I meet with job seekers every day. It’s no surprise that they are often frustrated with the process of finding a new job. Between the energy applying takes, and then being rejected — looking for a job can be exhausting.
One question I always ask is, “Where are you getting stuck?” More than half of the time, the job seeker identifies the biggest hurdle as their resume. If it was better, they would get a job faster.
I completely agree that a good resume is one of the keys to a successful job search. But, I don’t put quite as much weight on it as you might think.
That must be surprising, right? After all, resumes are kind of my thing.
First, let me say again – a good resume is one of the keys to a successful search. But, there are a number of other important things:
- How well you network and stay in touch with people you’ve worked with, or know professionally
- How up to date your LinkedIn profile is
- How comfortable you are at reaching out to people you don’t know
- How well you delivery your elevator pitch
- How well written your cover letter is
- How specific your job search criteria is
- How much money you want to make
- How in demand your job is — and how much competition exists
I could go on and on. There are a number of factors that influence your job search that go beyond your resume. And, if you are ignoring these other pieces in order to focus on your resume, it’s possible you may struggle more than you need to.
But, if you want to get your resume right, so you can move on to the other parts of your search, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Check for spelling errors. There is nothing worse than having a hiring manager find a typo in your resume.
- Look for inconsistencies. Very often, we may start using one format at the beginning of our resume and switch to another without noticing. For example, we may start off with having our company name above our job title. And, a few jobs later, we’re putting the job title above our company name. Either way is okay, but be consistent.
- Check out your tenses. Very often in resumes, we use bullets to describe our work experience. And, those bullets typically begin with action verbs. If you’re using this format, be sure that things you did in the past are listed in past tense. Things you do today should be in present tense.
- Use a professional looking e-mail address. Stay away from old e-mails, such as AOL. Stay away from an e-mail with your birth year, your graduation year, or any other year with a significance. Stay away from using the names of hobbies in your e-mail address. Use your name, plain and simple.
- Your resume should be one entire page, or two entire pages. This is not a free form document. A resume is a formal presentation of your work history. It shouldn’t be one and a half pages, two and a half pages, or three pages. If you’re putting together a CV, the number of pages could vary, but for a resume, stick with this recommendation.
- Don’t use a resume writer! I can’t stress this enough. If you need help, reach out to a coach who can read your resume and provide feedback. Then, you make those changes. The most embarrassing resume moments I have seen have always (and I mean always) happened as a result of a resume writer. The writer doesn’t know the job seeker’s entire history and does their best to translate their lengthy experience into a two page document. But, they make a mistake. And, the job seeker ultimately doesn’t notice it until it’s too late.
These are just a few of my resume tips. Remember: a resume is not the single key to success. It’s one of many keys. Spend the time to update your resume, but don’t spend ALL of your time on it. Get it to a good place and then move on to the other keys of success.
Anytime I’m thinking of resumes, this quote comes to mind: “Done is better than perfect.”
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Author: Angela Copeland
Angela Copeland is Founder and Coach for Copeland Coaching, a great way to jump start your job search. Follow her on Twitter @CopelandCoach for tips on finding the perfect job for you.