From the moment we’re thrust into the world of academia, there’s a lingering air left over us that we’re destined to pursue our dream career and land our dream job. For some of us, that’s a tried and true reality; but that reality comes with sacrifices that tend to not be talked about: the fiscal rewards seem inversely proportional to the facets of our life that we sacrifice. Friendships, from familial to romantic, are thrust onto the back burner while deferred dreams evolve into the norm.
But then, on the flip side, there are others like myself included that are still passionately prowling for what makes sense to them. We’ve watched as hobbies and skills learned vocationally have developed into tangible career path, and our academic degrees have signified less and less, eventually fading away into obscurity on a wall in your home office as resolute proof of a life once lived. Regardless of your career choice, one truth I’ve learned about the working world is you should always be open to the variety of options out there, because you simply don’t know what doors of opportunity you might be knocking on in the future.
Over the last month, I’ve migrated roles in my part time position into a interim Human Resources guru and I’ve seen a lot – I mean a – LOT – of resumes fly my way. Some are stellar and some not so much, but it’s made the wheels of my mind work in new and different ways. I’ve found that whether it’s a do or a don’t, each and every resume has valuable insight – from elevating my syntax or word choice, adjusting my work history, delving into my skill set or omitting prior experience that has little to nothing to do with the new role. Beyond now owing myself an actual resume refresh with some of the new skills I’ve learned while taking in the hiring process, I finally have some wisdom to impart on the topic. Whether you’ve had your job for a month or a year, having an up to date resume that you can send out on a whim is clutch – and could land you the opportunity of a lifetime.
If you’ve got a friend in graphic design, grab’em – because their resumes are honestly instantly more creative and competitive than the rest of us. From simple additions like adjusting the flow of information or using columns to organize individual sections to more complex ones like including graphic images, social media icons and infographics to represent quantitative data – I’ve been blown away by how crafty some applicants are. Word to the wise though, always save these types of resumes as a PDF – that way, the text doesn’t run a muck and lose formatting when it’s uploaded to your employers website.
Now that we’ve got your resume looking good and feeling great, it’s time to conquer the content of your resume – because when you get down to brass tax – the content is the product. For your resume less actually is more: with less fluff you give the reader a chance to focus on what’s important. Let’s start at the top of the resume and work down to the bottom.
Header: Your full address isn’t necessary, but your city and state are valuable to the employer – as is a link to a variety of different digital media profiles, from Twitter to Facebook and LinkedIn. Just remember, these will be checked – so best to keep them clean!
Objective: Unless you’re making a drastic career shift or have just graduated from college or university – the ‘Objective’ statement on the top should either be eliminated or simply moved over to your cover letter.
Work History: After a certain point in your career, you don’t need to tell your collective work history – you can start piece by piece, picking and choosing – including only the professions that apply to the new job. Move anything that’s not pertinent to a ‘Master Resume‘ that chronicles your entire job history, including remedial internships and part time gigs. However, for the resume you ship around to prospective employers, it’s best to keep off any short term job that spanned for less than four months.
Each employment experience should have between 2 and 4 key notes, including key learnings, moments of growth, and acquired skills – all driven by powerful verbs. If possible, use numbers to drive your points home – not only are they a simpler way of determining value, but quantitative figures will make you stand out. Your history doesn’t necessarily need to be in a linear order – this segment should tell a story and read with your strongest applied skill set for the job at the top, then descending on downwards by rank of importance. Omit your salary history – that’s a conversation for later down the road.
Education: Now that we’re finally out of college, our GPA and graduation date don’t matter as much as our degree itself, the honors and awards we received and the organizations we belonged to. Did you go Greek? Work on the school newspaper? Have an hour segment on the radio station? Graduate with honors? Volunteer at a local shelter? All of these qualities are foundations of well rounded employees with a variety of brain stimulating hobbies.
Skills: In 2016, there are some skills I just hope you have under your belt and believe you me – I’ve seen it all: Myers Briggs Personality Types, ‘Fluent in English’, ‘Smart Phones and ‘Googling’. Though I’m actually a fan of the first, what I realize is that all of these facets can pigeonhole an employee, or even prevent them from moving along in the hiring process. USPS isn’t difficult to navigate, neither is Facebook. But Facebook Page Analytics and Insuring International Shipments are two completely different stories.As a general rule of thumb, if you have to ask – you should probably just leave it out.
Posting and Hosting
Before you save your resume, convert it to a PDF and preserve any creative or graphic elements. Save the file using your name + ‘Resume’ and the Date, and save it into a master directory with all of your old resumes. That way, you’re ready to send on the fly moving forward. As far as posting your resume online, there are several free options – including Monster, Indeed and LinkedIn; or, store a text version of your resume on About.me and a graphic representation on Visualize.Me – the possibilities are endless! Now go on, get out – and get hired!