Resume Do’s and Don’ts (Part 1 of 2)

Many books have been written about writing that “great” resume.  And most books offer some valuable – and differing – ideas.  Who do you believe?
I’m not here to write another book, but today and in my next blog I’ll share some key points I think most resume “experts” would agree are best practices.
No two people are alike.  We all have differing levels of experience, job functions, education… and have differing goals as to what we’d like to do next.  Some want to land that first job.  Some want to continue on their same career path.  Others want to change industries and/or job functions.  Others might want to scale back as they approach retirement age.  It’s a mixed bag for sure!
A few thoughts to consider.  Seek out someone other than a good friend or a relative when you’d like some resume help.  Friends and relatives want to see you succeed, yet they also may not want to confront you, so they may not challenge you on what you show them.  And, frankly, they may not know what makes a good resume in the first place.
Instead, seek out someone you know in human resources or maybe in a hiring capacity.  At least you’ll get a better read on what should work – and what you should avoid.
There are plenty of online folks who’ll charge you for writing your resume for you.  Hey, you can build your own resume.  It’s not rocket science, but if you want to pay someone, at least ask for references and examples of their work.  Remember, whether someone writes it for you or you take advice from someone like me, it’s YOUR name on that document and YOU need to be able to talk through everything on it.
So what are some general resume do’s and don’ts?
Aside from avoiding typos, the two most important areas an employer looks for are key words and accomplishments.  They want to know you have experience with the various functions/processes/acronyms/software that they utilize.  They also want to know that you’re accomplished in what you do.
Re-read that last paragraph.  Key words and accomplishments.
When it comes to hiring, employers typically look for two things.  They look for competency and culture fit.  In other words, are you likely to be very good at the job at hand and can they trust you/do they “like” you?
Listing your key words and accomplishments should let ‘em know you’re good at what they want.  The other piece – do they “like” your resume – is pretty subjective.
Aside from avoiding the cardinal sin of typos, think about how you’ve laid out your resume.  Are they able to quickly see you’re a fit for the job?
Consider a three to five line blurb below your name/address/phone/email which includes those valuable key words.  Call it a summary, a profile, qualifications, or don’t call it anything at all… but look at that blurb as the “hook” for a reader.
Resumes are hard to write about for all the reasons I mentioned up top.  We’re all different.  I often respond to resume questions with, “It depends.”  Well, it does.  Next time I’ll tackle more general interview do’s and don’ts.  Good luck!