I’ve been seeing a lot of crappy resumes lately, many coming from so-called “professionals.” At first I thought these were anomalies. But I have seen so many lately that I can’t possibly keep quiet. So instead of being the passive aggressive, quietly seething, HR Pro, I am going to provide job seekers with some resume advice…warning rant ahead!
1. Use a cover letter to inject some personality into your resume. Explain why you are a fit for the job, why you want to work there, it doesn’t have to be an 800 word missive but it is a nice way to get a feel for your experience and personality. Without one I may still call you but a nicely worded letter gives you a bit of a leg up.
2. Tailor your cover letter to the job and the company. If your cover letter says you are interested in joining Macy’s but the position you applied for is at Dillard’s, your candidacy is already sunk. I feel so strongly about this that I would say if you don’t have time to write a tailored cover letter, just skip it.
3. Spend some time on your resume - I’m not kidding here. Seriously, get to know your resume. Have multiple people review it. You do not want a single mistake on your resume. Are your bullet points lined up? Are you using the same font throughout? I realize this may sound nitpicky but your resume is my first impression of your work. If it’s sloppy and riddled with mistakes I assume that is the kind of employee you will be.
4. Have a LinkedIn profile…please, please, have a LinkedIn profile. I’m begging you…do I have to repeat that? When I search for a candidate and don’t see a LinkedIn profile I think two thoughts: a.) They aren’t really serious about finding a job or b.) They are a Luddite who doesn’t think LinkedIn is necessary. You may or may not find a job through LinkedIn but it is one more place to get your name out there and in a pool of searchable professionals. Also, you can add relevant information to your LinkedIn profile that is not on your resume.
5. If you are looking to move into a different field, you have a tough (but not impossible) job which means you need to work even harder. You need to utilize all means available to demonstrate that you can be good at your new field. This includes things like a customized cover letter explaining why you are looking to move out of your current field. It also means you should probably have some on-the-side experience (volunteering, blogging, etc. in the field you want to move into. Make sure to place this info in your resume and cover letter.
Finally, please impress me. I realize that your resume is not a fair or accurate display of who you are. It is a flat piece of paper that can in no way demonstrate the value you contribute to your current or previous employers. Unfortunately though, until someone comes up with a better method I have to work off your resume. This flat piece of paper is your foot in the door.
So that is why I say “Impress Me!” I don’t want to see another bland resume extolling your virtues of coming to work on time and getting your filing done. That doesn’t make you stand out. I already assume you can get to work on time and do your assigned duties. Instead, tell me about how you revolutionized the filing process at your work. How you got a 2 year backlog caught up, and do it with a resume that doesn’t have grammar, usage or formatting errors. You are asking me to take a risk and hire you, please do me the favor of putting your best work in front of me.
Looking for some good resume and job search advice? Not sure where to turn? Check out my Resources page. Just after recommended HR blogs I have links to some great career websites. Know of one that I don’t have listed? Let me know.