Essential Building Blocks For Building A Standout Resume
Building a professional resume is fundamental for any job search. Here are the essential building blocks for building a standout resume. Many of these essentials are overlooked constantly and you can differentiate yourself from the crowd if you can carefully implement each one.
Experience – 30 minute task
Sit down in sessions of 5 minutes and write down all of the following:
- Work experience – company name, position, duration at company, 3 bullet points of the major projects and tasks that you worked on
- Leadership organizations/clubs – the clubs and organizations in which you held a leadership role are a good launching point
- Volunteer activities or any non-profit involvement – if you have volunteered, write out detailed descriptions of your involvement.
- Hobbies – List 5 hobbies and explain them in 1-2 words per hobby. It is important to give some personality and context to the resume or even interesting facts. Employers want to see your entire package. Do not put hobbies that you cannot discuss.
- Bullet points – Use bullet points to divide the responsibilities within each job. At the top of your resume, the first three bullet points for your most recent job are key to your whole resume. Recruiters will scan your skills or background and immediately look at the first 3 bullet points. If they feel that they do not see enough value being created or anything impactful / clear to the job description, they immediately move on to the next resume. Make the bullet points count.
- College – List the university name, major and minor (if applicable), GPA, and other pertinent or interesting classes.
After completion of this exercise, you now have the backbone for your resume.
Here are the resume strategies that I give to all my clients:
Recruiters are scanning hundreds of resumes and they only spend 2-3 minutes on each resume. Your resume needs to do the following:
- Look professional – appropriate spacing on page with adequate margins.
- Easy on the eyes – All font should be consistent and organized across all sections
- Free of grammatical errors – proofread & proofread again. Grammatical errors are unacceptable and it shows that you are not detailed oriented which is critical for most jobs.
- Words should be spaced out evenly. Do not add extra spaces so your resume looks fuller and do not reduce the margins on the page to cram additional information. Everything should flow visually.
- Resume length – I suggest 1 page only but if you have many years of experience at different positions, you may need 2 pages.
- If you feel that you are cramming a lot of information on the page, try to focus on the important tasks and accomplishments at each position. If you find yourself struggling to add more details then try to think of all the important aspects to your job or look at the initial job description when you applied for the position. Otherwise, just leave it short.
- Content is king. You need to have good content that explains each position clearly but also highlights key takeaways from each job.
- Be concise and pick strong action verbs to describe each task
- Numbers, numbers, numbers. Numbers paint a clear picture for recruiters because it shows the real impact that you have made on the job. It also gives the employer a method to quantify the impact on each job
- Example – I made a lot of sales in the company and managed relationships well. Versus – I consistently cleared my quota every month and was the #2 performer out of 50 sales associates at the firm. I managed 5 out of the 10 most profitable client relationships and on-boarded 5 more clients in the top 20.
- Do not just regurgitate your job description – it is critical to explain the impact of your role
- Explain any process improvements that you made or helped to develop during your time on the job
- It is important to also focus on team projects – not just individual accomplishments. Most positions, if not all, will require you to work well with others. Employers want to see clear examples of teamwork and your contribution to the company goal.
- Be sure to highlight any promotions or accolades received during your time at each company. If you were not promoted, but you were on the fast track or specific corporate route, you can incorporate it too.
The Company’s Perspective
- How do you add value?
- Why will you be a good resource to the company?
- Every time you write a description, pretend that you are recruiter. Does this statement give an accurate description of the roles and work that you did on the job? Did you add value to your past jobs or did you simply just do the minimum? Did you create new opportunities or create new processes to improve the company?
- Added value in past jobs is a good indicator of value creation ability in future jobs. Each line item must answer the question of how you added value. If you find yourself reading the description and it does not state clearly how you made an impact, rewrite it or remove it.
Get a 2nd opinion
Send your resume out to 3-5 coworkers, friends and professionals in your field. Get their feedback on your resume for the below categories:
- Visual Appeal
- Value added
- Relevant activities
By getting another set of eyes on your resume, they will be able to point out either discrepancies in your resume or provide guidance to improve your overall content.
Also, review the resumes of your colleagues and professionals in your target job – you will get a better idea of the requirements and skills necessary for each job
Information has to be accurate
- Do not lie or exaggerate on your resume. This is important to remember because if you are asked about certain points and you cannot explain it clearly, it will reflect very poorly on your whole interview.
Remember that your resume is a screenshot of your background, experiences and accomplishments. Having mistakes shows employers that you do not take pride in your work. Your resume is their first exposure to you. Make it count. How do you want to be viewed?