How to write a killer résumé
Your résumé should tell a compelling story that shines a light on your abilities and achievements.
For starters, you’ll need a summary statement similar to the elevator pitch I referenced in last week’s edition. Don’t be shy. Your goal is to pique the reader’s interest in you.
Once you’ve nailed that message, here’s a guide to crafting a résumé that does you proud:
- Target your skills. Let’s suppose that your four strongest skill sets are data analysis, project management, leading change and product development. Create a basic résumé for each of them. These will provide an easy-to-scan (more on that below) overview that describes your education, background and previous roles most pertinent to that particular skill set. This way you’re ready to apply for at least four types of roles.
- Customize. Avoid creating a generic, one-size–fits-all résumé. Instead, tailor a résumé to every job you pursue. Fortunately, you can draw from your skill-set résumés for job-specific versions.
- Make it easy to read. Choose a crisp and clean format. Use white space, bullet points and bolded text to make your content super scannable. And keep it to no more than two pages in length. People rarely take the time to read an entire résumé. They skim it for words and phrases that match the traits and talents they’re looking for.
- Start strong. Order your content flow so that the most relevant and compelling parts of your story are at the top. For instance, if you recently earned an MBA, mention it early on. But if you received an educational honor ten years ago, save it for the end.
- Don’t dwell on the past. Make it easy for the reader to get the gist of your work history. Focus on capturing the variety of roles you’ve played and the promotions you’ve earned. One way to do that is to bundle jobs at the same company together.
- Focus on results. Readers are less interested in what you did than in what you achieved. For example, if you “designed and implemented a leadership development program,” your bullet point might read like this: “I shaped company direction, having trained more than 20 Fortune 500 executives on how to boost brand awareness and influence consumer behavior.”
Whenever possible, back up your claims with financial results—for example, increased revenues or cost savings. For many roles, the bottom-line is all-important.
Before you act . . .
Ask someone who won’t spare your feelings to review your résumé, but give them just a few minutes. Then ask them to share some things they remember reading. That way you’ll know if your key strengths and accomplishments are coming through loud and clear.
Next up in Land the Job You Want: How to ace an interview