3 More Steps to Resume Success


Photo:  Arielle Fragassi
Thursday night I participated in a resume review session for Brazen Careerist. I’ve done many events with Brazen, and they are always beneficial. Plus it’s been fun to see the “Network Roulette” – which I wrote about when it was just getting started – really come into its own. Overall, the review session was really well done from my perspective, and I hope my input was helpful to whoever I spoke with during the event.

For those of you not familiar with the network roulette format, I was randomly paired with someone who wanted help with their resumes. I got eight minutes to view the person’s resume and give them whatever advice I could. I “met” some strong candidates, and others who needed a lot of work on their marketing material. I’ll mention a few themes I saw repeatedly throughout the night.

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers
You need to quantify anything and everything you can. Why? Because that’s the proof and it’s how to convey that what you did matters. Did you grow a community? Prove it! From what to what? From 100 to 500? Fantastic – THAT means something. That speaks. Saying you grew a community is just words – back it up with numbers. If you did something amazing and you expect that to speak for itself – it won’t. Numbers tell the story. They are the spice in your resume’s life.

To take things even further, don’t just leave it at numbers if you can. Convert it to dollars – that speaks even louder! Did you save your employer or client money? Say it! And tell me how much. You are literally selling yourself off the page when you start talking about saving money or growing revenue. Remember – you’re expensive as hell to hire, so everyone wants a money maker (saver, etc.).

Side note here: A lot of people don’t believe or just disregard this point. People think they don’t need to spell out numbers or money because it’s implied, or it’s unnecessary because you’re an expert or have an amazing degree. This is very, very wrong. Everyone cares about numbers. Everyone has to answer for how much money they spend or bring in.

Edit Ruthlessly
Mentally construct a robust, fine-set, almost impermeable filter for your resume. Every thought you have or every bullet point you consider adding must pass through this filter. It’s the “So what?” filter. The “So what?” filter has one objective – to make sure everything on your resume matters. It prevents any fluff or empty accolade. It prevents any vagueness or allusions. Basically, it prevents anything that the reader has to question from being on your resume. If you have a bullet point (you should have bullet points) on your resume and it is not abundantly clear, immediately, what it means and why that matters to a hiring manager – cut it or reshape it to make it obvious. We’re talking 3rd grader obvious. Nothing implied, nothing suggested – hit them over the head with it.

No One Will Read it Anyway
Your resume will first go through a screener or parser. There it will be scanned and checked for keywords, categorizing you by how many of the required keywords or other information your resume contains. Then if you get by the screeners, it’s in front of a recruiter to 10 seconds – maybe. So even if it gets to a person, it’s not being read, it’s being scanned… quickly. Keep that in mind when you’re writing. Long sentences or paragraphs are bad. Short bullet points with a painfully obvious point and numbers – good.

Resume writing sucks, and if you look at it too long it will get very cloudy. The folks that participated in the resume review session were definitely doing the right thing by getting a fresh set of eyes to review their work. The more input and perspective you can get, the better. It can be nerve wracking and easy to get defensive, but just remember that everything you learn gets you closer to that job. Keep it succinct, use numbers, and have others review it. These three things are sure to produce a better resume.

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Tim Murphy is the founder of ApplyMate.com - the first free web app to help you track school and job applications.

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