The Truth About Writing a Great Resume
There are countless opinions, blog posts, books, fish stories, courses, webinars, and hashtags about resumes that will tell you, definitively, about writing a great resume. Most of them make recommendations that conflict with each other. It can be overwhelming.
As a hiring manager, I’ve received and reviewed just about as many variations in format, style, content, and delivery as there are available resources for advice. Yes, this has included receiving a resume tied to a box of homemade cookies. And even getting a resume with scented paper. No, neither of these helped the candidate.
Getting Help With Your Resume
Should you look for as much help as you can? Absolutely. Should you think that anyone has a definitive way to crack the code? No, there is not one. Use the advice that works for you. The advice you use is what feels comfortable for you and the job you are seeking. If it resonates as an authentic and positive way to present yourself and your skills then it is right for you. If not, move on.
That said, here are some holistic, common-sense guidelines to consider in the overall process of developing and delivering your resume to potential employers.
- Recruiters will take an average of 7.4 seconds to look at your resume before moving to the next one – make them count.
Don’t make the reviewer waste that time trying to piece together your story. Where are you working? What are your skills? What do you want to do? Why are you looking? Make it easy for them to tell so that they can start thinking about whether you would be a fit by getting into the details. You can use a summary sentence Examples:
- CPG sales manager with a track record of growing teams and improving profitability
- SaaS product manager with experience managing multi-functional teams from development through incremental improvement.
- Recent engineering grad with strong quantitative and qualitative analytic skills seeking an entry-level role in data warehousing
Resume Style and Format
There’s no perfect font, format, style, or layout. Just try to make sure the most important information stands out: bold your most relevant skills, experience, GPA, etc.
Don’t stray too far from the traditional format- the value in it is that reviewers know where to look for what. If you’re creative, be creative. But make sure the vital information is easily available.
Reviewers like numbers on a resume. They don’t have to be exact numbers; they just need to indicate the order of magnitude. If you managed a team, was it closer to 5 or 50?
If you had a P&L, was about $10k or around $100k? Whenever you can, add the number of fields in the database you manipulated, the number of SKUs in the inventory you managed, or the number of times per night the tables turned over in the restaurant where you worked. If you think about it, you can find those numbers that reflect either quality, quantity, or throughput that can really catch a reviewer’s eye.
Your Resume and LinkedIn
Your resume needs to match your LinkedIn profile as closely as possible. LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to add a longer summary of what you are looking for and what skills/value you bring to the table. Use it. For ideas, read the summaries of people in the job you want or people you know who have done well recruiting in the past.
Yes, you must keep it to one page for at least the first eight to 10 years of your career. And don’t spend much space on things that you did 10+ years ago- it doesn’t matter a lot.
Most importantly, when you get to the point where you are toying with font sizes and word-smithing small items, STOP. No one got a job sitting behind their desk. Time to stop tinkering with the resume and start using it.
This guest post was authored by Amy Feind Reeves
Amy Feind Reeves is the Founder and CEO of JobCoachAmy. She leverages her 25+ years of experience as an executive and hiring manager to help professionals at all levels of their careers find and keep jobs that make them happy. Her corporate consulting practice focuses on career coaching for Millennials and Generation Z. Amy also offers consulting on practical approaches to implementing improved Millennial and Generation Z management practices. As a career coach, Amy helps her clients explore and define their career paths.
Ms. Career Girl strives to provide valuable insights you can use. To see more from our columnists and guest authors, check these out! Or subscribe to our weekly email featuring our latest articles. We’re also present on Medium!