The market for a good job is always competitive, and writing a killer resume can be the difference between getting the face-to-face interview, and getting discarded in the recycling bin. Skyline Personnel has compiled a list of 9 items that we use to help our candidates answer that question, “How do I write an amazing resume?”, and win that precious interview.
1. Don’t Begin Where You Think
Many people begin this process with where they have always been taught to begin; writing their resume. They compile a list of their educational experiences, job history, and any other factoids that they can possibly come up with. Stop! Don’t do this yet! One of the most important factors that hiring managers take into consideration is job ‘relevance’. They are not necessarily looking for an exact fit for their job opening, but they are looking for relevant background and/or relevant capacity. Writing a killer resume does not actually begin with writing, but it begins with research. Identify the specific job you want first. Then, and only then, begin framing your resume information in a way that speaks specifically to that position, company, or market.
2. Begin by Writing an Objective / Summary
Okay, you’ve done your research and identified a specific job, or at least a specific type of job, you would like to get. Now it’s time to start writing your killer resume! Where do we begin? We start off with the ‘Object’ or ‘Summary’ (they are both basically the same thing). This is a SHORT essay as to why you want the job and why you would be a good fit for the job. Avoid long, generic claims (that your mother would agree with) which anyone could make (e.g., “A highly motivated goal-oriented team-player with strong interpersonal skills and excellent communication abilities.”) These opinions of yourself are worthless because who would not say this? Be specific (e.g., “A qualified project manager with a proven track record in delivering major projects on time and within budget.”)
3. What Makes You Unique
The next step in writing a killer resume is clearly identifying the skills and elements that make you stand out from the crowd. You want to list transferrable skills that relate to the job opening that you are applying for as best as possible. That does not mean that you leave skills out that in your mind are not immediately relevant, because you can’t fully know exactly what the hiring manager is looking for, but do your best to keep it meaningful to the opening. Once again try to avoid ‘value’ statements and wherever possible list explicit expertise. What are the skills you have acquired that employers are looking for? What are the keywords that recruiters will put into search engines when looking for someone for the kind of position you desire? Instead of saying ‘Strong IT skills’ list the particular programming languages or applications that you know best. Display these skills as bullets directly underneath the objective.
4. Job History & Achievements
Okay, so you’ve outlined your objective, you’ve identified your key skills, and garnered at least a little bit of interest from the hiring manager. Now is the time to really win them over with your amazing resume. In this section you outline what most people think about when it comes to a resume. This contains a brief summary of your most recent work experiences. List the organizations, your job title, your key responsibilities and achievements. Do not include long explanations for why you left one job to go to another, or why you were laid off. Keep it concise and factual. In general it is only the last 10 to 15 years that are relevant so do not include a complete career history if it goes back further than this. If you are older than 50, do not indicate your age, as some employers may be prejudiced against older candidates.
Make sure in this section to have a select list of your three or four proudest achievements. What results did you deliver for the organizations where you worked? Do not be bashful. Blow your own trumpet with facts, figures, and names of companies. “As Sales Manager at XYZ I grew sales revenue from $12m to $19m in two years.” “At ABC I led the team which won Citibank as a major new account.”
5. Educational & Professional Details
In this section you want to list your educational experience (you do not need to go back beyond high school, and for some positions not even that far). If you are newly out of school you will want to bump this section up above your job history if it is more impressive. Also add any relevant professional qualifications that may have some relevance to the position(s) you are seeking.
6. Personal Details
So you are getting close to wrapping up your killer resume. In this section you can highlight your volunteer experience and you can add some personal interests and hobbies, but keep them to a minimum. Make it short, but you can use this section to give yourself a little personality.
7. Reference (yes, singular, not plural)
Many people will tell you to put “references available on request”. While there is a small argument here not to annoy your references, the flip side of it is; some hiring managers will tell you that it adds one more hurdle in the process, and you want to be in the business of removing hurdles. How do you compromise? Include one, trustworthy reference that you know is in it for you and doesn’t mind taking a few calls. You then can include the statement “additional references available upon request.” This way the hiring manager has at least one person to check with, but they know they can always get more!
8. Contact Details
Please do not forget these! We have actually seen some resumes where these have been forgotten. You can have a killer resume, but if they have no means to contact you, it doesn’t matter how good it is. Side note, make sure that your Linkedin profile mirrors your resume! And, if you don’t have one, create one!
9. Personalize your cover letter
Finally, you are done with your killer resume! Whenever you apply for a position, send a cover letter or email with your resume and tailor the letter to the exact wording and needs expressed in the advert. Explain precisely and briefly why you are a good candidate for the position and how your skills and experience are relevant.
We hope you find these items helpful and a great launching pad for the next stage in your career! Feel free to contact Skyline Personnel to find any job opportunities we may have to put these steps into practice!