Whenever I hear of an experienced professional who is job-hunting, but not getting many or any interviews, my first thought always goes to the résumé.
There must be something wrong with that résumé!
Maybe the current job was acquired through a reputable friend’s referral, or just plain luck. But down the road, through the years, the market conditions might have gotten more competitive. That old résumé may not cut the mustard any more.
Here are some tips to take that old résumé to the next level and at least get your foot into the door for the interview.
- Know your audience. Never assume the person reading your résumé is familiar with technical terms or professional jargon. Always assume the person reading your resume is a human-resource manager who just wants to read a simple, interesting and easy-to-understand letter.
- Grammer, capitalisations and punctuation – the more mistakes you make, the more reasons you give for not getting hired for that role which has more responsibilities and with that, bigger pay. Language problems are almost unforgivable in more senior roles where written communication from employees reflects well or badly on the company.
- Always include the full names of acronyms used.
- Ensure each sentence stands out and promotes you!
Have the mindset of treating every sentence in the résumé like a precious gem. In another words, there should not be a single line in the résumé that is mundane or boring. Starting from the section about education – most people would just state their qualification in a single line. However, just stating that you have a degree in engineering is not creating an interesting read or enhancing you above others.
To take it a step further, highlighting special achievements or distinctions during the course of obtaining that certificate can create a much more enjoyable reading experience and help to engage the reader in wanting to find out more about you. Never mind if it is just one distinction in your bachelor’s degree course – just highlighting that one distinction creates a more interesting sentence to read!
- Avoid news-report style of writing. Remember that the company you are applying for is reading a lot of resumes. Besides throwing away up to 90% of resumes that have broken English or poor visual presentation, the 10% of resumes remaining are filtered down to just 2 to 3 that are interesting to read.
If you are just reporting facts, instead of telling a compelling story or hinting on why you are way better than your peers, your chances of landing that interview diminishes considerably.
Most people, when writing résumés, have a fill-in-the-blank mindset – they just try to write a paragraph for each job they have been in, stating their responsibilities. That is fine (if it is neat and in point-form) but there has to be more than that to make it each (job) paragraph interesting to read.
For example, instead of stating everything that you were responsible for (which is actually just the job you were paid to do, which could also be painfully obvious from the job-title), you could emphasize what you have achieved from your responsibilities and how the company thrived and grew beyond their expectations while you ‘just did your job’. You could also share what you learnt and how much you’ve grown from when you joined the company till you left. Write and share about your past job (experience) like how you would share to a friend your life experience. Respect the person reading your resume enough to not just deliver a boring job description!
- Be fully prepared to embrace the job you are applying for, with the knowledge that you are a good fit for the job or will be a good fit for the job within a few months’ time through personal sacrifice and adjustments. It is hard to convince others to give you the job when you are unsure about receiving it yourself.
- Be thankful for past experiences, and learn to let go and move on from the more difficult ones. It is useful to take some time and be reflective about your past jobs in the resume and know how you’ve benefited (or suffered) from each one. That honesty will help not just in writing a better resume, but also in communicating to your interviewer during the interview.
- Visually – the resume should be beautiful, ideally single column and point format should be used where appropriate. The more energy the reader has to spend on scanning the resume for where to begin and end, the less energy there is to read. If you are not good in design, it will help to get a friend who is to look through your resume or even ‘tidy it up’ for you. At the very least, ensure the content headers stand out sufficient as headers, and eliminate less important information from the front-page.
Hope the above has helped you, and here is wishing you the very best in your job-hunting for 2016!