We know what you want from them, but do you really know what they would like from you? Let’s start by saying recruiters are people too, with interests, a sense of humor and time they just can’t waste. When they are plowing (and I do mean that literally) through THOUSANDS of resume submissions for just one job post against the 30 to 50 job requisitions they are working on, don’t think any of these folks have time on their hands to read the great American novel- I am talking about your resume!
It’s nice to provide someone a vehicle by which you can tout your successes (or mask your failures) and layout the painstaking history which is your progressive job career, even though, it looks like you’ve job hopped enough to rack up enough frequent flyer miles for a trip around the world. Having the common sense to know how to properly lay out your professional background without relying on a template you’ve pulled off the internet, is going to save you a lot of time and aggravation in the long run when it comes to writing a smart, concise and relevant resume-even if at times you feel like no one is reading it!
Here are a few rules to apply when crafting or updating your resume:
1) Keep it Simple: Resumes that read like a section from the yellow pages leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to keeping it simple. Your resume should be no more than two (2) PAGES long (yes that is two pages!) regardless if you’ve only worked 6 months and like to list every task you ever performed, or have worked for a litany of companies over the course of 30 years. The longer it is the better it isn’t. You should lean towards brevity and be concise and limit two – three bullets for each job. Any employment history longer than 20 years is irrelevant to seeking a current job. They know you are qualified for the position if your work history is over 10 -15 years in a profession. You should not feel the need to list everything you’ve done since graduating in 1985. Keeping it simple might even mean tailoring your resume to meet the job description and knowing when too much is enough. Editing yourself can be your biggest skill in crafting a great resume.
2) Stick to the Facts: Making a point to be brief is important but making sure you include the relevant facts and that you do not omit important events, duties, successes, etc. is even more critical to pulling your resume together. Make sure your statements include your accomplishments in a brief, easy to read and understandable language. Using abbreviations for industry terms may be easy for you to understand, but make sure you explain it properly to someone who is unfamiliar with your company or industry jargon. Remember keep the reader in mind when you write your resume and if it’s boring for you to read, think about the poor recruiter who has to read 100 or more just like yours every day!
3) Play the Numbers Game: It’s important to not only qualify your work but to quantify in measureable and achievable terms that a recruiter or hiring manager can understand. Specifically, remember to list the size and scope of your company, your division, your staff and your budget responsibility. Knowing that helps to explain the scope of your job in measureable terms. Numbers help the recruiter place you as a senior executive or someone more apt to work for a start-up company, etc.
4) Title, Dates and Location: Make sure recruiters don’t need to guess who you are, when you worked somewhere or where you were based. Keeping it simple means making sure you don’t forget to format your resume from the perspective of what your position is currently, including your title or position, dates and location. It’s a good idea to use a chronological format when preparing your resume as it’s easier to read, simpler to follow and makes it look professional. Using a functional resume format is another choice but if not done well, you can leave the recruiter guessing on many important points easily explained when you lay it out from a to z.
5) Summing it Up: Yes it’s nice to list every course, professional certification, safety training or traffic school class you ever attended, but what you really need to focus on is what is important to the job you are applying for and what is not. Stick to main courses of education where you earned a degree or received certification for higher education. Save room for your valuable two pages and remember to list important associations, memberships or boards you may belong to. Remember keep it short but don’t cut out the important stuff.
Remember, it’s not how much you say in a resume that’s critical it’s how you say it, short, sweet and to the point is a term you should keep in mind.