I am a facilitator at Bracknell Careers Springboard which is a jobs club for people seeking employment. One of the most important key topics we focus on is the candidate’s resume. If you are looking for a job then your resume (or CV) is the key document which will either get you an interview or put you on the reject pile. Most recruitment agencies and most recruiting managers receive hundreds of resumes every day and they typically scan each one for 15 seconds or less so it is critical that your document gains attention and says the right things about you in the right way.
Your resume should be no longer than two pages. The first page contains your summary, key skills and achievements. The second page contains a brief career history and your highest educational achievement. Here are seven key steps when constructing your resume.
1. Summary Statement.
In terms of the job market what are you? You need a short summary statement of one or two sentences which clearly articulates what you are. Avoid long, generic, ‘motherhood’ claims which anyone could make e.g. ‘A highly motivated goal-oriented team-player with strong interpersonal skills and excellent communication abilities.’ These opinions of yourself are worthless because who would not say this? Be specific e.g. ‘A qualified project manager with a proven track record in delivering major projects on time and within budget. I have particular experience in leading multinational teams to deliver Oracle and SAP implementation projects in financial and retail sectors.’
2. Key Skills
Give four or five bullet points of your most valuable transferable skills. You need to choose these carefully and be as specific as possible, Once again try to avoid motherhood and wherever possible list explicit expertise. What are the skills you have acquired that employers are looking for? What are the keywords that recruiters will put into search engines when looking for someone for the kind of position you desire? Instead of saying ‘Strong IT skills’ list the particular programming languages or applications that you know best.
Select a list of your three or four proudest achievements. What results did you deliver for the organizations where you worked? Do not be bashful. Blow your own trumpet with facts, figures and names of companies. ‘As Sales Manager at XYZ I grew sales revenue from $12m to $19m in two years.’ ‘At ABC I led the team which won Citibank as a major new account.’
4. Career History
The second page contains a brief summary of your most recent work experiences. List the organizations, your job title, your key responsibilities and achievements. Do not include long explanations for why you left one job to go to another or why you were laid off. Keep it concise and factual. In general it is only the last 10 to 15 years that are relevant so do not include a complete career history if it goes back further than this. If you are older than 50 then do not indicate your age as some employers may be prejudiced against older candidates.
Add your highest educational achievement and any relevant professional qualifications. You can add some personal interests and hobbies but keep them to a minimum. Be sure to have your name, email and phone number clearly visible on the front page so that people can contact you easily. You do not have to include your address but it might be helpful to mention the town where you are located.
6. Align your LinkedIn profile to your resume
Recruiters use both so they should be aligned. Your LinkedIn profile contains more material e.g. recommendations but both this profile and your resume should clearly position you in the same way with the same key words for the search engines.
7. Personalize your covering letter
Whenever you apply for a position send a covering letter or email with your resume and tailor the letter to the exact wording and needs expressed in the advert. Explain precisely and briefly why you are a good candidate for the position and how your skills and experience are relevant.
Get several different people to review your resume. Keep working at it so that every word counts. Make it clear, short, well laid out and and easy to read. Once you have your resume in good shape you should apply, apply, apply. Good luck with your job hunting.