Your resume serves three primary purposes:
- To get your foot in the door to be screened/interviewed
- To positively represent your “brand”
- To anchor interview questions and discussion around your experience
Keep these three things in mind as you prepare your resume. Your resume stays with you during the search and interview process, which is full of uncertainty, rejection and long periods of waiting. Control what you can, namely the content of your resume – The positions you apply for, the amount and quality of interview preparation you do, and company research. The content of your resume and the way you frame it is totally within your control.
This document, along with the Crafted Resume Worksheet will help you write or refine your resume. For personalized feedback or additional support crafting your resume, please contact Crafted Career Concepts.
TOP 20 ELEMENTS OF A CRAFTED RESUME
VISUAL / FORMATTING
1. Consider one page for most resumes, two at times. Common guidance from experts will suggest keeping your resume to two pages, but I don’t support that general notion. Recruiters and hiring managers spend less than 7 seconds scanning resumes. If your resume hasn’t captured the reader on the first page, there is a good chance the second page won’t even be seen. For professionals in most industries with up to 15 years of experience, one page should be the ideal. The second page should be reserved for executives, senior leadership roles, candidates with 15+ years of work experience or for those working in industries where a “CV” (curriculum vitae) is used to document published works, research, etc. If revising your resume down to one page seems like a tall order at first glance, don’t worry. Its possible, but you have some editing and Experience Crafting to do.
2. Be Concise. Practice good business writing and be consistent in the manner you phrase and structure bullet points or sentences. Bullet points do not require a period (“.”).
3. Choose a clean resume template. Leave enough white space with appropriate margins and be thoughtful about font sizes. Don’t let the visual appearance be distracting to the eye.
4. Use bold headings, indentations or bullets to guide the reader to important points and make experience stand out. Don’t go too crazy with this or you’ll start to violate rule #3
5. Include month and year for your Dates of Employment. The chronology of your work history is going to be one of the first things the reader reviews. They are looking to see the type and duration of your past experience, and the type of advancement you have achieved in your career. While including the month and year can expose gaps in your employment history, recruiters are used to seeing gaps in employment that often occur during weak economic cycles or as a result of company or industry wide layoffs. Personal or family reasons for gaps are also to be expected. Avoid using only the year (For example, 2012 – 2015). This can cause the reader to place more attention and scrutiny on your work history and draw focus away from your accomplishments and track record.
6. Be aware of your tense. Use present tense only for your present role. All other experience should be written in past tense (you don’t work there anymore).
7. Create a text only version. Job boards and company websites often require you to complete an online profile in their system and usually (but not always) the ability to attach your resume, cover letter or other attachments. Having a text version of your resume will allow you to ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ sections directly from your resume (or the entire resume) into the text box or form without having to make countless formatting changes.
8. PROOFREAD. Attention to detail matters. Review your resume, proof read for overall look and feel, spelling, grammar and consistent sentence structure. Ask for feedback. You’ve been engrossed in writing your resume and may be too close to the content to be objective. Be specific about what kind of feedback you’d like from the reviewer such as:
- How’s my grammar, spelling and overall appearance?
- Does my experience line up well with the job requirements?
- If you were hiring for the position, what concerns might you have that I could address within the resume?
- Have I conveyed transferrable skills that would be valuable in the role?
CONTENT / EXPERIENCE CRAFTING(c)
9. Don’t use an Objective Statement. While many experts still recommend an Objective Statement, I feel that this is poor advice. When you are applying for a position, your objective is to get the job. Why open yourself up to the reader’s judgement that your resume is too generic or worse, not relevant enough to impress. This is sometimes interchanged with a Career Summary that serves to sum up your experience and position your candidacy like an elevator pitch. While it may feel to you that the summary is useful, it is not to the reader. They will make their own mental summary of your career experience based on what they take in on the rest of your resume. The major themes that you want the reader to take away from your resume after reading it should be woven into your accomplishments under each role.
10. Remember: Content is King. The chronology and progression of your career, including your major achievements, successes and accolades is the most important part of your resume. This is where you’ll spend the bulk of your time and where feedback is most important.
11. Be specific about your experience and accomplishments. Look to convey the size, scale and scope of the projects you worked on, the size of territory or team that you managed, and to quantify the successes and contributions you made in each role. Think about which roles, experiences, projects and situations that you plan to draw from when answering behavioral interview questions. Many, but not all of your responses, will come from the experience you’ve showcased on your resume.
12. Ask yourself, “So What?” Look at each bullet point, statement and piece of information on your resume. Pretending that you are a cynical hiring manager, ask “So what about that or why should I care?” or “How will that help my business?”. Does the bullet point allow the reader to answer her own question? If yes, that content deserves to be on the page. If you have to stretch too far for an answer, chances are that you need to refine that bullet or eliminate it altogether. Your goal for the reader is to believe that you possess the leadership, skills and other traits they want for their company.
13. Use strong, results-driven verbs. Pick strong verbs such as “Initiated”, “Exceeded”, “Headed”, “Operated”, “Pioneered”, or “Overhauled”. Avoid weak ones such as“Led”, “Managed”, “Handled” or “Responsible for”.
14. Include “Key Words” throughout your resume. For help with this, look at several job postings or job descriptions that interest you. Identify the role, industry or company-specific words that tend to be used. These will likely be the words that recruiters or companies will use when searching for candidates and experience they are looking for.
15. Have integrity. Don’t stretch the truth or fabricate your experience and results. When you’re face to face, everything on your resume is fair game for questions. Put your best self forward and present your accomplishments in the most favorable light, but remember, recruiters and interviewers are on the look out for any red flags that help them weed out resumes. If a recruiter or interviewer suspects that you have been disingenuous or seem to be taking too much credit for accomplishments or results, you will likely be removed from the running.
16. Show Some Personality…Carefully. People want to work with someone they like and can relate to. Recruiters and hiring managers have interests and hobbies outside of work and so do you. Thoughtful and careful inclusion of personal data that tells the reader a little bit about who you are can create a connection during an interview and can help you stand out from other candidates in a positive way.
17. Spell out Acronyms. If needed, spell an acronym out the first time to define it, and then use the acronym for the remainder of the document. For example, “Affordable Care Act (ACA)”. Don’t assume the reader will know what the acronym stands for.
LEAVE IT OFF
18. References. There is no reason to provide references until they are requested, and there is no reason to include “References Available upon Request.” This is understood. When providing references, you’ll do so in a separate document.
19. Be careful with personal information. Don’t include information such as gender, marital status, religion, race or physical information (such as a photo or head shot). Like it or not, this information can be used to make judgments and inferences about you that may not be accurate or helpful to your cause. Be mindful of this especially when including your extra curricular activities, volunteer experience and hobbies.
20. Don’t use personal pronouns. Word your sentences without “I”, “we”, “they”, “us”, “you”.