It’s 12 minutes to the puck drop for the gold medal women’s hockey game. I am way too distracted to think about resumes.
Whether we win or not, it is sure to be inspiring and energizing and make me even prouder to be Canadian.
Now that your resume is ready to go and represents you in the best possible way, what will you do with it?
You could print a bunch of copies and carry them around with you. We carry coffee and water, why not resumes? Most people want you to send your resume. They don’t want to carry it around any more than you do.
There was a time when people carried little USB sticks with their resume saved on them. That still works but not great in practical terms. I have seen the tupperware that gets left in our canteen and using that as a baseline, I don’t think many people can or will keep track of a tiny little memory chip.
How about your phone? That works until you lose it or it falls in the toilet or dies just when you need it.
The simplest thing is to email the various versions of your resume to your own personal (not work!) email address. Then when you need it, you can sift through your inbox and forward the attachment with a nice note.
If you want a more robust (but still free) solution, set up a cloud folder. Dropbox, OneDrive or iCloud all offer free places to store your stuff in the cloud. You can access if from any laptop or desktop or from your phone if you install the app.
This lets you save the various versions or the modifications you make along the way. You could even start a log of your resume sending activities for follow up later.
But that’s for another day. For now, just work on getting your resume ready and having it handy.
Your resume represents you and your years of hard work. Make sure it looks great and is easy to read.
We all have hundreds of fonts and colours at our disposal. Pick something crisp and clean. Only a small percentage of people will print your resume. Most will view it on a screen. It might be a huge desktop monitor or it might be their phone. You want to minimize any kind of curlicues or super- decorative stuff that won’t translate well to a small screen.
Pay attention special characters as well. Straight forward bullets are fine but arrows and other fancy indentation markers can get mangled when they are opened in different formats.
Laying your education or career highlights out in boxes can be problematic as well. If you resume is parsed (translated) by an applicant tracking system, it will frequently make a total mess of non-text elements.
Arranging your content vertically as opposed to horizontally can change how a search engine will find you. Once your resume has been sucked into a company applicant system, recruiters use keywords to help sift through the database. Where those keywords are on the page will help determine where your resume falls in comparison to others.
For example, if I use “MBA” as a keyword, the first resumes that I see when I search will have MBA at the top of the page. If an unsuspecting candidate decided to put their hard-earned MBA in a cool box down the side of the page, the search engine might put that resume way further down the list.
There are many roles and organizations where having a cool or graphic or more creative resume makes sense. In that case, save it as a pdf. Most MS Word versions offer this as an option when you save a file.
A pdf is great because it will always look the way it did on your screen no matter who opens it.
There are couple of other file types to keep in mind. If you are dumping your resume into a company website, you will likely be asked for a “text” version. This is where all your special characters (like bullets) will get ugly. It makes sense to make a special text version and save it so you have it ready.
And there is nothing wrong with having a good old MS Word version. It is easy to change on the fly when someone asks for it and you need a quick update.
Now that your resume has the basic elements (background, education and experience), you can have some freedom to decide what else you want to include.
If you participate in a sport or extracurricular activity, you can definitely include it on the second or final page of your resume. These help to demonstrate the type of person you are and the things you care about. For example, you might finished marathons or triathlons or coached a little league baseball team. Each of them illustrates your character and your ability to set aside time to invest in these pursuits.
I wanted to include French cooking and ironing but, just because I spend time doing the task does not warrant valuable space on my resume.
Community and Volunteering
These activities are also good demonstrations of your values – especially if they happen to align with a hiring manager. The only caveat is to make sure that the information is real, recent and referable.
Running the stairs of the CN Tower is one thing. Helping to organize your company team to sign up, train, raise money and then participate, that’s the real value. That’s what will get recognized.
The experience should be recent. If you sat on the PTA when your child was in elementary school and that same child just graduated with a PhD , that does not count. If you don’t have something recent, leave it out.
You will be hard pressed to use a volunteer colleague as a reference but you never know who they know. It’s a small world. If you are going to put a role, paid or otherwise, on your resume, you better be prepared for someone to ask direct questions about it.
That covers most of the content. Next week, we will look at fonts, formats and graphics.
Resumes are as individual as people. Even when you use a Microsoft template, your document will still be different from other people’s documents.
Should you have an objective or not? There people on both side of the fence. It can be helpful to the reader if you lay out a clear objective.
Looking for long term role in a fast-paced customer service team.
You can also have more of a summary statement. The would be one or two lines that summarize what you bring to the table.
Senior Finance Leader with Expertise in Mergers, Acquisitions and Integrations.
This is one of the parts that can change depending on who will be reading it. If you are looking to do something different, you might want to work that into a statement about your next career objective.
Inside Sales Leader with great track record in consumer products looking to move in to an outside sales role.
If you want to do the same thing in a better place, a summary statement might make better use of the space.
For each job, you want to lay out the name of the company, your title, the dates you held the role and a few bullet points about what you did.
You can also add a link to their website and you can consider adding a line or two about what the company does. This is a good idea if you were toiling away in a company that no one has ever hear of before.
You can add a detail about why you left but this is not really necessary. You want to leave something to talk about during the interview.
Most people have details of at least ten years of experience. You can add more if it’s relevant but just stick to company, title and dates.
Your resume may up being two or three pages. There are no hard and fast rules about the length. What we do know if that the average recruiter will take 2-3 seconds to read your resume and decide to move you to the A pile or the B pile.
This means that the top half of the first page is where the most important material should go. Keep that in mind and make sure you maximize the use of that space. You only get one page to make a great impression.
Your resume is a bit like a big, detailed business card and having your resume ready and up to date should the first step in the journey to your next job. While you have a lot of freedom on what you want to include, there are some basic items that absolutely must be there.
Your name, email address and phone number are mandatory. You can put them at the top of the document or you can put it in the header. Bear in mind, if you put it in the header, when it is viewed in “preview” mode in MS Office, those details won’t show. They only show when they are in the body of the document. Weird, but true.
You can add all or part of your address. You might not want to share the exact details but it probably makes sense to put in your city. Prospective employers want to know you are in their typical commuting range.
Education is important. It can be listed at the top before your experience or on the second page, after your work details. Include everything after high school. Make sure to list the name of the school, the degree, diploma or certificate and the date that you graduated. Note that I said “graduated”. You can still include a program even if you did not complete it but mark it “incomplete” or “one course left” or “expected date of completion xx”. Don’t lie – it will bite you in the pants when you least expect it.
Finally, you need to have details about what you are doing now. Clearly lay out your title, basic responsibilities as well as the name and location of the company. You also need to let people know how long you have been in the role. If you are in transition, then use your last role.
It would be a pretty skinny resume if this is all you include but it would give someone a fairly good idea of where you are today. What’s missing is the milestones and achievements from the rest of your career.
You have a lot more flexibility with those elements. We will tackle those sections t0 get your resume ready next week.