There are lots of standard “rules” for the creation of a CV or resume – rules that have been around for several years. Job candidates know, for example, that their physical addresses need not be included; they know that they must focus on achievements rather than just task responsibilities; they know that a photo of themselves is no longer considered appropriate. They even know that there are certain keywords for their professional skills which should be “dropped” into the document, in order to pass a digital scan.
There are some new additional “must haves” and “must not haves,” however, that may not yet be common knowledge. Here are 11 of them.
- You Should Have a Title or a Headline. Think about this for a minute. When a recruiter or hiring manager is looking at dozens or resumes in a short period of time, all of them generally look the same. The have the individual’s name at the top and then perhaps the title, “Professional Resume” centered below that. Or they may skip that title and just begin with the “Professional Summary.” You can put an engaging headline at the very top of your resume, and yours will grab some initial attention. Of course, your headline must relate to your career and/or the position for which you are applying, such as “Web designer with a Creative Edge.”
- Have that Resume Somewhere Online and Coordinate Everything: Maybe several places. If you have a website, it should obviously be there; it should be on your LinkedIn profile. And they should all be the same regarding the important things – education, experiences, dates of employment. And here is the other thing about that: whenever you post something on a social media, and it relates to your job or your background, be certain that it jibes with what your resume says. Everything must be in sync.
- Be Mindful of Short Attention Spans: The newest trend in resume writing is short, snackable one-liners, almost as if you tweeting. And this seems to be the trend with cover letters as well. If you can write one-line statements of accomplishments and then leave lots of white space in between, your reader ill snack on your resume more easily and focus on the line at hand, digesting it fully before moving the eye down to the next. If you must write longer prose, make it no more than three lines before you stick in some white space.
- Use Bullet Points in Cover Letter: Traditionally, cover letters have been in paragraph form and bullet points reserved for the resume. A new “must do” is to provide more white space in the cover letter as well, by highlighting your major related skills and experience with bullets. No prose should be more than two lines.
- Links to all Profiles in the Resume Document: Your social media profiles are a part of your resume now. So, be certain to provide links to all of them at the end of our resume.
- Add Some Color
Using color does spruce up your document. Use colors that are a match for the “culture” of each organization to which you are applying. Navy and Maroon are good for more conservative organizations; splashier colors are okay for “looser” more progressive companies. Colors are good as borders, for you name, and as dividers between sections of your document. If the company has a website, check out the colors they use, and use the same ones – it’s a psychological thing, but it does help you stand out.
It is considered a good idea to attach additional applicant materials that is relevant to the position as appendices to your resume. This is more convenient for the reader than accessing those materials online.
- Keywords as Close to the top as Possible
Get those keywords in toward the top of your resume. Put as many as you can and still sound reasonable in your professional summary
This may be subtle or overt. Your “brand,” which should include both hard and soft skills can be presented in your summary of scattered throughout your work experience.
- Less is Better
As short as you can make your document, the better chance you will have that it is read in its entirety, as long as it makes it through the digital scanning. Experienced candidates may go two pages; entry level candidates should shoot for one page. If you can add appendices, as previously mention, these can provide additional information for an interested recruiter or hiring manager.
- Understand that Resumes are Here for a While Yet
There are many who predict that the time for submission of a resume is fast disappearing. Such predictors say that as long as you have the necessary education and work experience online, on your social media profiles, on your blog or personal website, all you need do is send over a “cover letter” with links to all of these things. But her is the thing: recruiters and hiring managers are busy people. They tend to want things right there in front of them, rather than being forced to click links to find you and your brand on several different places. The ultimate solution may be to have your own website that a potential employer can navigate through to get a holistic picture of you. That person then needs to only make one click-through. The day will probably come when this is the preferred method of screening candidates. For now, however, take these suggestions and see to it that your resume stands out.
Resumes Are Not Going Away
Articles prophesying the death of the resume seem to surface at least once every year. I don’t claim to have a crystal ball, but I believe resumes are here to stay. Not too many people get hired these days without having to turn in a resume. They may not be the centerpiece of the job search as they were years ago (although many job-seekers tend to cling to them, hyper-focusing on them as the magic bullet that will allow them to escape the necessity of networking), but resumes continue to remain a vital element in job search.