Career Coach Alex Freund likens a Recruiter looking for a winning résumé to a person searching for a unique sweater in a department store.
“A lot goes into making a sweater,” says Freund, who gave a presentation on résumé tips recently at The Trinity Church in Princeton.
Someone has to design and sew the garment. The company has to ship the sweater to the store, which has to market it. All that has to happen before you even walk into the shop, he explained.
Doesn’t this lengthy process sound strikingly similar to the countless hours we all spend as we constantly rework our résumés?
Back to the sweater analogy, when you go into the store, you don’t want to buy every sweater in the place, says Freund. All you want is a sweater that looks good, is the right size/fit, color, and style, he said. And that’s what a Recruiter is really looking for when he or she reads your résumé – that perfect “sweater.”
Typically, Recruiters take just ten seconds to review a résumé, says Freund. So, make sure yours answers the company’s most important question, that is, “What can you do for me?”
Your résumé should be a “discussion of how you can help an organization,” says Freund. “The hiring process is a selection process; to be selected you have to stand out,” says the Career Coach.
“Make sure you create multiple résumés. Tailor each to what every company needs. You should have a master résumé and customize it for each different job you apply for. Your résumé should be a billboard to entice the reader to want to learn more about you,” says Freund.
Don’t turn your résumé into just a list of tasks you’ve performed over the years. “Recruiters want to see your accomplishments and contributions. Be sure to front load your accomplishments. Did you save (a former) company time or money (or both)?” Freund asks.
How should your résumé look? It should be simple, easy-to-read, and organized in a standard format. When creating your résumé, the point size of the typeface you use is also important, says Freund, who recommends using nothing below 12-point type throughout.
Don’t forget to point out your current skills on your résumé, too. “Look at what you are doing now. How does it apply to the job you want?” he asked.
Ask yourself if your résumé meets the top three requirements of the position a company wants to fill. Does it attempt to project what you can do for the employer in the future? Freund asks. Again, avoid the temptation of going into the minutia of your past work experiences. Tailor your résumé specifically to the job you want because “one size does not fit all,” says the Career Coach.
How much detail should your résumé actually provide? Recruiters will focus on your most recent activities and are only interested in what you did in the last ten years, says Freund. “Don’t make me look through 20 years’ worth of experience and then have to decide what does and does not apply to my needs,” he said.
As to the page length of your résumé, in the past, like everyone else, Freund sternly recommended just two pages no matter what type of work you did. Nowadays, he’s reconsidered that stance and says a résumé that is two-to-three pages is acceptable.
No matter what page length you choose, don’t be afraid to include any hobbies, interests, or activities on your résumé.
Freund told a story about Career Coach Abby Kohut, a.k.a. Absolutely Abby, who included on one of her résumés that she was a Ping-Pong champion. When she used that résumé during an interview, her Interviewer seemed very excited about her Ping-Pong abilities “and she got the job!” Freund exclaimed.
Another thing, always proofread your résumé multiple times before sending it to anyone. Make sure it’s devoid of any obvious mistakes, like “typographical errors, poor grammar, weak wording,” warns Freund.
A poor résumé is not visually attractive and does not focus on the position you are after. Avoid long sentences, lengthy paragraphs, and inserting too many industry-specific terms, or acronyms, he said.
“Your résumé has to be clear. Make it easy for me to understand what you are trying to communicate. I don’t have the time or the patience to try to interpret what you are saying,” says the Career Coach.
Lastly, when trying to determine how best to fashion your résumé Freund suggests putting yourself in the place of the Recruiter, Interviewer, or Hiring Manager.
“Why should I want to talk with you? – because the information you provided is a great match,” he says. Make sure you don’t have disqualifiers that are evident, that you gave enough information, that your résumé is intriguing enough for me to want to ask more questions,” says Freund.
By Barbara Perone