Why? Experience tells me that resumes in one form or another are likely to be around for quite a while yet, but that doesn’t matter if yours is lifeless when an employer sees it!
RESUMES NOT WORTH THE PAPER THEY’RE ON
Over the years several people have supposedly said something like “a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on” (Samuel Goldwyn). Assuming he was actually referring to an oral contract (that is, not words on paper), this makes a convoluted kind of sense!
What does this have to do with your resume? If your resume doesn’t communicate the critical message you need to share with prospective employers–your potential value to them–it’s essentially worthless for your job search. If it bores the reader, you’re done before you start. You won’t reach first base, much less hit a home run.
One important point: Your resume is not supposed to provide exhaustive detail about your work experience for the past 20 years or more. It needs to do much more than that, but in fewer words–and it needs to do it from the get-go.
DOES YOUR RESUME HIT THE TARGET?
If an employer glances at your resume (and glance might be all he/she does), will it clearly indicate that you can add significant value in the role you’re targeting? If it doesn’t do that, beginning with the opening profile, you might need a miracle to get employer attention and interest. Here are a few points to consider for the opening section:
- Clear, focused section heading: Using a heading such as “Summary” or “Career Profile” (unless it has a couple of critical keywords attached) doesn’t capture attention. The reader has zero idea of what you can do and want to do for the company. Even just using a position title (such as “Senior Sales Executive”) is better than a vague, generic heading.
- Compelling message that distinguishes you from your competition: We used to see wording like, “Progressive career opportunity with potential to make a difference in a dynamic company.” Sometimes we still do–and if you’re using wording such as that, it could be fatal to the success of your job search. For example, a professional resume should do much more than indicate that the individual is “competent” or “qualified.” Many of your competitors could probably describe themselves that way as well. What is it that you do better than your competition, if they do it at all?
- Critical keywords used effectively: Sometimes we use a short list (two or three columns) of relevant keywords. However, this doesn’t necessarily add impact to your opening profile, especially if the same words could apply equally well to your competition. Make a point of picking terms that you can enhance, such as “On-Time Project Completion” versus “Project Completion” or “Profitable Contract Negotiation” vs. “Contract Negotiation.”
- Core value message that employers care about: If, for example, you have a reputation for turning around one struggling organization after another, your opening profile should find a suitably impressive way to communicate that, as concisely as possible. If that particular message wouldn’t resonate with your target employers, what would?