"What Do You Think of My Resume?"
If I had a dollar for every time I have been asked this question over my career, I would have a very different relationship with my bank.
Everyone has an opinion on a resume.
The result is that well-meaning candidates can be sent on a wild goose chase trying to produce the perfect resume;
the one that most effectively depicts their experience and achievements, is keyword optimised whilst reflecting enough of their personality that the recruiter will want to pick up the phone and actually speak to them.
Here is a sample of some recent opinions on resumes I have heard being thrown around by career coaches and recruiters:
“Your resume should be no more than two pages long.”
“Do not include your headshot on your resume as it will invite unconscious bias”
“Leave out your role responsibilities and just focus on your achievements in each role.”
“Remove your home address because recruiters will form assumptions about how far you are willing to commute each day.”
“Focus on what you offer versus who you are.”
“You need to reflect what is unique about you.”
Is anyone else confused?
As a recruiter who has spent the past 15 years reading thousands of resumes, I have opinions about what I like to see on a resume and some of them are contrary to the next recruiter, and certainly different to some of the above opinions. What I am saying is that I have opinions - and they are exactly that.
What I do know is that most job seekers would agree that investing time and/or money into producing a decent resume is worthwhile.
There are lots of innovative resume writing services popping up that will do the leg work for you these days. However, if you intend to, “go it alone,” my opinion is that after you have included the basics (which I will offer my humble opinion on below),
you can then be selective about what pearls of wisdom you pick from the sea of available resume advice.
When it comes to opinions on the finer detail - listen, take it in, and then decide on what resonates with you.
For example, if you have a mug shot that you have paid good money for, think it depicts your personality well, and frankly, you like the cut of your own gib in it, then go ahead and insert it into your front page. The first thing most recruiters will do these days is pull up your LinkedIn profile, so they are going to see it eventually.
If your resume is three or four pages long, and you need the extra space to capture the detail of your many achievements, go on then - push onto page three. The two-page rule, in my opinion, is a relic of a past, candidate abundant market where speed reading resumes was the aim of the recruitment game. Here I go with another opinion: What actually matters is the first page of your resume. If a recruiter likes what they see on the first page, they will read on. Whether that involves reading another one or two or three extra pages will be inconsequential at that point. I am not advocating a resume that is ten pages long, but anything up to five pages is completely reasonable.
THE BASICS TO GET RIGHT ON YOUR RESUME:
In my opinion, the first page should include:
Your name at the top.
Your professional tag line: Directly underneath your name, a few words that summarise what you do for a crust, inclusive of relevant keywords. For me, it would be something like this: Nicola Crocco Executive Recruitment and Search Specialist
Core competencies and strengths: A summary of the top strengths and competencies that you leverage daily to achieve results. Keep it succinct, ideally three to five. If you are in a highly technical profession, this would be where you list your core technical skills and relevant systems knowledge.
Career Highlights: Top two or three career-defining achievements that speak to financial outcomes, people and leadership outcomes, operational improvement and innovation. You can tailor this according to the role you are applying for, of course.
Career summary: Really important. A tabulated summary of every role you have held detailing Company, Position and Dates of Employment (month and year).
MY OPINIONS BEYOND PAGE ONE:
As I have said, if you get the first page right and the recruiter chooses to read on, the hard work is done and the rest of your resume is an opportunity for elaboration.
Role by role, clearly outline your employer, a short company description (one sentence here) your job title and dates of employment (month and year).
Outline key responsibilities: You only need a few points here, specifically, the dimensions of each role across high-level accountabilities such as strategic growth objectives, financial management and team reports.
Focus more energy and space on your key achievements: Include lots of hard data here across people, process and operations, financial outcomes and innovation. This is where you can emphasise the value that you can offer a future employer in a tangible way, backed-up with facts and figures.
The reason that there are so many opinions about resumes is that they are predominantly read by people who are filtering the information through an individual frame of reference. Just as we all have differing tastes in friends, fashion, sports, books and music, we have differing tastes in resumes. Rather than going on a wild goose chase to achieve a universally perfect resume (which I suggest is an impossible task), I recommend getting the basics right. The rest comes down to your appetite to ask for opinions, weigh them up against your preferences and arrive at a result that best reflects you.
There is no right or wrong. There are only opinions when it comes to resumes.
Please contact us if we can assist you with your job search or for further market feedback on this topic or other recruitment-related topics. We have our fingers on the pulse of what’s going on out there.