How to Write a Killer Resume

04/16/2009

ResumeBe concise and direct

Don’t say “got a better idea of” or “was exposed to” when describing experiences; be specific and detailed – it’s obvious when you’re fluffing. “Mastered the fundamentals of Object-oriented PHP” is much stronger than “was exposed to scripting languages” and gives you a bit of wiggle room if your interpretation of “mastery” and “fundamentals” are different from the person interviewing you :)

Use descriptive, past tense verbs

Example: created, built, established, engineered, and coded.

Lose that silly objective statement…if it’s silly

This is a personal preference, but I find objective statements to be a colossal waste of space. “A hard working individual looking for a marketing position with [Company A].” (Submitted to the recruiter at [Company A]).

No kidding.

That being said, a compelling statement that incorporates your skills, experiences, and abilities might resonate with the person reading your resume.

Put your Education section at the bottom

List your experiences or accomplishments first; we’ll get to your school later. If it’s assumed that you’re qualified for the position to which you’re applying, there’s no need to show off your shiny degree just yet. Focus on sharing why you’re a good fit for the organization and how you intend to add value.

Share something interesting about yourself

Recruiters and hiring managers are subconsciously looking for ways to connect with you. You went to Ohio State University and played Table Tennis? On the off chance that the person reviewing your resume did the same, you’re in good shape :)

A more likely scenario is that the recruiter or hiring manager is a runner, volunteer, piano player, Boys and Girls Club volunteer, or something like that. Don’t paint yourself as a workaholic (unless that’s specifically what the position is calling for); it’s ok (and encouraged) to have a life. You took a year off to backpack across South America? I’d interview you, no question.

List what you’ve accomplished

Don’t just tell what you were involved with or what you learned; share what you’ve done. Sell yourself as a person who achieves results; not just one who works hard.

Use consistent formatting

If you put a period on the end of one sentence (you shouldn’t), put a period on the end of the other twenty-seven sentences. Nothing screams, “I don’t pay attention to detail” like making careless errors on your resume.

Don’t rely on a spell-checker alone

By default, Microsoft Word doesn’t check the spelling of capitalized words. Don’t believe me? Paste EXPERIENCE and EDUCAITON into a Word document and tell me what’s missing.

Have a second (third…fourth…) set of eyes look over your resume before shooting it out. A mistake on your resume is career suicide. I know that sounds dramatic, but proper spelling is a gimme and you can’t afford not to be perfect on paper! It reminds me of a quote shared by one of my teachers many years ago: “No one will ever notice how good a speller you are.”

Your resume should be one page

Fresh out of school, there’s no reason for you to have two and three pages to your resume. Resumes are scanned; not read. You’re not telling your life story. If you’re over 30, two pages is fine.

Honors, awards, and professional accomplishments

Have you been promoted? Show it off. Passed the Series 6 exam? That’s a big deal. You’re a Six Sigma Black Belt? What an excellent talking point. Share your accomplishments!

These aren’t limited to professional accomplishments, either. You went back to school after 15 years and completed your degree? That’s something to be proud of. Brag on yourself a little – I promise it’s ok.

Have a Gmail or personalized email address

[For more information on why YOU need a website (www.you.com), check out this post!] This is another personal preference, but your email address is like a fashion accessory. Believe it or not, it says a lot about the type of person you are. Be particularly careful to avoid listing an aol.com or company.acquired.by.bellsouth.net address.

Why do I say this? It’s all about branding. I manage about six email addresses from my Gmail account and use my Gmail account as the one I give out to everyone, but I have an email[at]williejackson[dot]com address for whenever it’s needed. There are some potential drawbacks related to having a [email protected] address, however: the company you registered your domain through for 27 cents might go out of business. You might move, forget to update your billing address, and have your account disabled/suspended until you fix it. These are just two examples.