Extreme Makeover: Resume Edition

Confusion over how to promote your expertise in this “new economy” continues to mystify most. While everyone still needs a resume, what that resume looks like has changed dramatically, hence the Extreme Makeover Edition. Much of what I said a few years ago remains true (read below), however some fundamentals of the job search process have changed. What constitutes a RESUME is what has changed. Tell me what you think! Is the paper resume as important as it was two, three, five years ago?

Fashion is not the only thing that suffers from the ebs and flows of economics. There are resume trends too, and the resume has a whole new look.  The rules & tools of the job search have changed and that includes the resume.  For many job seekers thrust into the hunt after a long time of steady employment, these trends are not obvious. And, there is always that familiar refrain, “…but I was told to do it this way.” Confusion reigns and  it’s hard to keep up with all the changes.  This is apparent from the hundreds of “old-school” cookie-cutter resumes I continue to see.  While the traditional format may have worked in the pre-recession economy, don’t expect too much traction with it today. That is, unless you have a unique skill set that is well highlighted through out the document and is the EXACT match for what the hiring manager, your resume alone is most likely not going to bring you the attention you want.

When I get calls from job seekers wanting help with their resume, the first thing I ask them is about their “Online Resume.” What does Google say about you? That is where your credibility lies. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying the resume is dead, there is still a strong desire for it, but the fact is that they have slipped a few ranks in importance.  In addition, how they should look is also different. So, if you think its time for a new resume, I think it’s time to call it an “Extreme Makeover.”  Lets see what’s in and out of vogue for marketing your expertise going forward.

1. OUT: Objective IN: Clear and compelling Positioning Statement / Value Proposition/ Job Title

The top ¼ of your resume (on LinkedIn, your professional headline) is the most prime resume real estate. I see too many resumes squander the opportunity to catch the attention of the person perusing/ skimming/ eyeballing your document or LinkedIn profile. Telling a recruiter “what you want” by way of the ubiquitous Objective does nothing for your cause and the statement became obsolete at least one recession ago.  A recruiter or HR professional is going to spend approx 5-10 seconds scanning your resume for all the right keywords. Not only do they need to be up front and center, but so does your immediate value proposition.  How will the recruiter be compelled to place your resume over all others onto the “call” pile? It doesn’t matter what you name this top section, what does matter is that it includes ideal job titles you identify with and your value proposition. Going for the old cliched statements don’t work any more either. This Positioning Statement has to be unique to you, and convey exactly why you are so well suited for the position.

2. OUT: One style fits all IN: A style that’s appropriate to you, your career history, your industry

The days of the traditional and boilerplate chronological resume are no longer. This format does not lend itself to presenting your most valuable skills or experiences in the most convincing or strategic way.  Today, I mix and match various formats and sections to highlight each individual’s attributes, accomplishments and experiences that are relevant to the position they are seeking. While there are many pre-determined sections of a resume, every job seeker does not fit into the same mold, neither should the resume. Even at the C-suite level, candidates do not need to include everything they have ever done. Follow the “Blackberry model”, and make sure you document is clear, concise and catchy. Your essential info must be brief and compelling and readily accessible on a smart phone!

3: OUT: One Dimensional   IN: Multi-Dimensional

Today, the web is your resume!   If you want to be easily found, a recruiter should be able to Google your name and find your story.  With social media tools, you can create a dynamic and branded online message conveying who you are.   Social networks such as Linkedin, VisualCV, or Facebook, not only allow you to outline your experience, but also easily highlight other dimensions of who you are: What you read, how you write, what type of questions you ask, and your level of engagement in online professional communities. If you are proud of a PowerPoint you created, articles your have written, or a blog, it should be up on LinkedIn at the very least. The quality of your recommendations and, in some fields, the extent of your network, go far in aiding you to become a more viable, visible and credible potential candidate. One recruiter calls it the “Social Media Recruitment Test”. Do you pass it?

