As a professional resume writer I'm often asked, "What's the best way to write a resume?"
We've all seen the books, the courses, the businesses who specialise in writing resumes, but what is the essence of a resume which is going to work? A resume that's going to get you in for an interview to that dream job?
A resume has to be a "match" with you, and a "match" with the position. Its purpose is to do something very special: it has to make you stand out as an individual, it has to "sell" a very important product - you! And all this has to be accomplished in your absence. Making your resume give the reader an impression of you as an individual person, while at the same time making it match the position being applied for, is the very essence of a good resume. Is this easily accomplished? It's a balancing act between gaining a reader's attention, presenting you as a person who can give the company what is needed, a person who has the attitude and accomplishments necessary to fulfill the requirements of the position.
A very delicate balancing act. How do you sell yourself without sounding overblown? How do you choose what to focus on about your accomplishments? How do you keep a reader interested, who has just flicked over the first page of your resume and is looking for any reason to discard it in the first few seconds? This very first scan of your resume is the crucial first step to getting an interview, to getting the job. Its importance cannot be underestimated.
As the number of people applying for jobs has increased, the processes involved in selecting the correct individuals to shortlist have been automated. Resumes are now routinely uploaded to databases and simple keywords are searched for which relate to the position you are applying for. This means that ensuring your resume contains the correct keywords is vital to ensure you make it through the initial stages of the application.
Reading burn out
In an age where we constantly have a barrage of information coming at us from all sources: TV, newspapers, blogs, social media, emails, radio, our family, friends, partners, reading a hundred resumes for one position offered is just not feasible. A quick scan is all it will get in the first instance a lot of the time, and the outcome is either the "round file" or the "let's look at these further" pile.
Make no mistake, resume readers are exhausted! They are tired of seeing the same old templates, they are tired of trying to make sense out of documents that haven't been formatted properly and now resemble a dog's breakfast, they are tired of reading documents that make little or no sense, are unfocused, and really can this person spell at all?
Resumes are dynamic
If you pull your resume out of the file every few years and dust it off, change the address and referees, add a new job or tasks, then send it off for a new position, do you really expect to make the grade? Resumes are dynamic and changing all the time. While your resume is making a comfy nest in your filing cabinet for a few years, resumes in the real world are changing all the time. They go through fads like everything else: short, long, extensive, graphics/no graphics, photos/no photos, video, PowerPoint, email-able, keywords, so on and so forth.
The truth is, there is no "one size fits all" approach to resume writing. Every person needing a resume is an individual, going for a particular job, in a specific industry, specific location, at a particular time in their career path, with varying degrees of a current resume, with short and long term needs, presenting to an agency/direct to employer... you get the picture. There are so many variables to weigh up in producing your resume that if like most people you reluctantly give your resume an airing every 5 years or so whether it needs it or not, the chances of you being aware of what's happening in the marketplace, your industry, technological changes, current resume norms etc. will at best be average.
Work smart, not hard
Hiring a professional resume writer can be one of the smartest things you can do for your career, your self-esteem, your self-development, even your sanity! We hire cleaners, car mechanics, dentists, doctors, optometrists, therapists, beauticians you name it, there is someone out there who can do anything you either can't do or don't have the time, skills, or inclination to do yourself. Resumes and job applications are no different.
The best way to write a resume that's going to work, is to hire a specialist in resume writing, who has current, local, industry, career development knowledge and experience, and most importantly, has "runs on the board". It's a fantastic investment in your ongoing career. If you can find a successful "word of mouth" resume writer, you're well on your way to making your dreams become a reality.