What is a résumé for? If you think the answer is “to get me a job” you’re expecting way too much. Understanding this, and the process your résumé starts, will help you produce a far more effective résumé that achieves the results it’s meant to.
It’s a Marketing Piece
The ultimate job of the résumé is to get you the interview. That’s it. Nothing more. It is the very rare and unusual case where a résumé results directly in a hire. Almost all hiring managers fully understand that there’s more to an employee than a list of what they’ve done in the past. They want to know more about who they are and what they’ll do in the future.
Aligning Needs with Intentions
Nobody hires anybody just for the heck of it. There’s always a need behind every hire. Things that must be done well, and ultimately contribute to the hiring company’s bottom line.
Many résumés begin with a Statement of Objectives that usually describes what the applicant wants to do and achieve. That’s great, but not what will move a hiring manager.
The hiring manager wants to know what’s in it for them. What value does this applicant intend to bring? What contributions will they make to the company’s benefit and profit? Do they understand the important exchange of produced value for continued training and growth? If you must call it your “objective” keep that word “intention” in the back of your mind, and extend it to say “what contributions do I intend to make to this company once they’ve hired me?”
Beyond all else, remember that hiring managers are potential customers seeking value, return from their next investment, which will be in you. The role of the résumé is to convince them that you may have considerable value to bring, so they really should meet you.
Confirm That You Qualify
Many positions have specific requirements and pre-requisites. Go beyond confirming that you have all the necessary credentials. Illustrate the excellence with which you’ve put those qualifications into use. When the hiring manager is finished reading the résumé they must know everything they need to know so their first thought will be, “We must get this person in here for an interview.”
Don’t Just Write It – Produce It
Again, your résumé is a marketing piece. The look and feel of it sends a message that prompts a response. If it’s crisp and clear and easy to read it stands a better chance of getting read. If the important points jump off the page, there’s a greater likelihood that the hiring manager will scan them to get a better idea of how valuable it would be to read it carefully. The look you’re seeking to achieve varies with the role and the business but it’s important to keep it professional and attractive.
Don’t go crazy with fonts, colors, and illustrations. That’s overproducing the résumé. Work toward a professional, responsible, easy-to-consume look.
Many hiring managers will simply discard a résumé should they spot a typographic error. Their reasoning is that if the applicant can’t pay sufficient attention to the quality of their own presentation, how can they be expected to pay proper attention to the company’s work? Don’t allow typos to get through final production.
Also, don’t just make lists. Many résumés consist of lists of “accomplishments”, “activities”, or “job functions” at each position previously held. Hiring managers don’t learn much from lists. They want “reasons why”, reasons why what you’ve done has prepared you to perform with excellence the tasks they will be assigning to you. It’s not enough to just report what you’ve done. You must announce it and align it directly to their needs.
Use boldface to emphasize the things that are important. Many résumé writers default to boldfacing the companies the candidate has worked for. If you’ve worked for impressive companies, then by all means boldface their names. On the other hand, if you’ve held impressive positions with a history of ever-increasing responsibility, bold-face the titles you’ve held. Emphasize the value that is important to the hiring company.
Finally, Fine Tuning
Strike the word “can” from your résumé. “Can” suggests that you may be able to do a thing, but not necessarily that you will. It’s uncertain. Not definitive. You want everything about your résumé to be definitive, hard-hitting, and convincing. You produce results. Not you “can” produce results.
Apply the same thinking to your verbs. Make them active, exciting verbs. You didn’t achieve your objective. You exceeded expectations. You knocked it out of the park.
The final element is to consider how your résumé will reach hiring managers. Postal mail is probably your worst choice, followed by email. Job boards may be a wasteland.
The hands-down very best way to get your résumé into someone’s hands is to have someone they know and trust put it there. Think about it. Which would you prefer to introduce you to a potential employer; a piece of paper, or a person they trust? Networking is the way of the world today and you’re best served by leveraging your network to find someone who will deliver you to success.
The Next Step
Okay. Your résumé has done its job. You have the interview. Next comes preparation, and then execution. These are meant to help you obtain the employment you seek. Go for it.