Updated: Jun 20
Your resume is one of the most important tools you should maintain for your career, and keep up to date at all times!
Most people only worry about updating their resume when they are ready to apply for a job, however, As an experienced Career Coach and HR Professional, I encourage you to keep your resume updated at all times! You never know when an opportunity is going to come your way and you want to be ready! The last thing you want is for the opportunity to go to someone else, because you weren't ready or prepared and your competition was!
What is a powerful resume?
A powerful resume summarizes your experience and education in any desired field or area you want to obtain a job in, and it highlights your talents, abilities, skills, certifications, accomplishments, and any other related information to help you get the position you are striving to obtain. A powerful resume should:
Highlight your knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Show you meet the minimum qualifications and/or any preferences of the job.
Include current or previous experiences that reflect what the job posting is specifying as far as the requirements and preferences needed for the position. (This will help the candidate show they are indeed a good fit for the role, and will increase your chances of a call to interview.)
Showcase your education, licenses, and certifications.
List your accomplishments within each job you have held.
Explain why each of your accomplishments are important, and how it benefited the organization or positively affected the bottom line. (Basically it will quantity your accomplishments.)
Show organizations how your accomplishments and what you bring to the table that can ultimately help them.
Indicate new job titles, work functions, or changes to your job responsibilities. (Don't forget to update these changes as they happen within your role. Also, if you have been at the same company but grew within your role as far as your title or responsibilities highlight this growth as well.)
Include any volunteer or internship work that could be relevant in the role that you are applying for to showcase your abilities and experience. (Regardless if you were paid for the job or not. Experience is experience. Don't discount the experience you gained or skills learned during your time as a volunteer or intern.)
Showcase any awards you've received.
Be customized specifically for the industry and position you are applying for. (Try not to use a general resume for your applications. The more you customize your resume you are helping your chances of being seen as a professional within the field or industry you are applying for. This may take more time and effort during the initial stages of the application process, but in the long run it will help you get the job your desire. Trust me! It works!)
Determine what will make your resume stand out in a positive way.
To make your resume stand out in a positive way it helps to use key words specified on the job posting or that are relevant in the industry in regards to the position you are applying for.
These key words will also help your resume stand out in the applicant tracking system (which is the system you use to submit your application for online) so your resume gets seen by the Recruiter. This is called search engine optimization or "SEO". Most companies use applicant tracking systems to help sort through hundreds or thousands of applicants by using a search engine optimization tool within the applicant tracking system to filter through each resume, and flag the resumes that include the key words the Recruiter identifies.
The Recruiter and/or hiring manager use key words from the actual job description of the position they are advertising to create the job posting a candidate sees and applies for. They do this so they can find the right candidate to fill the vacant position they are wanting to fill. Therefore, why not highlight those key words.....right?
This will also help show that you have knowledge and maybe even credibility in the industry you are applying for. Ultimately this will help you stand out amongst your competition!
What takes a candidate's resume immediately to the "yes" pile?
When a candidate is able to demonstrate they meet the minimum requirements of the job as well as the preferences, this will immediately move the candidate to the "yes" pile. It will also improve the candidate's chances of being a top candidate which will allow this candidate a chance to get interviewed for the role.
This is why I strongly encourage you to customize your resume for the position you are applying for. Yes, it is more time consuming, however the more efficient and strategic you are with your efforts on the front end of your job search, the more effective you will be in obtaining the job and even career you want in the long run!
What things should candidates leave off their resumes?
It's helpful for candidates to know that certain things do not need to be included on their resume. One thing that can be left off a resume is the candidate's salary expectations. This is more of a conversation the candidate can have with the Recruiter and/or hiring manager. Please see my article on Salary Negotiation Tips...the Do's and Don'ts.
Also, the candidate does not have to include verbiage about references being "available upon request". A Recruiter and/or hiring manager will be sure to ask the candidate for references at the proper stage of the interview process. This tip will allow you to have more room on your resume to include what is really important.
As an experienced HR and Recruitment Professional, one resume trend I'd like to see end is.....
Candidates including their picture on their resume is not necessary. It's not necessary during the application process, and instead of helping you could actually harm you. As a result a candidate may experience intentional or even unintentional bias. Bias is when some candidates preferential treatment and consideration over others with the same skills, knowledge, and abilities.
It's best to focus and highlight your skills vs. what you look like. Recruitment practices should be fair and provide each candidate with an equal opportunity for employment. A Recruiter and hiring manager's job is to treat each candidate fairly, select the candidate who will be a high performer, be a good fit, and meet the needs of the role.
If a Recruiter really wants to know what you look like they can do the research and find you here on LinkedIn. There is no need for the Recruiter or hiring manager to see your picture during the initial stages of the application process.
A resume myth you'd I'd like to provide clarification on is....
One myth about resumes that I have heard a countless number of times is that candidates have to make sure their resume is only one page. I can assure you that is not true.
As a former Recruiter for over 13 years, Recruitment Manager, Human Resources Director and leader, if I had to review a resume that was longer than 2 pages I didn't care as long as it was the right candidate for the job!
For example, during my experience recruiting at a private college, we would come across resumes from experienced Professors who had 3-5 page resumes, sometimes longer than this. Long resumes were standard in the education industry for academic Professors.
The key is don't focus on a specific page length of your resume. Instead, focus on highlighting the skills and experience that will get you the position you desire. If the position requires 10 or more years of experience, your job is to make sure a Recruiter and/or hiring manager can see that on your resume without a doubt. Highlighting this experience may make your resume longer, but that's okay if it will show you are the most qualified candidate for the job.
If you follow these powerful resume tips...
I guarantee you will help yourself stand out from your competition. In my experience as a Recruiter, Recruitment Manager, and Human Resources leader for over 13 years, I have seen the value of implementing these helpful resume tips. I hope I have encouraged you to put time, effort, and energy into building a powerful resume. I wish you the best in preparing your future job searches. If you need additional help I can help you further with individualized coaching to help you to accomplish your career goals!
For more information on Discover Your Power Coaching click here.