By: Maurice Gilbert
One of the most stressful things about a job search for some is updating the resume. Or – even more daunting – building a resume for the first time, particularly after amassing a great deal of experience.
Resume trends come and go (the notion that a resume must be one page in all circumstances, for instance, is outdated), but a few things have remained true over the years. Among them: the purpose of the resume should be to win you an interview. (Once you’re in the door, your winning the job will rest largely on your charm and candor.)
Poorly constructed resumes don’t result in nearly as many interviews, so you’ll need to put some thought into what yours says. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Be specific. Be detailed in describing not only what you’ve done in past roles, but – more importantly – the value you added as a result. Achievements speak louder than a laundry list of duties, so focus on outlining results. Provide dollar figures and percentage improvements when applicable. “Developed and introduced streamlined process for ordering product, decreasing expenses by $50K monthly” is a far more impressive statement than “Implemented process change to minimize costs.”
- Order information strategically. Consider which elements of your background are most relevant and present those first. If you’re pursuing a role in finance, but your education is in history, any applicable work experience, internships or even volunteer work (providing it is relevant) should take precedence. Likewise, no matter how proud you are of having participated in the New York City Marathon, if you have to omit relevant accomplishments or experience to include this detail, then you shouldn’t.
- Limit how much you divulge. The best practice for most professionals is to provide detail on the most recent 10 to 15 years of experience. Integral earlier experience, if it must be kept, can be relegated to an Early Employment section with years omitted. Detailing decades of employment is generally not a good idea, as it can date you.
- Don’t be afraid to go to two pages. If necessary. If you’re a new grad, chances are good that you don’t have enough experience to warrant more than one page. If you’re seeking upper management or executive roles, the expectation is that you have enough successes under your belt to carry your resume beyond the first page.
- Read and reread before submission. This applies to your resume and cover letter, as well as the instructions for applying. Documents peppered with typos won’t do you any favors and indicate that you’re not much for details. If the employer has specifically requested a PDF and you submit a Word doc, your resume may be filed in the trash bin, as it will appear that you can’t follow simple instructions.
Maurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Regulatory Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Maurice can be reached at www.conselium.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.