4. OUT: Traditional personal contact info only   IN: Linkedin/ VisualCV/Website/ Blog URL/ Twitter handle, etc.

If you only have your traditional contact info, i.e.  the good ol’e telephone, mailing address etc. and email, you may want to add more.  Including your LinkedIn/ Website/ Blog URL or Twitter handle, gives the person reviewing your resume the opportunity to get a broader picture of your expertise and brand.

5. OUT: Only paid work is legitimate experience    IN: All experience (including unpaid, volunteer, and internships) that is relevant can convey value.

I’m constantly amazed by the interesting things people do and yet they don’t consider including it on their resume because it doesn’t fall within their traditional notion of “work experience”. What about the time since you lost your job? Is there a gaping void? One of the most important questions your next employer has is “What have you been doing since you lost your job? I am afraid, the worst thing you can say is “job searching”. Hopefully, you have been active in a range of activities that have been time well spent, and if articulated well, such information can and should be strategically blended into the resume.  Not only to demonstrate a job seekers depth of capability but also to highlight their unique experiences.

6. OUT: Black font only     IN: Careful use of color

The use of color on a resume was once only the purview of artists and designers. But the need to help your resume stand out trumps that idea. A subtle use of color to help your document catch someone’s attention (and brand you as someone who is willing to take a risk) can be very compelling.

7. OUT: List of responsibilities    IN: Accomplishment-based statements

No recruiter is going to get excited about reading a job description regurgitated back to them on a resume. Accomplishment-based resumes are the foundation of your Value Proposition and help set you apart from your competition. Creating a value-packed resume requires an assessment of how you made a difference in any/all experiences you deem relevant, and the outcomes accomplished, hence the name.

8. OUT: Paragraphs    IN: Bullets

Bulleted statements have been around for a long time, but it seems that some may have missed the memo. If you want someone to actually read your resume, spend time carefully constructing accomplishment-based, bulleted statements under each job title. Round, black bullets serve a critical function in leading the eye to each sentence. They make a resume easier and quicker to read.

9. OUT: “References available by request.”    IN: Personal testimonies

Definitely obsolete in the 21st century resume. It’s a given today that you will provide references if asked. Space on your resume is at a premium, so you want to make every word count. Instead, give the recruiter a chance to have direct access to your personal testimonials, (recommendations) on LinkedIn (and you should have a minimum of three) by including your LinkedIn URL in your contact section. In addition, there is no reason why you cannot add a short quote or two from a previous superior or colleague who sings your praises. No doubt, formatting, length and placement is key.

10. Out: One general resume    IN: Multiple resumes to target different roles.

With the unequivocal demand for resumes to be highly focused and a direct match to the job requirements, there is little room for ambiguity surrounding your skills, experience or career goals. Since most professionals have a range of transferable skills that can be reconfigured for a host of different positions, creating individualized resumes, each with a clear and distinct focus is essential to be considered for a position today.

Creating the right documents that will get you noticed in today’s job market is no simple feat.    While there are some steadfast rules regarding resumes, it is important to follow these important new rules, so that you can get noticed, because no matter how good you are, if your resume is not making it through the ATS (Applicant Tracking System), and you don’t think of Web 2.0 as your new resume, don’t expect a phone call any time soon.

Do you have the right resume and online branding strategy to get you noticed? Contact Careerfolk for some constructive feedback, and don’t let your resume get caught out by the Resume police! Email me Donna (at) careerfolk.com

If you read my previous post on updating your resume, you’ll see that you can gain a lot more insight out of the process than you realize. Let me help you would like to bring your resume  into the 21st century!

4 Comments on “Extreme Makeover: Resume Edition

  1. Very interesting and it seems spot on, I’ve been doing some informal career coaching with friends and associates, another big trend is getting the resume out in the market in the format you desire (you spent a lot of time choosing the font and spacing) – try this for easy self-publishing with a number of smart features.

  2. I am just out of graduate school and looking for many different types of jobs in my field. I have a few targeted resumes, causing my linkedin profile to be rather generic.

    I feel this is counter productive. Should I delete my account?

  3. Pingback: Yes, Virginia, you can use color on your resume « Executive Resume Expert

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