What You Must Know if You Are Putting Together Your Resume for the First Time in Years
I often help executives who reach out to me for job search advice or to get a resume professionally written. They’re great at what they do; they’ve moved from job to job or company to company by being recruited based on their reputation by former colleagues, managers or mentors. So they have never needed a resume, and often haven’t even written one, for years.
If it’s been years since you’ve been on the job hunt, there are three critical points to understand in terms of how resume writing — and reading — have changed.
Technology Has Changed The Game
Resumes are no longer printed out, at least not during the first several reads. Instead, they are read on screens of all sizes from desktops to mobile phones.
Why is this important? The human eye reacts quite differently online than in print. Screen reading is much tougher on us than when something is printed out, and small screen reading is even harder than large screen reading.
Thus, resumes written for print often don’t make the cut. Get your resume screen-ready by:
- Replacing dense text, like a 5-line paragraph or a series of single line bullets clumped together. Opt for bullets or paragraphs that are two to three lines long.
- Inserting at least a half-inch of white space in between each and every paragraph or bullet you create.
- Adding a touch of color, along with bold and italics. This goes a long way in keeping the reader’s interest and drawing their attention to areas of your resume you’d like to call out. A sea of black and white would never attract a reader to a website, so you shouldn’t expect a colorless resume to appeal to a hiring manager!
People Are Always In A Rush
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a reader leisurely review a (virtual) stack of resumes. Like you, recruiters and front-line reviewers are always pressed for time when making decisions about potential candidates.
Studies indicate your resume has seconds, not minutes, to make an impression. That means the salient points of your career must be quickly identifiable and allow the reader to easily connect the dots with regards to how your experience can solve their needs.
Ensure a quick and impressive skim read by including these three sections:
- “Executive Summary”
You know this section is spot on if, after reading it, the reader has a clear sense of why you are a perfect fit for their needs. Avoid descriptive adjectives and instead include facts or data unique to you. For instance, rather than saying “Has a strong track record of sales results,” you might write “Leads sales strategies that grow revenues 30% annually and transforms underperforming teams to President’s Club winners.”
Then, weave in key phrasing from job postings of interest. A review of four or five intriguing job posts often yield common requirements. By including language in this paragraph that aligns with these postings, you’ve helped the reader connect the dots as to how you are a perfect fit.
- “Core Proficiencies”
As an executive, core proficiencies are not about your ability to perform a pivot table in Excel, but rather the areas of expertise you have mastered to be successful.
For instance, a CIO’s core proficiencies might include terms like, “resource planning,” “profit and loss management,” “enterprise resource planning implementations,” application development” and “vendor negotiations.”
- “Quantifiable Results”
The skim reader wants to understand the bottom-line impact of your leadership success in past roles. By quantifying this, rather than outlining your areas of responsibility, the reader will be able to make the connection about the impact you could make in your next role.
Remember to show context when including data or figures. For instance, if the standard annual growth in your industry is 12% and yours is 25%, this will make a far greater impression than if you’d just stated you grew revenues 25%.
People Want To Hear Your Recent History
By the time you’ve earned an executive or C-level title, you likely will have had 20-plus years of experience under your belt. While in certain cases, your years out of school may be relevant, usually, it isn’t.
For the purposes of the resume, focus on the last 15 years or so to avoid being perceived as outdated, and keep your resume to two pages. Longer than that and you risk losing the attention of the online reader.
Are you jumping into the job search arena for the first time in years? Your best chance for success incorporates the understanding of how time and technology have impacted how resumes must look, and how they have transformed the reading and decision-making process.
Previously appeared in Forbes
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