Recruiters are often asked by family, friends, and perfect strangers to review their resume. I do this gladly, as I’d like to rid the world of bad resumes. While there are hundreds of articles out there on how to write a good resume, they are subjective, just as this one is. This is one recruiters opinion, there are a few absolutes, the rest is up to you.
Absolute number 1: Your resume is your main marketing tool. It’s likely the first and only method you will have to present yourself to a prospective employer. It should be written as though you were selling your skills – which is the reality here. Make an overview list of your past jobs, and begin to fill in the details. You should list your skills for each position and give specific information about your impact. If you are in sales, list your accomplishments and the percentage of quota you attained. If you are in accounting, list any savings that you made or processes you improved. Do this for each and every job, especially the most recent. I see a trend that people who are suddenly in the job market rush their resume updates and their most recent position has very little data included in their profile. Lastly, add one line about what business each of your past employers is in. For example, if you worked for IBM, you would have a brief statement like this: A world-wide supplier of computer hardware and software with sales in the billions…you get my meaning. This information is very helpful to recruiters. We are often asked to find employees who have worked in a certain industry and it makes our life easier to have that information right in front of us rather than an internet search away.
Absolute number 2: Spell check. Spell check again. While recruiters say this at every opportunity, you would be amazed at how many resumes I still get with grammar and spelling mistakes. Remember, spell check will only check spelling, not grammar in most instances, so it won’t know that you meant “there” instead of “their”. One good method is to read it backwards, starting at the end and work forward. Read each sentence and word individually to be sure it’s spelled correctly and that you are using the right word. Then have a friend (or a recruiter) read it and give you honest feedback.
Absolute number 3: You should have different resumes for different jobs. For example, if you are in marketing and communications, when you apply for a Public Relations position, you should have a resume more focused on your communications experience. It will still have information about your marketing experience, however the focus will shift.
Absolute number 4: Honesty is the best (and only) policy. This is really an area we recruiters receive the most questions. If you don’t have a degree, don’t lead anyone to believe otherwise. If you are unemployed, don’t leave “to present” on the date range of your most recent position. If you question if something is the right thing to do, it’s likely not. Don’t walk the fine line of honesty; be well on the side of being completely truthful. If a prospective employer doesn’t like something or you aren’t qualified for the position, that will come out in an interview setting, and how terrible would that be?!
Please let me know if you have any specific questions related to resumes via the comments. I look forward to helping you!