First impressions can be responsible for career shifts and salary bumps just as much as a failed opportunity. While our instant digital outreach is wider and faster than ever, our resumes continue to act as our electronic introductions when inquiring about new job opportunities.
Companies such as LinkedIn are rapidly changing the delivery methods of our skills and work history, but as a Talent Manager who works with hundreds of candidates and thousands of resumes every year, I can assure you the resume still holds great weight within the hiring life cycle.
Many of the ideas below can easily be applied to online experience hubs like LinkedIn, as well. While most Applicant Tracking Systems offer services like resume parsing and match ratios, at the end of the day, humans with personal preferences still make decisions.
With personal preference comes a variety of opinions on the type of information hiring managers and recruiters want to see. With that said, I’ve put together some resume-writing tips on both style (part 1) and content (part 2) that I believe can help you level up your career-oriented first impressions.
Part 1 - Style
Layout and Formatting
There are lots of opinions on the “right” way to section off your resume. The truth is, your resume is just an extended elevator pitch that most likely will not be read as closely as you wrote it.
So, be clear and don’t assume recruiters know your craft like you do. Also be concise; managers do not have time to read every word.
Ensure your approach is consistent and information is easy to locate. Stay the course; don’t jump ship halfway through for another format that suits a particular section better.
Once upon a time, a cover letter signified a person’s level of interest and initiative. During that time, information wasn’t at our fingertips.
The issue with cover letters is that they are typically too generic to set you apart or, if they are defined enough to be relegated to a specific company, you can be certain there will be a limited number of cover letters being written. It is just too time-consuming for the results they may or may not yield.
A better use of the same time and energy can be utilized in the form of a follow-up to submitting your resume. Take the same information, distill it to the essentials, and use that to help you get in touch with decision-makers and gatekeepers via email, LinkedIn, and social media. It gives you a second touch point, a reason to follow up.
Your personal mission statement sounds like a good idea, but again, these often fall into the “too general to matter” category or “so specific it shuts the door before a conversation has even begun.” Recruiters and hiring managers assume you are seeking a position that will push you to the next level while helping the company achieve success. It doesn’t need to be stated, unless you truly are looking to tackle a niche role. Even then, you don’t want to turn down a job offer you haven’t even received yet.
Point of View
There has been a shift in recent years in making your work personable and building your own brand. Companies now want to know more about you. Resumes can be written as an extension of your voice. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of personality and speak from your own POV. Be a proactive thought leader rather than a reactive job seeker.
Candidates often want to apply a hard and fast rule to resume length when, in reality, there isn’t a “right” answer. A good rule of thumb is to keep it to two pages or less.
The goal is to entice talent managers to follow up with a call or email, so you can then elaborate on your experience. If you find yourself running out of room, try grouping positions together with similar experience or building out an “accomplishments” section to highlight major victories, roadblocks you overcame, and more.
Closing Thoughts on Style
There are many tools you can easily use to convey your experience. Utilize platforms like LinkedIn or even a small portfolio/resume site on SquareSpace or Wix to elaborate on your story in different ways. It’s good to create a balance. Don’t lean too heavily on one method. When it comes to the style of your resume, make it clear and easy to read, and you’ll be fine.
In Part 2: Content, I’ll cover crafting multiple strategic resumes for use when applying to roles that vary in nature.
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