Whether you are an experienced professional with many years in the workforce or just out of college, a resume is your passport to new and exciting fields of endeavor and should be regarded for the power it possesses.
Here are some Dos and Don’ts to consider.
DO keep your resume updated. Regardless of how much or how little time you may have in your current position, you constantly are gaining new experience. Waiting too long between updates could mean forgetting to add that experience to your next renewal. Also, with the volatility of the job market, you never know when you may need your resume. Rushing around to add new content because you are suddenly out of work typically leads to a less-than-stellar document. By keeping it current, you will be less harried should the unexpected happen or an intriguing opportunity to advance your career presents itself.
DO make sure your resume speaks to the intended audience. For those who have amassed work experience, it is likely that not all experience will be apropos to positions that interest you. A ‘one size fits all’ approach rarely works well if this describes you. Identifying and targeting best-fit story points that speak to your audience’s needs assures you supply those employers with a focused resume. While some experience will certainly cross over, such as a sales professional looking to move into a consultative role, your ‘great closing percentage’ will be of little consequence to the company needing a new admissions officer.
DO seek professional advice. This may seem like a no-brainer to some, but believe it or not, there are still those who insist on going it alone when it comes to this vital piece of career strategy. No one knows their own career better than you do. However, putting that information together to create a document that will blow away your competition may require massaging by an expert who knows how to strategically nuanced content based on your professional goals. At the very least, if you are committed to writing your own resume, you may want to research professional resume writing books to guide you in current resume development methods.
DO NOT add on to the bottom of an existing document. Have you ever seen an old beat-up car with a brand new fender? The new part typically only makes the rest of the car look even worse. The same is true of a resume that simply has new content added on. Take the time to rebuild your resume completely when you feel the need to add in new experience. The new information should be integrated and become a part of the bigger and better picture – not an afterthought.
DO NOT embellish your expertise. Trying to overcome certain shortcomings in your career by overstating your abilities will only lead to disappointment for all involved. Be honest with yourself and your potential employer. Remember, no matter what they may have advertised as a requirement for the position, these requirements are a wish list in many cases. Your skill level may not line up perfectly, but it may very well be closer than anyone else who has applied. Be brave and take a chance. It is always better to lose honestly than to win dishonestly. It will always come back to haunt you.
DO NOT worry about the length. Too often professionals shortchange themselves by being overly sensitive about the length of their resume. The number of pages has no impact on employers looking to fill a position. The key is in making certain the information is clear, concise, and lines up with the needs of the employer. Think about the last book you read. If the story was interesting from start to finish, did you concern yourself with how many pages it took to tell the story? Of course not. Your resume is no different. No HR professional has ever turned away a job seeker because the resume was too long, especially if it proves them out to be the best-qualified candidate for the job.
While this list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your resume, adhering to it will have a lasting and positive effect on what is arguably the most important part of your personal career portfolio.
Kathleen Houlihan is a leader in workforce innovation and she is the Founder of an agency that reimagines talent acquisition and optimizes the system for candidates and employers. Her company, Dream2Career, provides human-centric ROI solutions that filter-in candidates who exceed expectations in the workplace.