Topic of the Week Sweet Smell of Success: Writing a Great Resume
- DON'T blindly follow the rules.
- DO listen to all advice.
- DO leave stuff out.
- DO sell, don't just tell.
Resumes hardly ever can get you a job, but almost always can lose you one. Can you say necessary evil? Which reminds me of when 25-year-old Stephen Supers was pulled over by a police officer that had observed him speeding. When asked if he'd be speeding, Supers took a swig from an open beer can and replied, "Yes." It probably won't surprise anyone that Mr. Supers then failed a series of field sobriety tests. Just to add insult to injury, he was also charged with marijuana possession.
In addition to speeding in his car, Supers also was very fast to tell the cop what was really going on. We all could learn from him when it comes to resumes, how to get to the point more quickly and the importance of connecting the dots about our past for a potential employer. That's why I've listed three Do's and one Don't for a great resume below. For more, check out "Cover Letter Magic" by Enelow and Kursmark (Jist, 2010).
DON'T blindly follow the rules. Why shouldn't you follow the rules? Because there really aren't any when it comes to resumes. One page or two? Include an objective statement, or not? Focus primarily on appealing to a human or to a computer? Include references or not? You've got to make decisions for yourself, because the more you explore resumes, the more different opinions you'll hear. I often advice people to go to the biggest library or bookstore they can. Grab a bunch of resume books and skim them. After a while you'll find yourself attracted to a specific style of resume and to a particular approach to resumes. But take the time to not fall too quickly, you want to look at a range of options. Just for the record, I prefer one page resumes, including an objective statement, sending out a resume that appeals to computers but when you go for an interview brining one for humans and including references, FYI.
DO listen to all advice. I think it's important to get the view from the other side of the hiring table. That's why I like to have friends who routinely hire people as part of their jobs. They don't have to be in Human Resources, but they do have to spend time regularly reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates. These people can tell you first hand what impresses them, and what to avoid.
DO leave stuff out. Don't ever lie on your resume. I've known people who did and were still fired after they'd been hired. Don't put yourself in that position. But many people accept that stuff will get left out of resumes. After all, most of us have more information than can be fit on one page. Consider leaving out information strategically.
DO sell, don't just tell. Tell them why you want the job and bring in samples of your work, testimonials and solutions for their problems.
Follow these tips and you'll be speeding toward a great new job.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.