Thursday, October 21, 2010

Resume Advice?

I realize this is a bit off-topic but in these poor economic times, any useful job hunting advice is relevant, no?

Recently, a young man and a member of my national fraternity emailed me, looking for some assistance. He was now graduating and like everyone else, was finding it difficult to get a new gig. He sent me his resume and to put it mildly, needed work. The following are exerpts from the letter I sent him. As they used to say on Dragnet: "The names have been changed to protect the innocent".

Joe -

I'm sorry that all I can offer you is little more than

I've reviewed your resume, and I must say it does not put your best foot forward, based on your email to me. I have interviewed many people in my career and if I came across your resume, I would also be inclined to pass.
Here's why:

A resume is a marketing tool - a sales brochure for a product. That product is you. Your resume (and cover letter) is all the hiring officer has to go on. Based on that, ask yourself, "If I were buying job candidates, would I want a Bob Jones?" If the answer is "yes", go no further. I suspect however, you will agree your current version does not.

Do you go by Joseph F. X. Jones III or Joe Jones? Whatever it is, go with
that on the resume. While not dishonest, it does not tell people who and
what you are (the point of the resume).

Did you know hiring types rarely read the whole document? They usually get down about a third of the page before they use it to weed you out. Put yourself in their shoes: "I have 100 resumes on my desk for one job. how shall I do this? I'll make a process." That process is usually reading a bit to decide who to cut to bring the number of resumes to a more managible number, like 5 -10. Use this information to your advantage - put the most important and most interesting stuff in the top third of the document.

Your objective is obvious: "To get a job!" having said that, feel free to eliminate your Objective altogether. If you must have one, please don't limit yourself to the kind of work you feel you are suited for, like Public Relations - let the company you are applying to do that. What if its a marketing job? You've already taken yourself out of the running with your current objective.

Rather than an objective, you may want to lead with a bullet-pointed list of what you are skilled at, since that is what you are selling. What you lack in experience, you make up for in the fact that you are young and not supporting a family (read: willing to work longer hours for less pay than then current employees). You are a recent grad, hep to new business practices and methodologies like social media, learning management software like Blackboard, etc. You bring a lot to the table that companies know they need more of - no kidding. Believe it or not, guys over 30 don't know half that stuff - most of us don't tweet and REFUSE to text. Employers NEED these resourses to make money in the 21st century. Add A LOT MORE to your computer skills section.

Speaking of experience, why do you bury that stuff at the bottom? Please, lots more detail here and tell where you got it, with dates. You created and launched a business?!? This info should be front and center. Also, take out "Relevant" from "Experience", its redundant.

If you are still concerned your resume is lacking after making these changes, consider not sending one at all. There is no set format for resumes, you can do whatever you
want (need to do). Here's an idea - put the information in a letter saying
everything you would have said, like a resume with an intro and closing. You may
interest the hiring officer enough to make it to the next round, but be prepared
to follow up with a resume if requested to do so.


Michelle Watson said...

Great advice!!!! I'm reviewing resumes now for a job opening with my company and am astounded by what people are including (or not) on their resume.

David Martin said...

Thank you for the resume advice. I have used LinkedIn and filled out my profile as well as I could to include work history, skills, and recommendations. Once the profile has been completely filled out, I can download a PDF of my profile in which I use to craft and update my resume. Your advice is very good and I especially liked the importance that you paid to new skills such as social media and computer knowledge. This is becoming more important everyday for businesses. Thanks for the great update!