Resume Buffs

Updated: Mar 20

You ARE your resume

Let's talk about your resume. As you know, you only have a very limited amount of time to impress the reader with your resume and talents. In my world, this is around 3 seconds...if I like what I see, I keep reading, if I don't, you are set aside. I am not unique. If it is a human viewing your resume, you can expect the same. If it is software reviewing your resume - that is something entirely different and warrants another newsletter article.

Have you ever taken the time to think about what your resume says about you? I have found that a lot of people creating their resume just want to get the information down quickly to apply to a job they just found. Many don’t really put a lot of thought into what the resume is saying about them.

A resume is one of the most important documents that you will send out in your lifetime. Don’t believe it? Think about it a little more... Your resume is one of the top methods to help you secure a job and financial income. The effort you put into your resume or lack thereof is a direct reflection of you.

When your resume arrives at a hiring manager’s doorstep (ok, these days it is usually an inbox J ), you literally have seconds to make it into their shortlist. If you have done a poor job of creating your resume as you rushed it or didn’t really know how to put it together and target it to the job, you may have made some very damaging mistakes - mistakes that will instantly get you thrown into the discard pile. You see, you are not the only one competing for this job, so when hiring managers see a poorly designed, poorly worded or resume full of spelling or grammatical mistakes, it means you didn’t take the time to ensure the quality of your application. As this is one of your most important documents, hiring managers make the direct link to how you how you might perform on the job. Mistakes and poor design on the resume translate to mistakes and poor performance on the job.

A nice well-thought out and organized resume that is clear, concise, has adequate spacing, appropriate and professional wording that has no spelling mistakes speaks volumes about the applicant.

Amaze them and become a “keeper”

So, 3 seconds...what is it that you are going to do to make yourself stand out on your resume - in a good way? How are you going to capture my attention and "wow" me to keep reading? There are a few ways, let's concentrate on perhaps the most important one, accomplishments.

What are your top Accomplishments? No, I am not talking about the fact that you managed to put together the desk that you bought from IKEA (though that is an accomplishment as I do know how complicated that can be)...I am taking about high level , powerful, impressive, WOW accomplishments that directly relate to the type of position you are seeking!

Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

· Have you won any impressive awards?

· Have you had any public recognition for your efforts on something?

· Have you implemented anything, created anything that truly made a difference to the company i.e. cost savings, time savings, increase in sales, decrease in product returns, decrease in turnover etc.?

Now, the next thing you want to do is try to think about any statistics, numbers you can add to your accomplishments. Numbers talk. Impressive numbers speak volumes. So, let's say you did implement a new "xyz" system that decreased costs in "abc". By how much did your new system decrease these costs? By what percentage? What about customer satisfaction rates, did your new process increase measured customer satisfaction - how? by what?

Here are a couple of other examples to help you start thinking about this:

· Renegotiated contracts with Oracle, HP Service, Cisco and Microsoft reducing costs of approx. $2 million/yr while keeping the same service levels.

· Progressively designed, developed and implemented an Electronic Journal Viewer that significantly reduced paper proof tape archiving from 7 years to 3 months.

I suggest getting a good list together of these top accomplishments such that you can pick and choose which ones to include - usually about 4 or 5 in the resume you are submitting. You will want to choose the ones that best relate to the role you are applying to. Put this list of accomplishments near the top of your resume - after maybe a profile statement about yourself.

This is just one tip of many...but one that can help make the difference between the "set aside" pile and the "in" pile.

Five steps to resume success

Your “buff” checklist.

  1. Don’t just do a spell a grammar check too! READ through your resume, ensure you didn’t leave out any words, change tenses, need an “s” or added an “s” where one is not needed....

  2. If your resume is not in the language that you are most familiar with, ensure you get a second set of eyes to review it. Having someone review your resume when that language IS their “mother tongue” can help reduce errors that could cost you an interview and job!

  3. Gear your resume to the type of jobs you are applying with. Look for commonalities in the types of jobs and ensure your resume reflects those skills! When we are reading your resume, we want to see that you indeed have the skill set we are looking for!

  4. Think about being that person that is going to be reviewing the hundreds of resumes that are submitted for a particular position. What is going to make YOU stand out in the pile? Is your resume interesting to read? Does it pull the reader in? What is it that makes you stand out – in a good way?

  5. Ensure your resume is concise, it gives the information the reader is looking for but does not go on and on and lose the reader in the process. Get to the point, list your experience, your skills, but don’t go into your life story – save that for the interview if you are asked for additional detail – but be careful there too.... give a precise answer.

When do I need a buff?

If you have been using the same resume with minimal results - there is something wrong. Re-vamp it or get a professional to do it. If you are just starting to look at job changes part of your New Year's resolution, get your resume prepped now. Make sure it "Speaks" what you are looking for, highlights your qualifications and shows an absolute match to the type of role you would be applying to.

Christie Ferguson, CHRP, CHRL runs an independent HR consulting firm with a broad range of services. She has extensive experience with hiring and hiring support services for individuals and employers.

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