing you need to do is create a master resume. A master resume contains everything: all your work history, professional accomplishments, strengths, awards, certifications, education, volunteer work, publications, memberships, training, etc.
When you apply for a specific role, you’ll take elements from the master and tailor a new version of your resume to the opportunity you’re applying for. You’ll want to incorporate the requirements they’re seeking (that are true of you), and your results, skills, and strengths that are most related to the job. Yes, you should tailor a resume to every job you apply for!
Let’s start with the header of your resume. The header is so important because many people don’t read resumes, they skim them.
You’re probably wondering a few things:
Where’s the address?
I never put an address on my client’s resumes because of privacy concerns in these days of technology and, well, Google Earth. Also, you don’t want people tossing your resume assuming you live too far from the job.
What about an objective statement?
Sometimes I do use objective statements. It depends. One reason to use an objective statement is when you’re trying to relocate, or transition to a new field. It helps keep people from pigeon-holing you into the city, or career, you’re trying to flee.
However, you should never use a generic objective statement, because it doesn’t add any value. Example:
“Seeking a progressive organization where I can use my skills to contribute to an inventive culture and continue to grow in my career.”
If you use an objective statement it needs to be specific to the role and emphasize the value you will bring the employer:
“Seeking to serve as an associate photo editor, offering extensive knowledge of digital and film photography and graphic design to contribute to high-quality publications.”
A few tips on the header:
- Your email address should contain your first and last name. It’s professional, it reinforces your name, and it’s easy to remember. If your email firstname.lastname@example.org, you should set up a free web email account, such as Gmail, or Yahoo, for your job search. If you have a common name email@example.com is already taken, you can try adam.smith, adam_smith, adam.g.smith, or adam_smith71.
- The Career Profile should be a summary of who you are as a professional. If a manager had nothing else but this paragraph, he/she should be able to tell what your role is, and what your key strengths are.
- [Update: Big thanks to Susan Osborn for mentioning the LinkedIn profile link in the header, which I’d mistakenly omitted from my screenshot!]
Here’s another example that clearly illustrates a candidate’s background:
Let’s move on to the Professional Experience section.
The critical tip on your experience section is to list results. If you simply list responsibilities, and you’re an accountant, your resume will look like every other accountant. It may even look worse if they’ve included results.
For example, instead of this:
- Responsible for reviewing and reconciling vendor invoices
- Excellent investigative and financial skill led to prevention of $100,000 in annual vendor over-payment
Results. Results. Results.
Other sections you may wish to include in your resume, beneath work experience:
- Volunteer and Community
There are so many resume tips, I simply can’t include them here without turning this article into a manual. However, I will leave you with one more tip:
Have two fussy and detailed-oriented people proof-read your resume to verify it is error-free. Your resume must be free of grammatical and spelling errors.
Please share your resume tips (e.g. don’t put “References available on request” on your resume) with readers in the comments to increase the value of this post.
All the best to you!