What Your Mom Never Told You About Resumes

I’m sure your mom is a wonderful woman – I know mine is. Chances are, she’s even given you some career advice and maybe even helped with your first resume. Unless she’s an HR pro, she didn’t tell you these interesting and very important facts about resumes:

Resume styles and purposes are always evolving
Unlike Mom’s apple pie recipe, resumes need to change. It used to be that objectives and references were a must for resumes. Nowadays, these two dinosaurs are nowhere to be found on professional resumes. Why? Because the standards of resumes have evolved and resumes are now supposed to be extremely polished sales documents that sell your services to potential employers. This means that every inch of space on your resume should go to telling the reader of your accomplishments and what sets you apart from other candidates.

The introduction of keyword scanning systems in HR departments is driving further evolution. A bulleted list of skills (thinly disguised keywords) is now a must for most resumes and will be for the forseeable future.

In the end, if it’s been more than six months since you updated your resume, its time to look it over and make sure it meets modern HR expectations.

 

Resumes aren’t nearly as important as they used to be (or will be again)
Coming from a resume writing firm, this must be sacrilege, right? It feels weird writing that, but our job is to help customers land new jobs by creating compelling resumes, and we’d be doing a disservice to not mention this phenomenon.

When the economy is roaring along and unemployment is low (think 5% or lower), the resume is the most important tool in the job seeker’s arsenal. Employers are fighting for quality candidates and can’t afford to be choosy. Job seekers can virtually guarantee themselves an interview with a well crafted resume.

Conversely, when the economy is shrinking or sputtering (like now), the resume loses some of its importance as employers have their pick of qualified talent. Personal connections and networking become the primary drivers of interviews and job offers. Social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook are extremely valuable because they combine resume aspects with personal connections.

You must have a quality resume, but you also need to be out in the real (and virtual) world developing and deepening relationships.

 

Like the suit makes the man, the fonts make the resume
Mom always said that what’s on the inside is what really counts. When it comes to resumes, this is 100% false. In many cases, your resume is the first impression that someone has of you and your resume has less than 15 seconds to make a good one.

Using a standard font like Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier creates boredom and conveys a lack of inspiration. Conversely, choosing a couple of easy to read fonts (We like Garamond, Adobe Gothic S, Palatino Linotype with a little bit of style not only sets your resume apart visually, but tells the hiring manager that you are the type of employee who puts thought into the little touches that separate good from great.  Like one of our writers told Fast Company last year, you want your resume to be “on the outskirts of conformity,” and “just different enough to capture attention without being off-putting.”

P.S. If your resume has any amount of Comic Sans, you might as well give up.

 

The resume submission/hiring process isn’t designed to produce the best candidate, but the candidate that HR can best justify
Think about all the steps involved in hiring a new employee. First, a potential job description is written. Then compensation levels are decided upon. The job is posted and resumes are screened. From those resumes, interviews are scheduled. A candidate is selected, background information verified and an offer extended.

Now, think about all the pitfalls that are contained in this process that might prevent the best candidate (let’s call her Jane) from being hired. What if the job description doesn’t accurately describe the job? What if Jane never sees the job posting? What if Jane has a typo on her resume and doesn’t make it past the initial screening? What if Jane has a cold on the day of the interview and comes across as a sub par choice?  Or what if the compensation is not at a level that Jane can or will accept?

It becomes clear that unless a company is extraordinarily lucky, they won’t be hiring the absolute best candidate for the job. What they will be hiring is a candidate that ensures that the hiring manager won’t get fired: knowledgeable, professional, poised and priced right. Keep that in mind when creating and sending out your resume.

 

All of these nuggets of information fit into a broader thesis on modern resumes – you have to continually stay on top of and incorporate current style and formatting preferences. Of course, you could always just hire us to write your resume and not have to worry about it!

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