Ask 10 people how to write a resume, and you’ll usually get 10 different answers. That’s because resumes, like clothes, go through trends. So if you want to keep your resume up to speed with today’s job market, taking action on these 3 tips should be at the top of your list.
1. Cut the Fat:
How long is your resume? If the answer is ‘more than 2 pages’ (and you’re not applying for a mid- to upper-management position), then your resume is just too long. Hiring managers don’t want to pore over long-winded details of your entire employment history; they want to find out if you have what they’re looking for, and they want to know FAST. So cut all the non-related fat from your resume, and get it down to a single page if you can.
How To Fix It: Remove any details about experience or education that don’t relate to the job you’re applying for. Just keep to the basic facts about these positions: What, where, and when. And forget about a ‘Hobbies & Interests’ section too: These are usually unnecessary padding and can turn an HR rep off.
Next, cut down the length of the sentences in your Summary of Qualifications and Achievement Statements. To paraphrase George Orwell, always ask yourself ‘Can I say it with fewer words?’ This is usually achieved by avoiding euphemisms and ‘corporate speak’ in your resume, and relying on plain, straightforward English.
2. Ditch the Objective Statement:
They may have been all the rage 5 years ago, but Objective Statements on a resume are a big ‘no-no’ in today’s job market.
The reason? Competition. With so many people competing for the same job, hiring managers are primarily interested in what a candidate has to offer. Starting a resume with a statement about what you want (your ‘Objective’) is considered the wrong approach, maybe even a little self-serving.
How To Fix It: Don’t try to alter/change/soften/strengthen your objective statement. JUST GET RID OF IT. It’s far better to lead off with your Summary of Qualifications or Career Highlights than keeping an objective statement. Even better, replace it with a great Profile Statement that sums up what you have to offer an employer in a concise way.
3. Get a Proofreader:
I know, I know: You never make spelling or grammar mistakes, right? Well guess what? Even a straight-A student with 5 Spelling Bee Championships can make horrible mistakes on a resume. Why? Because writing resumes and cover letters is very fatiguing, especially for people who don’t like to write. Spending 3 hours straight on a document that could change your life (for better or worse) is stressful, and that’s how mistakes get made. And enough mistakes is the difference between an resume that gets an interview and one that gets shredded.
How To Fix It: If you are someone who struggles with written English, there are options. Spell-check works for basic spelling and grammar, but it’s no substitute for a real proofreader. Ideally, you’re getting help from someone with real resume writing experience.
If you don’t have anyone who can help in this way, bring your resume to your local Work BC Centre, and the resource room staff will be happy to help proofread your application before you send it off to the employer.