Reviewing more than 125 resumés for MENG members during the past three years, I discovered that many could be improved easily.
These seven improvements are taken from my recent MENGinar “How to Improve Your Resumé in 60 Minutes,” which is available to members at mengonline.com.
1. Be Consistent
You must be consistent with every communication, including cover letters, bio, networking handout, and phone calls. While these should be tailored to your audience, your positioning and personal brand must always be the same.
Note that many people are “careless” when communicating with their network, which results in miscommunications to potential employers that you’ll never hear about.
2. Be Appealing
While resumés present functional and technical capabilities and many accomplishments, the reader must also perceive you as desirable. Therefore you need to project a positive attitude and exude some personality.
One key technique is to let others brag about you by using thoughts such as: Selected to lead a cross functional team. Show your promotions, awards, and how you have mentored others. It helps to simply avoid those overused words publicized by monster.com and LinkedIn.
3. Be Memorable
The best ways to be memorable are:
- Have a focused message (great copy strategies sell a single benefit);
- Present a distinctive positioning; and
- Be personable by having a little information about yourself and using some distinctive language.
- While I recognize that this approach can be overdone, the few people who “come alive” positively in a resumé receive extra consideration.
4. Be Unique
Focus your introductory benefit statement around two to three desirable competencies that are grouped synergistically. The competencies usually aren’t unique, but linking the combination in a way that will be beneficial to future employers should be. On the MENG website for our members is a MENGinar on “How to Position Yourself Effectively.”
5. Learn from Newspapers
By the time you read the headline, sub head and first paragraph, you know whether you want to invest your time in reading the balance of the story. It’s the same with a resumé.
Communicate from the top down, with the first sentence most important followed by the first paragraph then the first page. The sale needs to be made on the top third of page one and then reinforced by the balance of the resumé.
Make your resume easy to read. The last resumé I reviewed was from a proven executive, but I literally had to force myself to read the resumé since it was visually unappealing. The first advice I gave was to:
- Cut 20% of the words,
- Put the most important bullets at the top of each list,
- Cut the number of bullets per company, especially after the most recent employer,
- Increase type size to 11 point,
- Reduce the number of fonts to one or two,
- Increase all four margins,
- Limit the use of bold face and underlining (a little is fine), and
- Use shorter paragraphs and more paragraph spacing.
6. Start Fast
Executive recruiters take about fifteen seconds to decide if they should invest time on a resumé. Therefore, you have to sell fast using the title (what you want to do) and your positioning (why you would be outstanding and appropriate) and any key words in the top 33% of page one.
Include at least two companies or titles on this first page and, of course, never hide a well-known company at the top of page two.
7. Make the Length “Just Right”
Content drives length. Most MENG resume reviewers believe that two to three pages are best. I’ve also found that most resumés get better when the writer had to eliminate content, especially the mundane, obvious, and basic that “everyone” has performed earlier in their career in similar positions.
With email delivery, it’s no longer necessary to end exactly at the end of a page as long as the break is at a milestone, such as a new job or moving into the education section.
While these are just seven of the thirty-one “easy” improvements in the “How to Improve Your Resumé in 60 Minutes” MENGinar, starting with these will let you significantly improve your resumé for a job search.