Modern day resume rules
Are you still clinging to the old fashioned resume rules? Read on as I rewrite the olden days rules to fit this modern world of job hunting!
I remember when I first learned to write a resume there were a few "rules" I was taught that I must adhere to in order to secure that interview - but I can tell you after screening tens of thousands of resumes over the past 15 years that many of those "rules" are completely false. And the worst thing is that I still see them recommended all the time now. I want to use the experience I’ve gained plus the knowledge gained from industry professionals to reframe these old fashioned rules to fit into our modern day.
1. Resume Length
The standard for so long now is 1-2 pages, but that standard was created back in the day when a recruiter or hiring manager had to go through paper resumes. But now? Most resumes are only looked at online so scrolling through the pages is nothing. That's not to say you should submit a 10 page resume if you are a new grad! But it does give you a little more flexibility. I think of it in terms of level of career. If you are new to your career then stick to that 1-2 pages, if you are experienced you can go up to 2-3 pages, and if you are an executive or seasoned professional than 3-5 pages is completely acceptable and in fact would be preferred.
The key here is to make sure the resume gives a good picture of who you are and how you match the job requirements - you don’t want it to be too short (or too long) where that message is lost.
2. Need a strong "Objective" statement
Now I'm not opposed to the objective statement, but 80% of hiring managers or recruiters do no read the objective or professional statement, me included. When I’m advising clients I advise them to include a shot succinct and tailored objective statement giving an overview of who they are as a professional. What I like about the objective is it gives the resume writer a focus to grow upon. To be honest thought, the main reason I like it? It isn't for the content but more for the layout and look of the resume!
The key here is to include one that makes sense for who you are and what job you are applying to but don’t spend more than a minute or two on it!
3. Resume must be black and white.
This is another rule from the old fashioned job search era. But now, a little bit of colour goes a long way in getting your resume noticed, especially if the role is creative or there is anything in the posting about looking for innovative, thinking outside of the box, or creative problem solving. There are a couple of ways I've seen color used right - in the formatting (blue lines, coloured headers) or in the content (name, position titles, company titles in colour).
The key is to use the colour sparingly and in an intentional way to ensure it, and therefore you, will really pop!
4. Two Resume Types - Reverse Chronological or Skills Based/Functional
There is only one choice - the reverse chronological. I have a strong dislike for the Skills Based/Functional and toss it aside when one comes across my desk - a sentiment shared by many hiring managers and recruiters. We typically spend 10 seconds for an initial review of a resume looking at the following:
The key here is simple, use the reverse chronological resume format! If you have gaps of employment, don’t worry. If you work experience doesn’t contain your relevant experience, there are other ways around that (posts for another day!)
5. Your Resume gets you the Interview
Yes, in some cases you resume alone does get you the interview. But in this modern age of job hunting chances are there are some other factors at play. A lot of hiring managers and recruiters check out your social media accounts. So please check your Facebook - what is the privacy, do you have a "professional" profile pic and cover photo (make sure they are appropriate, something you be comfortable with your grandmother seeing!), same with your Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat feeds. If you have a lot of inappropriate posts then make your feeds private. Also update that LinkedIn! Include a really nice photograph of yourself, just yourself, no one else. Most importantly, make sure it lines up with your resume! I have gotten a resume that fit exactly what I was looking for then went to their LinkedIn only to find a completely different story, that raised a major red flag and I questioned their honesty. Needless to say those people do not get the interview.
Don't forget the leg work you did before applying, search LinkedIn to see who you may think the hiring manager is and if they are in your network maybe have someone introduce you to them. If this is a targeted company you have been interested in then I hope you have already made some contacts with the hiring managers so reach back out with a separate email to your application with your resume reminding them on your initial conversation. In these cases it is your networking that gets you the job interview!
The key here is to take your job search seriously. When clients and I work together to develop their job search strategy, I make sure to include the social media updates and the many different forms of networking. I encourage you to do the same, that leg work goes a long way in securing you those coveted interviews!
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Mastering the phone interview
People always talk about the resume and the face to face interview but they often forget about a key step in the process - the phone interview. It is now pretty commonplace for a corporate recruiter/talent acquisition specialist to call a short list of candidates to conduct a telephone prescreen. Also when working with agency recruiters, they tend to do most of their interviewing over the phone. So knowing how to act and present yourself in a professional and open manner over the telephone is necessary for success.
What to Expect
First of all, not all telephone interviews are preplanned. There are times when a recruiter will pick up the phone and call so be prepared to be caught off guard! If it isn't a good time (you are at work, driving or home with noisy kids) do not be afraid to ask to schedule a better time. When you are distracted you are not able to give it your all and the background noises will distract the recruiter from giving you their undivided attention both resulting in a decreased liklihood of you getting asked in for a face to face!
The phone prescreen is usually about 15-30 minutes in length with the recruiter going through your resume and asking specific skills based questions. They may touch base on why you applied, your salary expectations and your availability.
Keys to Success
Some of these will sound silly and common sense, but you would be surprised how often we forget them!
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Sara Curto helps people find a career they love by teaching them a new way to job search.
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