By Marie Zimenoff
Career Thought Leaders & Resume Writing Academy
and Louise Kursmark
The paper resume and its electronic counterpart are not going anywhere fast. People still make hiring decisions today, and they use resumes as part of the process. Hiring managers are still trying to figure out how to dot the I's and cross the T's without that document.
People may say the resume is dying, and all you need is an online profile, bringing up an important question - what is a resume? Even if its form changes, the material itself is still a necessity. A resume is a synopsis of your career, value, and qualities, qualifications, and experiences. All of these will be of interest to an employer, regardless of the form. Likewise, it will be necessary for the candidate to control their narrative, no matter how they communicate.
So whether you are putting it on to a 1- or 2-page resume or a LinkedIn profile, it is still the same content. We need to be thinking about what we present and how we present it, what we highlight or downplay, and how we can make the most of the experiences that we have had.
Humans Still Hire humans
Scanning systems, keyword parsing technology, and or entry-level recruiters may select top candidates. But, inevitably, hiring comes down to 2 people sitting down in a business environment and having a conversation. And your client needs to be ready for that conversation and have documented proof of the stories they will share that HR can add to its official files.
The Resume-Writing Process Is Invaluable
If you are a job seeker, the process of writing a resume is valuable because it forces you to prioritize, focus, and tell the most relevant stories. What is the first thing you want people to see? What are your most relevant experiences and your achievements?
What will you place high up on the page? What will you eliminate from the document entirely because it is not relevant to the job? When you go through that process, you think about what the employers are looking for and how you can show them that you have it.
Writing a resume makes the relevant information, including success stories and achievements, fresh in your mind. This gives you a clear picture of who you are and why you are a great candidate for the job.
You may also get support from a resume writing specialist to help you through the process.
Stories Are Powerful
Stories are so powerful because they are specific, unique, and memorable. We always remember a story more than we remember generalities. When you tell a story, you describe solving a problem or challenge. First, describe the problem, situation, or challenge, then explain what you did about it, and then detail the result.
On your resume, you may just use the results, for example, “built a new team and delivered results 6 months ahead of schedule.” Direct and to the point. In the rest of your job search process, you will tell that story with a lot more detail. Telling the story and then extracting key information for the resume is a powerful exercise.
If you then expand some of those points on other mediums, such as Linkedin, you will have consistency across all of your materials. Your resume is the short version and focused on the facts, and your LinkedIn profile gives you more space to tell the story.
How People Read has Changed
When writing a resume, it is imperative to recognize that how people read has changed.
In previous years, human resource or hiring persons may have sat down with a stack of resumes and carefully read each one as they select candidates for an interview. Now they look at resumes very quickly to figure out whether or not a person has anything the company needs for the job.
Whether it is on a screen, in a pile on the desk, or as content going through an applicant tracking system, you need to design your resume to capture interest quickly. If you do not write and design it so recruiters can easily skim for important information, the recruiters will move on to the next document.
Clean Formats Can Help Readers & Recognize ATS Rules
Present information in a way that is easy to skim, with whitespace and readable font size. If you have paragraphs longer than 3 lines, cut them down. For a bullet point, 1 or 2 lines are ideal. Shorten these chunks by editing content or breaking it into multiple paragraphs/bullets. Then, if someone is skimming, they are not intimidated by a big block of text.
If you are thinking about things to take out, start with the adjectives that you use to tell people how great you are at something. Concentrate on your experiences and achievements.
When submitting a resume to an online application, you must follow the rules for applicant tracking systems or ATS. However, do not obsess about ATS, as more recruiters remark that they look at every resume. Most people find a job through a referral, and then a solid resume is their best resource.
Beware of Getting Resume Samples Online
Be aware that online resume samples are often outdated. If you look at online resume examples to help write your resume, only use examples from websites of trusted resume experts. Books are a better source for samples than online but should be as recent as 2010, as things change quickly. The newer, the better.
As individuals, opportunities will come when we are not ready for them or not thinking about them. You need to have the data ready, so if a potential client would request a proposal, you can quickly supply it and get things rolling.
Consider a Web Portfolio
While LinkedIn is a fantastic free resource that can serve as the expanded version of your resume, it is limited in displaying examples of your work and could disappear at any time LinkedIn chooses. If you are a graphic designer or a photographer, you will probably want a website portfolio of some of your designs or projects. This website would be linked from LinkedIn, as well as from your resume.
It is the perfect opportunity if you are any kind of graphic or visual artist. Also, if you are a writer or have published material, you could have excerpts on a portfolio with links to the full version. Whenever you have any kind of shareable work product, consider having a website portfolio. Many professionals in other fields are also using personal websites to control their digital presence.
Aim to run your career like a business. Capture your stories in a way that will give you the data you need to use across those mediums. Then look for opportunities to position yourself as a leader in your field.
For now, you will share these stories in a resume. Although the medium may change in the future, your focused, powerful stories will always be the currency on which you build your career advancement.
Want help telling powerful, differentiating stories? Find an Academy Certified Resume Writer.
Are you a resume writer looking to create more differentiated documents for clients? Become an Academy Certified Resume Writer.
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