As a hiring manager, I’ve seen some pretty interesting resumes. Some have been fantastic- concise, achievement-focused, and well edited. Others have been less successful. From easily discovered false claims to long narratives about personal hobbies, some applicants don’t market themselves in the best light. Here are the top 5 pieces of advice I have as a hiring manager to help avoid these blunders.
1. Keep it Concise
Many jobs have hundreds of applicants. As a hiring manager, I may only glance over your resume for a few seconds before deciding what pile it goes in. Make sure that the document clearly lays out education, employment, and other relevant achievements and does so in bullets, not text blocks. It doesn’t need to list everything- just what makes you most marketable for the job.
2. Skip the Objective
In all the resumes I've reviewed over the years, I've never seen a successful objective that improved an applicant's candidacy. However, I have seen objectives that hurt their chances- many forget to update for each job and I’ll get an objective that says “seeking a nursing position” when I’m hiring for a library job. Most people use the section to state that their objective is to be hired for the job I’m hiring for. However, I already know that, since you applied. Skip this section to keep that resume concise and focus instead on crafting a great cover letter.
3. Proof Read- Then Proof Read Again
While one error or typo isn’t going to take you out of the running for the job, you certainly don’t want to claim you’re detail-oriented, but then have numerous typos and formatting issues. My favorite example is how I once submitted my resume where “ask” was auto corrected to “ass”- I certainly didn’t get that job!
4. Use the Skills Section Mindfully
Most people can safely skip including a skills section. Now, this doesn’t apply to fields like computer science, where you want to list the coding languages you know. However, if your skills section is filled with terms like “detail-oriented” and “proficient in Microsoft office suite,” it’s safe to say you can save the space and cut the section. Instead, focus on communicating these skills through your experience section.
5. Focus on Achievements
Your resume is a marketing document. To show yourself in the best light possible, focus on achievements, not responsibilities. For example, “sold clients spa memberships” sounds far more accomplished if you phrase it as “maintained a 23% membership sales closing and was recognized as the top salesman for 2015.”
As a disclaimer, this advice goes out the window when applying for government or academic jobs. This fields are weird beasts of their own that deserve a book on how to best apply.
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