First and Foremost: Tell Employers What They Really Want to Know!
Look at the hiring process from the employer's point of view. There you are with a stack of resumes on your desk and a job to fill, right now. You've got some key requirements that candidates must meet before you'll even consider calling them in for an interview. All you want to know from each person "sitting" on your desk is: What can you do for me? How can you fill this job effectively? Why should I talk to you? So you start reading resumes and you see the same old stuff employers have been getting for decades: page after page of job descriptions, A.K.A. Chronological resumes.
But wait a minute. As an employer, I want to see what you can do for me, but all you're telling me is what you've done for someone else. Of course this is important, and I need to review your previous work experience and accomplishments. But does all this really apply to my situation? Of course not, and I really don't have time to read 10 or 20 years of your work history before I decide to call you in.
This is why purely Chronological resumes, for the most part, are on the way out, and why the next Key Factor is so important:
Consistently Market Your Skills and Abilities
Take a moment and really think about what this means. Does your current resume really market your most applicable skills and abilities, or is it a listing of your past? You must extract your most applicable skills and abilities from your past work experience and sell them at the very top of your resume in a summary section, titled PROFILE or EXPERIENCE. Driving home this point are two top recruiters at Motorola headquarters in Schaumburg, IL.
Billy Dexter is Manager of University Relations and Rodney Gee is Manager of Staffing for the Land Mobile Products Sector. This sector is one of six in the company, and each sector can get up to 600 resumes per week from executives, professionals, and new graduates. "I have 900 resumes on my desk right now," said Gee.
"A resume must be clear and tell us what you really want to do. Lead us in the direction you want to go," they said during a conference call.
Always steer clear of using fluff words in your summary such as "Self-motivated, hands-on professional with an excellent track record of..." Let's face it. The first two items in this sentence could be said about almost anyone. As for your track record, let the employer decide if it's excellent by reading about your abilities (on top) and your duties and accomplishments (under the Employment section). Avoid the ubiquitous (and space-filling) "References Available Upon Request" at the bottom of your resume. If employers really want your references, they'll ask. When conducting a confidential job search, consider "CONFIDENTIAL RESUME" at the top of your resume, and/or stating this in your cover letter. Always respect the reader's intelligence!
"Predigest" Your Information
Employers really don't want to think when they're reading resumes. Why trust an employer to study your entire work history and hope they find something interesting? Most resumes get only a few short seconds to grab the reader's attention.
Research the company's brochure, annual report and job advertisement, if any, and tailor your resume as much as possible to the position.
If you have a Chronological resume, no matter how well it's written, it's still a listing of your past, and therefore not job specific or future-oriented. Your resume must be a brief advertisement. How many resumes are actually written along these lines? Very few.
Some Final Thoughts
Although personal networking is the best way to get a job, having an excellent resume is another way, often just by itself, to get an interview which can lead to a job.
Of course, a brief cover letter should be targeted to the hiring authority whenever possible. Tell the reader what you know about their operation, and why you want to work specifically for his/her company. Make them feel like they're the only person getting your resume. Be sure to check the tips on correct resume use below the quotes at the end of this page.
When treated as a genuine writing project and not just something you "put together," your resume becomes a professional advertisement and really can get you more, high-quality interviews. It can also save you time, money, and frustration. Consider this: a resume that's only slightly more effective than the one you have now could help you get a job weeks, or even months sooner than your old resume.
Your resume is your life, your career on paper. Isn't it worth doing right?