New year, new resume. As 2014 approaches it might be a good idea to dust off your resume and update it. There are just some things that might keep you from standing out from the pile of resumes companies receive.
“Most job seekers know how to NOT land a job: prepare a resume, send it out and wait for the offers to come rolling in. The traditional route overlooks real world realities: winners don’t ‘apply’ for jobs; they market themselves. The job search is really a beauty pageant. A smashing haircut, a crisp new outfit and a no-nonsense diet are far more important than a cookie-cutter resume,” says Mark Stevens, CEO and bestselling author of, “Your Marketing Sucks.”
But how do you know if your resume lacks punch? “Your resume lacks oomph if it bores you when you read it,” says Neely Raffellini, owner of Splash Resumes, a personal branding studio that writes and designs resumes. “Also, you should be excited and confident to present it to people. If not, take action and fix it.”
Keep your resume timely. “Another common piece of advice is to remove anything that is older than 10 years. However, this is not always the case,” Donna L. Shannon, president of The Personal Touch Career Services, points out. If the job seeker is looking for a senior management job, chopping off half of her experience will actually screen her out. To determine how much experience should be listed, review the job description. If they are asking for 10-15 years’ experience, listing 20 is fine. If all they want is someone with 7-10 years’ experience, then reduce the jobs listed to only the past 10 years.”
What to delete
Give your resume a brand new look by taking off some unnecessary items. “Delete an objective statement, references or ‘references available on request,’ high school information (unless you are a freshman in college),and anything not relevant to the position you are applying for,” advises Rich Grant, president of the Maine College Career Consortium and blogger at RichCareer.net.
Also, you don’t need to include your college information. “Unless you have finished college in the last year and have little to no formal professional experience, remove your date of college and graduate school graduation,” says Amy L. Adler, CEO, Five Strengths Career Transition Experts. “Every recruiter and hiring manager will add 22 years to the date of your graduation to guess your age, which sets you up for potential age discrimination whether they are right or wrong. Instead, engage the hiring manager with your career accomplishments.” Adds Shannon, “List your education, but omit the year of graduation if it is significantly older than the last job listed on the resume.”
You don’t need to title your resume. “Take the word ‘Resume’ off the top of your resume,” suggests Adler. “Instead, replace it with a relevant, brandable headline that describes exactly who you are and what you offer a future hiring executive. For example, ‘General Manager, Global Luxury Hotels’ describes the role and the industry in which this candidate has succeeded.”
Your potential employer doesn’t need to know your school grades. “Don’t include your grade point average. If you graduated with honors, include the Latin. But not numbers. Numbers make you sound desperate,” says Mary Westropp of Boston-based career company New Directions..
Nothing sends the wrong message to job recruiters than a resume riddled with errors. “Avoid mistakes — typos, misspellings and grammatical errors. Your final draft should be letter-perfect,” says Westropp.
Just because you work in an industry with a particular jargon, doesn’t mean you need to write with it in your resume. “Do you use too much techno-speak? Translate that gibberish back into plain English so any reader can immediately understand every word you have to say. If you must use trade-specific language, make sure you then quickly translate for your reader so you keep him or her with you every step of the way. Watch TV ads and notice how simple the language is. That’s how you sell,” advises Westropp.
How To Jazz Up Your Resume:
• Make your point: “Your bullet points for your jobs need to be about accomplishments, not job duties,” says Grant. “Lead your bullet point with an action verb.”
• Quantify, quantify, quantify: “If there were metrics associated with your accomplishments, amplify your achievements with numbers. For example, ‘Increased client engagement’ certainly describes an accomplishment. However, ‘Increased client engagement by 14% in 18 months through hands-on coaching on new online customer intranet’ has much more depth,” notes Adler.
• Skip the obvious: “Take out obvious or mundane info (for example, if you worked at a sandwich shop, you don’t need to say ‘made sandwiches’ on your resume),” says Grant.
• Replace Objective With Passion: “Use a passion statement for your summary/profile introductory paragraph. Smart managers hire people who are passionate about what they do,” notes Shannon.
• Power It Up: “Stop being ‘responsible for’ your areas of professional oversight. Instead, power your resume with active verbs that demonstrate your on-the-job successes,” says Adler.
• Watch that font: “Use a type size that is large enough to be readable but not so large that it looks like a school assignment,” advises Adler. “Most typefaces are highly readable at 11 points. A good rule of thumb is not to drop text size below 10 points and not to go above 11 points, but every type face is different, so choose the size based on the font.” Adds career coach Karen Southall Watts, “Ditch old-school formatting like Times New Roman, two spaces at the end of sentences, and over use of bold text. Instead, opt for cleaner lines.”
• Give it a dash of color: “Create a branded visual look for the document that incorporates color, informational elements (graphs, charts, text boxes, or a logo) that helps communicate your brand and unique achievements,” says executive career coach Cheryl Lynch Simpson.
• Show off your specialty: “Employers assume you have basic knowledge about computer software. I only make mention of specialty software programs (such as programming languages, design software, etc.) on a resume,” says Raffellini.
• Space out the time: “Separate pre-2000 work experience into an early career history section and remove employment dates — instead list the total amount of time employed in each role. Be careful not to list amounts that demonstrate too much experience for given roles (i.e., if a job requires 15-18 years of experience and you have 25, don’t list more than 18 total),” offers Simpson.
• Use today’s language: “Research your key words well – what may have been right three years ago may not be the current terminology now,” says Shannon. “Use those key words in a hefty skills section – HR uses this area to screen candidates and managers read the skills to see if you know how to do the job.”
• Transferable skills: “If you are a career changer, think about how your skills transfer, not necessarily your job titles. The best way to do this is a hybrid resume format of a chronological and a functional resume,” says Raffellini. Adds Watts. “Focus on your transferable skills and list them in the top 1/3 (prime real estate) of your resume. These are the skills that would make you a good hire in almost any position.”
• Give tech a try: “Hyperlink your resume to any of your online accomplishments—LinkedIn profile, professional videos or articles, news items about you–through out the resume think ‘accomplishments’ and not ‘job duties’,” Watts.