We’ve come to what some would call the main event here in our branding series. Your resume, like I’ve mentioned several times, is a critical part of the branding process. It’s a literal piece of paper that outlines who you are, or, if you will, what your brand is.
Of course, design and template aesthetic are incredibly important when it comes to your resume. But all of that hard work is moot if the content isn’t serving your best interests. Let’s use this point as a segue to discuss how content and design come together to create a picture and a message. After all, you want to represent yourself the best that you can – not only so that your potential employer is impressed, but also so your skills are shown within the creation of the resume itself before your recruiter has even glanced at a sample of your work.
Content, colleagues, is the key.
What Content Matters Most?
The answer to this question has multiple components. First, there really shouldn’t be any piece of content on your resume that doesn’t matter. It’s all important, as it all represents you. Furthermore, if your resume has sections that are redundant or skippable, you may not have chosen a template that serves your best interest in terms of design.
With that being said, there is a section that recruiters are always drawn to: the top. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as recruiters often have a ton of resumes to go through at any given time. You want to make the most of the resume and their time. And according to Time Magazine, this is generally the section that determines whether a recruiter will read the rest of the resume or not.
The top section of your resume should hold a key set of information. Of course, you’ll want to include your contact information here, so that it is easy to find. Make this information clear and concise, choosing only one e-mail address and one phone number for people to reach you. Personal home addresses are really no longer necessary, unless it’s a required component for out of state applications or things of that nature – it’s 2017; if someone needs to find you, they’ll just call.
Also, for any young professionals who are still using a college or childhood email address, be sure to create a new email address with a professional and clear handle, such as ClareleMortimer@emailaddress.com. Using things like ClareleM2215@gmail.com isn’t the worst choice, but it’s not the best choice either. I’d highly consider this when preparing for professional interviews.
The Bulk Of The Body
The content on your resume should be engaging, but mainly informational. It can be difficult to know exactly what to include, especially if you have an eclectic or large body of work. Let’s go through a few do’s and don’t’s to break it down.
- DO include a professional title. This shows recruiters what position you’re seeking and also gives you a chance to brand yourself within the industry you want to work in. If you’re really struggling to find a fit, try to sum up your skills in a professional catch-phrase that is industry appropriate, such as “Clarele Mortimer: Mentor, Jack of All Trades.” If you can, be creative.
- DO include accomplishments and achievements. This doesn’t mean to include the number of times you were employee of the month – this is a separate category for any types of humanitarian awards and things of that nature. Work-based achievements should be references under Key Performance Metrics, which I touch on later.
- DON’T include references if it hasn’t been stated clearly to do so. You can have a list of references at the ready, however, this isn’t a necessary step anymore in today’s recruiting world. If they need them, they’ll ask.
- DON’T include your collegiate GPA. If it’s required, it will have been made clear. In fact, depending on the reference and your work experience, putting collegiate details past your degree and alma mater, is unnecessary.
- DO include job experience. Of course, this is the bulk of your resume! What’s important to remember here, however, is that you really only need to include relevant experience. By the time you’re 30, you’ve likely been at many different jobs for different reasons and in some cases for only a short amount of time.
- DO add some information about each job you’ve had. You don’t need to write more than a sentence about a title or role unless it’s a really unique position. Be sure to include the title of your position, how long you were there, and if you managed any teammates. It’s also okay to list out promotions you’ve received within a company as separate jobs.
- DON’T include an objective statement. As Forbes listed in a recent article, they are out of style and generally don’t help your cause. Remember, less is more, and when you’re working with less, you really only have space to include the key details.
- DO include relevant skills pertinent to the job. While your past work experience will give a lot of insight towards your skillset, there are easier ways than adding every detail about each position to show your expertise. Try adding a graphic gives a visual effect. For instance, if you’re applying for a blogging position, make sure to include experience with things like WordPress, Photoshop, and different interfaces such as Mac vs Windows, etc.
- DO include Key Performance Metrics. Listed under the description of each job, this is where you can show off a bit. If you helped to bring on a new client, or completely rewrote process documents for your department, this is a great time to list them. It shows what you were tasked with, how you performed in the role, and what you did to elevate that position.
The key here is really understanding the position or company you’re applying for. Unfortunately, this means that you’ll likely need to adjust your resume if you’re going to be applying across different industries.
Maintaining Tone and Personality
This is something that I get asked about constantly. To be honest, the answer is still unknown. The appropriate overall tone of your resume is a bit of a mystery when it comes to experts. There are many recruiters and industries that appreciate bright graphics and a little tongue and cheek when it comes to job descriptions and content. Others will want to see only the relevant information. This is where your connections can help. If you can, try to network with others in your industry to get some feedback on what recruiters have told them in the past. And at the end of the day, it’s okay to be yourself as long as you’re professional and precise.
This concludes our section of our branding series discussing the resume. It’s a lot to take in, but perfecting your resume can mean all the difference when it comes down between you and another candidate. You’ll be glad you took all the advice you could get in the end.
Stay tuned for my next blog in which I’ll touch on follow-up emails and post-interview tactics!