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23 Things You Should Include To Make A Killer Résumé

23 Things You Should Include To Make A Killer Résumé

Put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes.

If you were faced with a stack of résumés what would you want? The ability to download all the info into your brain, the way that Neo from The Matrix gets plugged in and learns Kung Fu in about ten seconds?

Unfortunately it doesn’t really work like that. In fact, research shows that recruiters take only six seconds to make their initial judgement on a résumé. If your résumé is screened by a computer first, it may not even get that far.

So, your job, when creating a killer résumé, is to make it really easy for the recruiter to spot the most important benefits you offer the employer.

Do the work, so they don’t have to. Here’s how:

1. Make sure your résumé is tailored to the job you are applying for

Generic résumés may be quick to submit, but far less effective. Better one excellent job application than three shoddy ones.

Researching the cultural norms of the organization is worthwhile. For example, within one industry some will value experience but not care much about education, while others care about your qualifications.

2. Only apply if you meet the job criteria

Don’t waste your time or the recruiter’s applying for jobs if you don’t meet their criteria. If you still want that job, go and expand your skill set before trying again in future.

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3. Don’t lie

Even if you get through the first screening, lying about or exaggerating your accomplishments is likely to come back to bite you. Recovering from the loss of trust is hard.

4. Add keywords

After writing the résumé, check it for keywords from the job description.

Keywords are gifts to you from the employer. Add them into the existing text so they flow naturally. This will help your résumé get past screening software, and recruiters who are accustomed to searching quickly for these keywords.

5. Structure your résumé carefully

It is easiest for the recruiter if your key skills and background are summarised at the top. Make sure your current and most recent previous role are on the first page.

Your education and qualifications are generally less important than your professional experience, so put these later.

6. Show how your most recent two jobs are relevant

Recruiters will spend 80% of their time on your name, the company, job title, start and end dates for your current and previous companies, and finally your education.

If you are changing direction in your career, you will need to work even harder to draw out the skills and networks you are bringing from these last two jobs.

7. Keep the résumé short

Remember the recruiter will scan your résumé in seconds. Including your school paper round or even lengthy details of your first job out of college is not something a recruiter will thank you for (unless, of course, you are applying for your second job out of college).

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8. Demonstrate progress

Show the recruiter that your career makes sense. Tell a story which shows promotions and additional responsibilities as you delivered value to your employer.

9. Use CAR as a guide

CAR stands for Context, Action, Results. Use them as a mental checklist. Keep the context short: just long enough for the recruiter to know what your job was. Spend longest what you actually achieved as a result of the actions that you took.

10. Provide proof

Qualify your results wherever possible. Beating your targets, raising finance, cutting costs, making great sales all provide convincing and easily digested data which demonstrate your achievements. Social proof such as promotions and customer feedback are also worthwhile.

11. Show you are a rounded person

Include personal projects, sports or voluntary work that you participate in, but be aware if they are activities which might stereotype you or turn an employer off.

12. Include links to other sites and social media

Keep your résumé short while demonstrating your talents by providing links to articles, photos, or websites you’ve designed, or a portfolio. Also, provide the url for your LinkedIn profile and Twitter feed it those reflect your professional abilities.

Clearly, you want to avoid a Facebook page with photos of your drunken exploits. Better still, don’t post these on social media in the first place.

13. Give a good reason for leaving an employer

Recruiters will especially be looking at the reasons you want to leave your current employer and how long you were with them. If you’ve had a series of short-lived positions you’ll need a convincing explanation of why a recruiter should take a risk on you.

14. Explain gaps in your employment history

Leaving a gap on your résumé leaves the recruiter wondering. If you’ve taken time out for parenting or starting your own business, tell them. If you’ve been traveling, show how it has enriched you as a candidate.

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15. Exclude irrelevant information

Don’t reveal your age, race, gender, marital status, or whether you have kids. Research shows that even the most self-aware recruiters have unconscious biases.

16. Show your eligibility to work

Make it easy for a recruiter to be confident that you are eligible to work without having to apply for work permits.

17. Make it easy for the recruiter to contact you

Include contact details with your email and one phone number (don’t make the recruiter have to guess which number to use). Don’t bother with your home address.

18. Format for clarity

Make sure your formatting goes hand in hand with the résumé structure to ensure recruiters can spot the key information easily.

Create clear sections with easy-to-read, consistent headlines. Use an attractive font, which is also easy to read. Don’t use Word templates. If your design skills are truly terrible get someone else to do the formatting for you.

19. Stick to a familiar format

In this case, boring is good. Unless you are specifically applying for a graphic design or creative role and want to demonstrate your talent, avoid unusual formats. Remember, the recruiter doesn’t want to be distracted as they scan the page.

Cut anything that seems clever but reduces clarity, including pictures. If you do use something different, make sure it is effective and suits the employer’s own style before you submit it.

20. Submit your résumé in pdf format

Unless you are asked otherwise, send your résumé as a pdf. This will ensure your formatting remains consistent on any device.

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21. Spell-check and grammar-check

Obvious, perhaps, but surprisingly often spelling and grammar mistakes are what leads to a résumé being put in the reject pile. Use the past tense and third person, not first person consistently throughout your résumé.

Don’t rely on your computer’s spelling and grammar checkers. They are often wrong. Edit it yourself and then get another person to read your résumé with fresh eyes.

22. Check before you include a cover letter

Most cover letters are a waste of time. Either don’t bother, or, if the recruiter specifically requests one, make sure it says something meaningful.

Cover letters can be used as headlines, picking out the most relevant parts of a résumé. They can deal with issues the recruiter may be concerned about, such as a change of career direction. They can remind a recruiter about an occasion that gave them cause to trust or care about you.

23. Don’t write to the CEO

Unless you are applying to a tiny company, or you know the CEO personally, it is not the CEO who will be doing the initial screening. Don’t waste their time.

Featured photo credit: typing on laptop, picture about education via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on April 9, 2020

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common types of leadership and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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