Your resume can be even more worthy than your portfolio, when you are in quest of a job. Your resume is the item that makes first impression.
I composed and designed resumes for a living for nearly two years. Those were my student days. Then, I worked as an employee in various organizations. Of course, in those job hunting days I used to submit my resume to for nearly every vacancy available. And now, I evaluate tens of resumes each year when I’m hiring people. This whole experience has enabled me to arguably all the tricks of the trade. I know how to create a resume that aligns all stars in your favor. Today, I will tell you those secrets.
Some say it’s not the resume that will get you a job, it’s your work… they are right! But only to some extent.
They are not wholly right because your work comes after your introduction, i.e. after your resume. Let’s take an example.
Do you ever buy a ticket for a movie which had a boring trailer…. No, of course you don’t. A resume or a CV is ‘your’ trailer and ‘you’ are the movie. No one will pay attention to you and give you a job if you don’t have a good CV.
Today, I’ll share everything I know about resume writing, formatting and designing. But first, let me just define the difference between a CV and a resume.
CV vs. Resume
A resume is a brief introduction of yourself. Technically, a resume has to be confined to one page only. CV can be as lengthy as you want it to be. However, both terms are used interchangeably these days.
As of this moment, the global unemployment rate is over 30%. Even in the US, after so much recovery, the unemployment rate is still over 8%. This just shows how tough job market really is. But if you just do a few things right, at least an interview can be guaranteed. Here’s that obvious stuff.
This is an absolute no no. Seriously, when a manager, not only me, any manager sees a severe typo in a resume, the job is lost.
I mean think about it, would you hire a person who doesn’t even check his own resume properly? No one would!
One comma can bring unimaginable disaster to your resume. Be careful, be very careful. You don’t wanna be a laughter stock to someone.
Exaggeration to the Limit
Using positive energetic words in resumes is a good practice but sometimes people overdo that. Sometimes, newcomers mistake active, image building words with superlatives.
Melissa Jones: Proficient in MS Word.
It sounds stupid when people write common features of their personalities as if it is something extraordinary.
What interested managers most is what makes you different? That’s the only question you need to answering in a resume. If you are great at emailing and Microsoft Word, alright but keep it subtle. Instead, if you are over six feet tall, that is a fact that might matter a lot more in some cases. Make your uniqueness stand out.
Stupid Career Objective
This is something that often happens. A generic career objective is just patched up on every other CV and that’s a big turn-off. Either you tweak this objective according to every job you apply for, or just leave it altogether. Gone are those days when people were judged on their career objectives. These days, it is almost certain that no one writes their own objective, they just copy it from the internet.
Not Sounding Professional
Remember your first email address? Would you want anyone to find that out? Me neither 😉
But you know, you may have an email address that sound cool when you tell it to someone, but remember, not everything that sounds cool can be put on a CV.
You can contact me at: email@example.com
Email address, hobbies, interests and objective needs to sound professional to the core.
Note: professional does not mean boring. You can be witty, but should not too funny. Think of it this way. You can be Stephen Fry funny, but not Jim Carry funny.
Presentation is another huge aspect in job quest. Here’s a quick checklist for proper presentation of your resume.
- Layout: clutter free, lots of white space, organized resume that is fairly straightforward and simple to understand.
- Paper Quality: if you are sending a hard copy, make sure your paper and printing is top notch. You’d be surprised with the amount of difference it creates.
- Proper Email: if you are applying for the job via email, make sure you include a proper message. Just a “KFA” doesn’t suffice. You should just summarize the cover letter in the email.
It is also important to write a message in the email so that if in future the recipient makes a search in the mailbox, he/she should find your resume. KFA doesn’t pop up in any search.
Above, I covered the obvious mistakes people usually make in their resumes. Now let’s come to the stuff that gets your resume to stand out among competition. These are the things I and most managers notice when they are shortlisting potential employees.
One thing that really help me with my confidence, nerves and preparation was my homework. Whenever I found a job opening, I thoroughly checked out their website before writing my job application. I also checked out official social media accounts, manager profiles, company reviews on third-party websites and so on. I wanted gathered all the information I could.
This helps, this helps a whole lot. If you do this homework, you will know exactly where this company stands. You will know what are the problems this company is facing, what are its values, what is its future endeavors and where do fit in this puzzle.
When you know where you fit in, that’s the time to start writing your job application aka cover letter.
Proper Cover Letter
Cover letters can do wonders when it comes to job hunting. That is because cover letters are the only thing where you can be subjective, where you can brag. This is where you are not supposed to give out facts and figures, rather you focus on you.
There are basically 3 questions you need to answer in a cover letter.
- What job are you applying for?
- Why do you believe you can do this job better than others?
- What kind of person are you?
You must keep your cover letters as brief as possible, but not more. I have learned that 150-200 words are the ideal length for a cover letter. Keep it to 3-4 paras.
Custom Optimized Resume
People already know about it but don’t follow it often. This is something that can guarantee you not only an interview but the job.
Let’s take an example. Let’s say you are a web developer. One day you see an ad for a PHP developer. Would you send your resume unchanged? No, you shouldn’t. You should tweak your skills tab and make it look that you are brilliant in PHP. Even minor details matter here because your employer wants specifically a PHP developer. He/she would love your resume if it looks as if your whole focus is on PHP. You will look like a tailor-made solution for the employer.
That’s your target, to look tailor-made solution to the employer’s problem. A custom optimized resume can make you look so.
Tip: What I used to do in my job hunting days was that I had two tabs in my resume, experience and skills. I used to tweak them before sending my application. I tweaked them every time. I got called nearly every time.
You should also make a couple of sections that you can easily tweak each time before sending in your job application.
How to Design a Killer Resume
There are mainly two ways of formatting or designing your resume. The first and foolproof idea is that you should create a clean, simple and straightforward design. A design that doesn’t really looks like a design. That’s the design that wins.
Simple designs win because they are easy to understand so they save managers’ time. When you allow the manager to make a quick decision, that decision is likely to go in your favor.
However, in designers’ case, your resume can be even more vital in the job quest. It is so because a designer is judged on the design of his/her resume. If you design a striking resume just like Martin Suster has done, you maybe selected for the job even before the interview.
Our designer Waseem decided to make you guys a tutorial and free PSD download for creating such resumes. Here’s the image of that PSD download.
- Resume templates for designers: this collection includes PSD resume templates and other intriguingly designed resumes.
- Microsoft Word resumes download: this post includes an all-in-one file download of 50 resume templates.
When managers are examining resumes, they are specific questions in mind. Make sure you understand those questions. Make sure you answer those questions. The common questions are:
- Can this person do the job?
- Would he/she be a honest and committed person or will he/she just sit around all day?
- What is the attitude and aptitude of this person?
- What effect would this person generate on the office environment?
You need to answer these questions. Nothing more, nothing less.
A fail-safe way to answer those questions is using the routine keywords in your resume.
Secondly, don’t waste the employer’s time. This very very very important. If you can make a resume that the employer can go through quickly, your chances of getting an interview call double.
Don’t overstate your abilities. Managers are not looking for someone who can write the best letters in MS Word, rather they want to know what makes you different.
Try to be serious, honest and professional. That does not mean you should be boring but don’t put in jokes or funny stuff. Be subtle, if you do add anything witty.
I think that’s about it. Creating good resumes is not rocket science. All you have to do is think from the manager’s point of view and evaluate yourself. If you find yourself apt for the job, you’ll be extremely confident during the interview and you will have all the answers.
All the best in your job hunt.