With all the focus on networking, LinkedIn, and other social media sites for job searching, you may wonder if you still need to have a resume. The answer is an unequivocal yes. A well-written, concise resume plays a crucial role in any job search.
How do you maximize the chances that your resume will grab the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager? How do you create a resume that gets noticed, right away? You need to ensure that your resume is brief, easy to read, and quickly conveys your achievements. In theory, a resume, along with a cover letter, presents the required qualifications and related work experience in a way that will convince the employer to meet the candidate.
Research shows that the average time spent scanning a resume is 6 seconds. Notice that I said “scanning” and not “reading,” because when resumes are reviewed, they are given little more than a cursory glance to identify the criteria for which the recruiter or hiring manager is looking. With such a tight window of time in which to make an impression, it is critical that your resume quickly answers the question, “How will this person help me to solve my current business problems?” To start with, let me dispel some of the common resume myths that continue to plague job seekers of all levels:
Common Resume Myths
You must have an Objective section
Your resume is a marketing document, and your audience is the hiring manager and/or recruiter at your target company. Neither of these decision makers is especially interested in your career goals or aspirations. They are interested in someone who can solve their problems. Don’t waste real estate by including an objective section on your resume. (Further down in this article, I’ll talk about the importance of a resume summary, which is what you should have in place of an objective.)
Your resume must be one page
Another myth that is out there is that you must always limit your resume to one page. This is not true. While most positions don’t require a formal, lengthy C.V. (these are mostly used in academic or scientific fields, and include a list of publications and research projects), they do require a bit more explanation of your background than just a few bullet points. While most people aim for one page when writing a resume, know that if your work experience consists of 10+ years, it’s okay to stretch to a second page. Just make sure your most recent roles and accomplishments are highlighted and front-and-center.
You can hide gaps in employment by using the so-called “functional” format
There is almost no job seeker out there, and no hiring manager across the desk, who doesn’t have a gap in his or her employment history somewhere. They are part of life. Most people who review resumes dislike the functional format because it makes it difficult to understand what the candidate accomplished in previous roles. I recommend not using the functional format, and instead, using the reverse chronological format. More on that soon.
Include references on your resume
This advice is a relic of the 1960s and should go the way of bell-bottom jeans.
Use the same resume for all jobs to which you apply
Wrong! You should not take the shotgun approach to job searching. It should be a targeted, tailored exercise. Similarly, your resume should be customized for each job to which you apply. What does that mean? It means your resume (and cover letter) should speak to the needs and requirements noted in the job advertisement. PS: If you get stuck here, check out LiveCareer’s resume samples and examples, and find guidance according to industry and job title.
Now that we’ve cleared up some of the common resume misconceptions that abound, what should you do to create a resume that gets attention?
Use a reverse chronological resume format
This presents your background in an easily digestible timeline format. This format makes it very easy for the right people to see your employment history and achievements. If you’re unsure on what reverse chronological means, it means this—you start off the Work Experience section of your resume with your most recent position, and work backwards from there.
Instead of an Objective, create a Summary
This goes in the premium real estate section, right under your name and contact information. The summary section gives a quick overview of your core competencies. Check out my article How to Write a Resume Summary for the full scoop!
Lead with your achievements
The current and previous positions you list under the Work Experience section of your resume should highlight your superstar achievements, and, when possible, those achievements should be quantified. It’s fine to add in a few job duties as well, but know that recruiters and hiring managers aren’t as interested in your duties as they are your achievements.
Customize, tailor, and target
Be sure that your resume aligns with the position for which you are applying. In addition, to boost your reach, optimize your resume with relevant keywords from your field or industry.
It’s not about you
You may think that your resume is about you and your experience, but it really is not. Your resume is a tool that answers the question, “How can this person add value to my team?” in a quick manner. As is true in any written communication, you need to know your audience and speak to them. At the end of the day, the most crucial things to remember for creating a resume that gets noticed is this–make sure it’s clear, dynamic, and easy-to-read, and make sure it speaks to the problems/issues the hiring manager/company is facing, and definitely make sure it presents you as the best solution to these problems/issues.
LiveCareer offers job seekers assistance with all phases of a job search. Use our resume builder to construct a top-notch resume, or peruse resume examples from a wide variety of industries for insight into what to include on yours. Also find resume templates, a cover letter builder, and advice on how to answer interview questions of all stripes!