A Do It Yourself Resume Critique

Wondering if your resume needs an update? Here are best practices I think you’ll want to follow.

  1. Pay attention to how your resume starts because this is your chance to create interest. Rather than an objective or even a branding statement, start your resume with a profile that includes 3-5 bulleted statements. Make this profile a flexible part of your resume that you tweak depending on the job for which you are applying.
  2. Related to this, my personal opinion is that there is no place for complimentary adjectives on a resume…so words like “self-starter” and “multi-tasker” and “successful” don’t belong in a profile. In the words of journalists everywhere, show me, don’t tell me.  Describe specific experience you have related to the requirements that have been advertised.  For instance: three years of experience in a supervisory role; training in xxx software; demonstrated ability to collaborate with team to improve processes.  Notice that each of these examples is specific and quantified.  You will then go on to show where you did these things in your work experience section.
  3. In this work experience section, your job descriptions should describe both what your job responsibilities have been and results you’ve gotten. Ideally each job will have a bulleted list of ongoing  responsibilities followed up by a sub heading called “accomplishments” and a list of results.  Verbs should be in the past tense to indicate that you did these things not just that you were supposed to do these things.
  4. Make sure you put the months as well as the years you have worked in each position so an Applicant Tracking System will give you the correct credit for your work.
  5. One of my greatest pet peeves is a resume where the writer obviously cut and pasted the HR position description for their current job. It tends to be vague, sound like corporate-speak and impersonal to the extreme.
  6. You need for your resume to be easy to scan so white space and bullets will be helpful. But don’t go overboard here: too much white space sacrifices valuable real estate and results in a higher page count.
  7. Most resumes evolve the same way. They are updated by adding the most recent job to the top of the stack within your work experience section.  After you’ve gotten some work experience, you need to edit this down because your earlier jobs don’t need as much airtime as your more recent jobs. At some point, you may even decide to leave earlier jobs off.   It is ok to go to a second page but make sure you do so because all of your info is relevant not because you haven’t edited it well.

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