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23 Things You Should Include To Make A Killer Résumé

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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 August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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