What information to include in your resume and where to put it
This article is part 2 of a series of articles that will help you get your ideal job. From developing a professional resume to acing an interview, this series will help you understand what it takes to get hired in a competitive job market.
The best way to select information that belongs on your resume is to think like an employer. Ask yourself, “If I were hiring a person for a K-12 teacher, what training and experience would be related?” Give a brief, specific, positive information that would be of interest to your next employer. Do not give unrelated or negative information.
As the Principal Director of an international recruitment agency, my team and I have a great affinity for the “Perfect Resume.” Now let me clarify for you that the “perfect resume” is not some magic document that gets you the job, rather, it is the document that gets you noticed.
For any company that has a hiring process, the expected response rate for a single job posting is anywhere between 100 – 1000 resumes. This means that on a good day, my team I filter through thousands of resumes. Over the past 3 years, we’ve become exceptionally talented at sorting the chaff and finding the right job candidates. In most cases, filtering is the easy part because, for every 100 resumes we get, we usually notice that 90 of them fall into one of these categories:
- Not professional
- Skills and experience not relevant to the job
- Not well organized
A resume can tell a hiring manager a lot about who you are. If your resume is fraught with spelling errors, doesn’t get to the point, and is very difficult to read, then for my team your file gets placed into what we’ve come to affectionately call the “Better Luck Next Time” pile.
The “Perfect Resume” is any document that doesn’t fall into the 3 categories I’ve mentioned above. Ensuring that your resume is professional, relevant, and organized usually ensures that your file will get noticed and into the pile for consideration for further evaluation. Which means, if your skills and experience match the job requirements, you should be getting a call sometime soon with a request for an interview.
Here are a few points on how to ensure that your resume gets noticed, or “Resume Writing 101: How to Get Yourself Noticed.”
- Read the submission instructions carefully
Do they want a PDF version of your resume or Word? Should a picture be attached? Should the subject title be a specific line the company wants?
I’m often amazed how the simplest instructions that are outlined in a job posting for resume postings are ignored. Requests for specific subject lines indicating the position name, or submissions in PDF and not Word, or an accompanying cover letter with the submitted resume are usually ignored. Which is quite a shame, because there are resumes that have the relevant skills and experience but do not follow the instructions posted in the listing. It shows the amount of time and consideration the person put into reading the instructions (not that much), and thus we follow suite with such resumes when we filter them out.
Spend time going through the instructions for submission as well ensuring that your skills, experience, and other past employment information are well-organized and relevant to the position you are applying for. The time and effort you spend ensuring the relevancy of your resume will ensure that more attention will be given by the hiring manager reading it.
- Organize Your Resume According to the Requirements
Organizations usually spend quite some time writing out their job requirements in a job listing so make sure that you go through the requirements of a potential job posting carefully. The requirements usually represent a high-level outline of what organizations are looking for in terms skills and past experience, and your resume should speak like a checklist to those requirements.
Choose between a functional format or a chronological format as required. A chronological resume format outlines your past skills and experience according to your past jobs in chronological order. Whereas, a functional format focuses more on your summary of qualifications and your past job experience as well as past work experience as tailored to the requirements of the position. This is often a judgment decision on your behalf, but to simply, ask yourself whether you think the hiring managers want a more specific resume targeted to the position being advertised or a more general resume that outlines a more comprehensive perspective of your professional history.
- Short, Concise and to the Point
One of the things we’ve noticed recently is the increasing rate of resumes and cover letters that read like a book. I’ll share with you one example. I recently received a resume that was extremely well organized; it had listed all the skills and experience that the job was looking for. However, the job summaries in the resume encompassed 4 pages. While this might be required for a senior corporate position, this was much too long for the purposes of an international marketing coordinator.
After reading through the first page, I could not get a comprehensive view of this person’s job history and what they wanted to me to get from their past professional history. And thus, after a quick glance at the remaining pages I had to put this one in the “Better Luck Next Time” pile.
Resumes can be long if your past job history is long. However, you want to make sure that everything important in on the first page. As mentioned above, hiring managers go through hundreds of resumes a day and usually allocate less than 5 minutes to read resumes. Make sure that everything important you feel you need to say about yourself gets across on the first page.
- A Bullet List of Your Top Skills
By adding a bullet list of skills at the top of your resume ensures that hiring managers can quickly assess your skills and experience at a glance. Hiring managers go through hundreds of resumes a day, and in a fast-paced job market they don’t have time to read your articulate prose. At most, your resume may get 2-3 minutes of a hiring manager’s time and 5 if the first portion of your resume interests them.
Try to use keywords in your bullet list that are relevant to the job, or the industry the jobs is in. A good practice is to take some of the keywords that are in the job description, particularly those around acquired skills and technical expertise and integrate them into your bullet list.
- Give Yourself a Title and Some Brief Keywords About Your Career Expertise
When I’m sending out resumes (alas, something I haven’t done in a long time), I always gave myself a title. Why? I always felt it put into context my resume and the skills, experience and career history I had written in it. Like a novel, a good title sets the tone and expectations of the reader. At the most basic level, a resume is a prose and most of the conventions of how a reader digests your words can be done strategically.
One of those strategies is to give yourself a title in larger fonts than your resume. Don’t think that by putting a title that is beyond your current expertise will help you. Rather, go online and see what your years of experience puts you in the current job market and choose accordingly. Once you’ve done that, underneath your title, put some relevant keywords associated with your title. For example, my title is “Principal Director of International Recruiting” and my title-associated keywords are: International Hiring, Senior Human Resources Manager, and Strategic Staffing and Organization.