Monday, January 9, 2012

3 Things Your Resume is Missing

I was helping a friend review their resume the other day and while they had done a very good job and I am very hopeful they'll be considered a top candidate for the position it reminded me of a few things that are easily forgotten when putting together your resume.

At this point you should already have a customized resume for each job you apply for. So after that, what's going to put you across the finish line?

  1. Keep the most quintessential points on top.  Most people know that if you are a recent graduate you probably put your education on top. If you've had years of experience you probably put your experience before your education. But I suggest that for each job you think of the most crucial thing you did and put that up top. It shouldn't just be a description of what you did, but where you held the highest level of responsibility. Or if you are changing into a slightly different field, this should be the key to why you are qualified for the job you are applying for. Why up top? I am a cynic and think resume reviewers may not always read everything on your resume. So best to front load the good stuff.
  2. Jobs and responsibilities should show clear progression with the job you're applying for as its obvious conclusion. Think about this like a puzzle game. Employers want to see that you are improving, learning and that previous jobs have increased your levels of responsibilities and abilities. Whether you're just going after the next level or whether you're trying to switch careers, the job you're applying for should be the obvious conclusion to the bread crumb path you've been setting out. Obviously you want to look well qualified for it, but at the same time it should be clear why this is the next step for you.
  3. Think like an employer to add in that WOW factor. You've looked at the job description, you've thought about what the company does, and you've peppered your resume and cover letter with all the details that show you match as many of those qualifications as possible. But now I'm asking you to be a detective. Try to look past the words. Use your knowledge of the industry. What is it that will help you stand out? Does the company have a reputation for difficult people and you've demonstrated extreme patience in the past? Are they looking for someone who works 90 hours a week and that's definitely you checking your blackberry during the middle of the night? Try to figure out what kind of person they really want, past all your job qualifications, and make sure you let them know you're that kind of person too.

Hope you liked my tips and feel free to suggest your own in the comments. Given the economy right now my additional suggestion if you are job hunting is to not take it personally. You may be a fantastic employee but there are just a lot of fantastic job hunters out there. So stay positive and keep trying.

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