Continuing the series of putting your job search through the scrutiny of a performance review, let’s talk about resumes.
I look at resumes all the time, either from jobseekers like you looking for help, or for the occasional small business recruiting gigs I do. I also have 15+ years of experience of hiring people to work for me in various positions throughout my career. And the one thing that held true then, and now.
As an employer all I care about is: What’s on your resume that I need?
That’s it. I don’t know that you’ve left off parts of your experience, I don’t know that your last job was really more about accounting than marketing—but you’re applying for a marketing job so you’re emphasizing your marketing background. All I ask is, how does the person on this piece of paper fit with what I need?
How do you know what I need? Well, I told you in the job description.
And who am I going to decide to call? The people who impress me the most with the changes they made at their last company, the examples of taking initiative to find better ways of doing things, and the ways that they improved their last company.
Who am I going to be interested in, but may or may not call? People who look like they did the same job at another company, but it doesn’t look like they really made an impact.
Why won’t I call them? Well, they’ll go in my maybe pile, but if they’re trumped by other people who made more of an impact—I’ll be more excited to call them, and might get to you later. Could there be a great person hiding behind a poorly written or formatted resume? Yes—and as an employer this was always my nagging concern.
As an employer, will my job requirements change as I look at more resumes and whittle down the competition? Yes. If I mention that something is preferred in the ad, as I’m culling through the people to call I might make it a requirement just to make the pile more manageable.
Will I still call people who show that they’ve made an impact? Yes. But if their resume is in a gray area where they don’t have that preferred skill, and their contributions are non-existent, then I’m gonna pass.
So what should you look for in the performance review of your resume? Does it include a mix of job description, and clearly, obviously labeled accomplishments? (i.e., do you have a section under each position labeled—Accomplishments?) Have you made it user-friendly by putting the needs of the employer first, rather than your own preferences or what makes sense to you?
Have you taken time to look for other resume formats that might tell your story better? A book I love is The Gallery of Best Resumes. There’s some in there that are great and some that aren’t—but you’ll learn a lot and see that there’s many options. For the ones you like, why do they work for you? Does it more clearly tell the person’s story? Is it eye-catching without being obnoxious? How is the writing? You should not have blocks of text longer than 2 ½ lines if it can be at all avoided? Why? Because it’s more difficult to visually scan to get an overall impression of who you are. Employers don’t READ resumes, your resume isn’t the latest Tom Clancy novel. Is there enough white space between the bullets and around them to make it easy to read?
Really analyze what you like and what you don’t in the resumes you see, versus “that looks nice.”—and consider if you’d give that person a call based on that piece of paper.
Need help figuring out how to discuss those accomplishments on your resume? Give me a call—you may not need a complete overhaul, but we can work together on an hourly basis to concisely include the fantastic things you’ve done at your previous employer.