You’ve heard it before: Ask 10 people to look at your resume and you’ll get 10 different opinions. So what’s a self-respecting job seeker in the throes of unemployment angst supposed to do?
Here’s my advice for what to include in your resume to help you stand out:
One of the things that drives me crazy about resumes–and I look at a lot of them–is when people don’t put a summary on the top of their resume.
A summary accomplishes two things: It guides the reader so they fully understand a) what you know how to do, and b) what you would like to do with your unique blend of accomplishments.
This is not brain surgery, but it does require the author to do the work of reflecting and then articulating what those two items are. It is packaging, and it is your job to do it.
If you do not do this and you are looking for a position that is not a replica of the others on your resume, you will fail to attract the kind of attention you want.
Include Your Differences
Is there something cool in your background that you’re proud of but are unsure of whether it goes on a resume? Unless it’s weird or subversive, I advise including it.
Why? Because you never know what’s going to attract a resume reader to you. Everyone has interests outside of work, and your ability to connect to others with the same interests may make or break your candidacy. Here are a couple of examples:
- A couple of years ago I spoke with a recruiter from a major investment bank whose job it is to hire recent college grads. She told me that whenever she sees the resume of a candidate who rowed crew in college, she automatically asks them in for an interview. Why? Because she can be certain they are goal-oriented, tough enough to get up early in the morning in all kinds of weather, and are great team-players.
- I had a client who had done some amateur acting and had had small parts on a couple of crime shows like CSI. Everyone loves these shows; they’ve been a big reason for the widespread interest in forensic science in the past 10 years. My client was applying for a position in hospital administration, and when the hiring manager saw her resume she immediately called her for an interview. After spending the entire meeting answering questions about the experience of being on crime shows, my client was hired.
Focus on Impact, Not Tactics
Your future employer doesn’t care what you did in your last job. Instead, they care about what you fixed, improved or augmented. When you’re working on those key bullet points, think statistics if possible. If not, share things you created, designed or led.
If you follow this advice, your resume should present your best self, in full color.