If you are scratching your head at these questions, your resume could be your problem. A bad resume can negatively impact your job search, sometimes eliminating you from consideration for your perfect job. It may be hindering you more than helping you. For the executive job seeker, they are your opportunity to "make your case" for why you should be hired. A resume should summarize your achievements, skills, and education appropriate to the position you are seeking without being inaccurate or misleading. People often reject the idea that a resume is a "selling" document, but, if it is effective, that's exactly what it does.
You are marketing your services to employers. It's your job to show the employer that you are the right person for the job, and your resume is the starting point for that show. You are your product, sell yourself!
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Basic truth about resumes: The purpose for your resume is to get you invited to interview for a job. Your resume should open the door to a new job for you by:. By the s, freestanding resumes became common enough to be described in business textbooks. Business correspondence manuals from the first half of the 20th century instructed candidates to use their cover letters to convey personality, with resumes reserved for factual details only. Accordingly, the human element vanished from resumes.
Learn How to Write an Effective Resume for Your Career
They became less an instrument of persuasion than a bill of lading, or a list of ingredients. Once resumes became instruments for marketing candidates as products, their writers began to refer to themselves in the third person, and adopted the bizarre convention of the subjectless sentence, where personal pronouns disappear. As employers began to expect resumes from every job candidate, a new cadre of professional resume writers began to form that helped further standardize the format.
Often, they were former secretaries, skilled at writing and adept at formatting with typewriters, according to Mary Jo King, the president of the National Resume Writers Association , a nonprofit group with about members. The golden age of resume writing was in the s and early s, when personal computers allowed anyone to format and write their own resumes with ease. But the advent of the internet and email would soon mean job ads could be seen nationally, and resumes began flooding into large employers electronically.
Software was developed to manage the flow by screening those new documents digitally, and choke down the number to a manageable trickle that could be read by humans. They were engineered to look for keywords, and nothing else.
She helped identify the qualifications the firm used when choosing exceptional candidates to interview. But after the new hires with the glittering resumes began at the company, McTaggart noticed they rarely were her best performers. The real stars came from unconventional backgrounds—one went to an obscure university in Jordan, another studied marine biology. Usually they were hired because they were referred by another employee who sensed they might thrive at the firm. You have the world of candidates—you have to be able to reduce that to a number.
In her frustration, McTaggart recognized a business opportunity. Last July, she launched SquarePeg , a startup that tests the soft skills of job seekers and provides the results to employers, who pay for a curated slate of candidates. So far, 40 companies have signed up and 15, job seekers have taken the test and are looking for a job.
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Squarepeg is just one of a number of startups looking to exploit the flaws of resumes and ATS, and provide a more sophisticated match between job seekers and employers. Gap Jumpers works to blind resumes by asking applicants to take a subject-specific test provided by employers, then offering the results stripped of names or identifying characteristics. CodeFights , a site which provides training for aspiring computer coders, connects tech employers with potential hires, depending on how the programmers perform on coding competitions on the site.
Another strategy is to introduce personality assessments earlier in the hiring process, to the widest part of the recruitment funnel, to prevent possible stars from slipping through the cracks in ATS, or from being dropped because of conscious or unconscious bias in the interview process. Personality tests are not new in business, of course. But until recently they were primarily administered either late in the hiring process or as part of the onboarding of new employees. The goal is to eliminate needless rounds of interviews, while getting a more precise fix on the qualities in candidates that may actually help them succeed at the company.
How do you prepare a resume for these disparate audiences and purposes?
What mattered most about writing your resume in high school? What was the story you were trying to tell with that resume? You just had to show that, well, you were diligent not lazy, smart not dumb, detail-oriented not sloppy.
That kind of thing. So somebody in school gave you a set of rules designed to tell the story of a teenager who could do the kind of job an adult would assign a teenager. These writing rules included:. One of the reasons why I became a source of career advice to my friends and people who found me on LinkedIn is that I pulled off two career pivots.
I started coding, pivoted to product management, and then pivoted again to marketing. Variety gives us life.
Resume Review: How to Find Qualified Candidates
But a lot of people feel stuck in a career track, and they wish they were doing something else. If this is you, I have good news: You can do it! And it starts with asking yourself what job you want next. Talk to people with that job. Read job descriptions on career websites. Define the skills and experiences a hiring manager would want to see.
Now look at your resume. Which bullets are the most relevant to that job? Mark those. You are going to give those the most attention on your new resume. Add those and mark them. But use these rules. Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to hire a liaison. Congratulations, you went to meetings.
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Responsibilities fill space on your resume. Like the remnant of an Amazon shipment, you should stab them with a scissor and throw them in the recycling bin. Your career performance is unique, but lots of people have held jobs similar to yours. You are not your old job descriptions. You see? Do your best to calculate them. Even if you have to be general about it.
Just make sure your results are true and real. More on that later. Deleting a task you owned in may feel like throwing away a treasure. You earned that bullet on your resume, after all.