Do’s and Don’ts of your Resume

If you are like most people the last time you looked at your resume was when you were last applying for a job. That resume is also most likely a combination of every time you reached a job search point in your career. You updated the details for your most recent job and hey presto, your resume is good to go!

Because we cannot forget the expert advice you have been given since you started writing resumes. If there is any document that people are “experts” it is the resume. When you started using a computer for a resume you dutifully selected the most appropriate template in Microsoft Word that your partner said made your resume look most professional. You added a photo because your friend said that people want to hire a person not just a script on a page. You bolded and underlined the most important sections as your sister said that is what makes your skills jump out. You added logos and pictures as your brother said that is what helped him get his last job.

So as it stands your resume is a culmination of years of hard work and dedication, expertly critiqued since the start. So why is it that when these works of art get to an inbox of a recruiter they are reviewed for 30 seconds and judged not suitable?  What went so horribly wrong?

Either you are applying for the wrong jobs. And hasn’t SEEK and other online job boards made it a little too easy to chuck as many resumes out into the ether with the hope that at least some of them will stick? Or your resume is not achieving its purpose.

The purpose of the resume is that when a recruiter looks at it they immediately want to call you because you are the perfect person for the job. If you are not achieving this outcome, your resume is not achieving its purpose. And despite all the “expertise” you have put into the resume so far, it was wrong.
So what does the research say on resumes, which resumes are most likely to get shortlisted?

  • Summary of key skills. Resumes that list a summary of key skills are more likely to get shortlisted than those that don’t. You need to identify the key skills and competencies that are needed in the job you are applying for and prepare a statement of your key skills matched to the requirements.
  • Achievement oriented. Resumes that focus on achievements are more likely to get shortlisted than those resumes that focus only on duties. Highlight your achievements in your resume, what targets did you exceed, what initiatives did you implement? Make the achievements relevant and targeted to the types of positions you are applying for.
  • Professional format. Resumes that are of a professional layout are more likely to get shortlisted than resumes that are kooky, colourful or a bit crazy. Formatting needs to be consistent to make a resume easy to read. Standard font throughout, consistent use of bullets, and allow lots of white space to make it easier for the reader to read.
  • No photos. Resumes that have photos are less likely to get shortlisted than resumes with photos. Well that is not completely true. Candidates perceived to be good looking were more likely to get shortlisted if they had a photo on their resume. However, as we know beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder. So leave the photo off and truthfully most photos on resumes are terrible. They are so, so bad that I have no doubt a book will be made filled with photos from resumes and we will laugh and laugh and laugh. So don’t. Unless you want your very bad resume photo to be featured in this book.

If you do these four things today, you will increase the chances of your resume being shortlisted tomorrow. But what else should your keep in mind?

  • Spelling and grammar. Proof read, spell check and proof read your resume again. We see way too many spelling mistakes in resumes.  If you are outlining one of your strengths to be ‘Atention to Deetail’ do you think the employer will believe what you are offering?
  • Do not use ‘texting’ language in a resume. Correct grammar, language and communication are essential. If you are using “texting” language you will often find your resume at the bottom of the applications pile… And while we are on the topic of language. Make sure you check your email address.
  • Have the right career objective listed on your resume. Think first if you need a career objective on your resume. If your skills and experience already explain your career objective it may be best to skip the career objective. However, if you want a career objective make sure it is the correct one. You may be applying for more than one role, but do make sure your career objective is specific to the role you are applying for.
  • Do not over-embellish on your resume. By putting something that is false or inaccurate to get your foot in the door will often come back to haunt you in the end. If you do not have certain experience in an aspect of the role, the employer would much more appreciate you being honest and offering the opportunity for training to learn more skills, then for you to lie and the employer finds out two weeks into your new role.
  • Be specific. For example, if your background is administration and you have listed ‘Assisted Managers in meetings’ elaborate by saying, ‘I booked the boardroom for our weekly Sales Meeting where I printed and distributed reports to attendees, recorded meeting minutes and provided PowerPoint presentations on sales outcomes at the end of each month.’
  • List achievements/awards that are actually achievements, and are relevant to the role you are applying for. Winning Cleo Bachelor of the Year may not be relevant for the current role you are applying for.

Make those updates to your resume today before you apply for your next job. And even if you are not job searching, save yourself the hassle and update your resume regularly. Every time you have achievements at work update it on your resume. Every time you get a promotion update it on your resume. When you keep your resume up-to-date you will save the pain and hassle of trying to remember what you achieved 5 or 10 or 15 years ago! Meaning if you are ever in that situation where you want a career change or your position is made redundant, you can save a lot of time and get on the front-foot for a successful job search.

Did you know that Challenge Consulting has a Resume Writing Service? Whether you need a quick refresh or a complete overhaul of your resume, our professional consultants with extensive recruitment experience will work with you to ensure your resume is focused on delivering results. Contact Susan Kealy on 02 9221 6422 or [email protected] to discuss your requirements.