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The Secret to Success with Resumes

August 28, 2019

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Résumés are like politics and religion; everyone has an opinion

Recently I helped an individual prepare a résumé that resulted in two job interviews in one week. She had been job searching for months with no success, but after she made just a few modifications she was getting more interviews than she could handle.

I want to discuss the things you can do differently to maximize your résumé and help you be the one who is beating back recruiters with a stick.

We are going to look at things like formatting. I’ll give you a few points on tailoring your résumé. Then we will wrap up with tips on how to help your résumé really stand out.

Remember to KISS your résumé: keep it short and simple

There are many different types of formats you can use for your résumé. There are chronological résumés, functional résumés, even combination résumés. Plus there are phone apps, résumé writing services, and a myriad of templates available to help you get nice and confused.

The key to formatting your résumé is to make sure you keep things simple. Having borders, multiple and complex fonts, or pictures will make everything look cluttered and disorganized. Is this the message you want to send to an employer? Keep things clean, polished and conservative. You don’t want the “look” of your résumé distracting from the skills and experience you are trying to highlight.

Swimming in résumés

How many résumés do you think you should have? One? Ten? The answer is simple and yet somehow overlooked by many job seekers. You should have a master résumé with all of your information. You should then use the master résumé to create a tailored approach for each job you apply for.

You don’t have to recreate your résumé, but you can adjust the wording and order of each section to highlight your skills in a way that appeals to the particular position. Use the job description and the company’s website to find out what is important to the company, and use this to make decisions about your résumé and portfolio.

Executive chef applies for an unrelated position

I had a person apply for a position in my office. This person sent me a résumé showing he is an amazing executive chef. I wasn’t hiring an executive chef! Make sure the first thing the employer reads says you are qualified for the position you are applying for.

Your message should be solving the employer’s problem. Your résumé and portfolio should convey that message as quickly as possible. Tailoring the materials is the most important step in getting the attention of the employer.

Finally, never send a résumé without a purposeful cover letter. I’ll be discussing cover letters in a future blog post.

As I wrote at the beginning of the blog, résumés are like politics and religion; everyone has an opinion. When you are developing your résumé, the only opinion that matters is the employer’s. If you are making decisions based on how you help the employer, then you are making the right decision. The one true test of a résumé: Does it get you an interview?

Starting today, make a promise to yourself to never send an unfocused, generic résumé. Do this and you will start seeing more interviews.

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Thank you, and remember: Job seeking is a game of inches.