Okay, this week’s editorial is not really going to be about the usual geeky stuff that I write about. I decided, since it’s the new year, I ought to dispense a little friendly advice for those who are looking for work right now. Now, what makes a geek like me qualified to give any advice? Nothing really. Aside for the fact that used to work in middle management for around 10 years, nothing at all!
Before I decided to start writing more often (which is why I started two sites, 3rd World Geeks and Geek Wisdom, as well as become a contributing writer for Gamemoir… and, yes, I am shamelessly plugging these sites so please click on the links and view them!), I worked as a supervisor for three companies. For safety’s sake, I’m not going to mention the companies. But it came to a point when I didn’t feel fulfilled with what I was doing so I decided to resign and take the plunge and become a writer.
Anyway, a big part of my job was interviewing job applicants. I actually have a few good ideas as to why a lot of people don’t do well during them and one of them actually happens even before the interview begins! And that thing happens to be the resume they hand in.
So, here are a few tips on how to prepare a good resume!
1) Keep it short
A resume shouldn’t read like a novel! Most veteran employees make the mistake of writing resumes around 3 pages or more! I remember I had to interview someone who gave us a resume with 6 pages! That person detailed everything from her previous 7 jobs up to when she went to kindergarten! Oh, and she also noted all of her hobbies (like collecting Twilight memorabilia). That’s a little too much information!
In my opinion, 2 pages is sufficient; any more will make it seem like you’re overcompensating for something. I’m not saying you cut out your employment history but try to be brief with your early jobs and make sure your current or most recent job information is up-to-date. If you’ve been employed a lot, a short sentence stating what you’ve done during your tenure there is enough for the old jobs you’ve done and cut out where you went to high school already!
2) Put in your achievements, not your responsibilities
There’s a piece of advice I heard which rings true when it comes to writing a good resume: Mention the things you’ve done, not the things you do. Your resume should say what are the major accomplishments you’ve achieved during your time in the job and not what you do on a day-to-day basis.
If you really think about it, managers and HR personnel generally know what you’re supposed to do based on your job title, so there’s no need to note them down. If you got an award for being the best secretary of the year or you noticed a major scheduling conflict and fixed it before it became a problem (and got recognized for it), that’s definitely more impressive than just noting down your daily humdrum work tasks.
Not only that, there’s also a hidden bonus for noting those things: you actually get more control over the interview! Interviewers surprisingly like to read through the resumes before they conduct the interviews. They do this to take note of weird stuff, like long periods of unemployment.
So, if they do see something noteworthy (like a major achievement), they take note of it and will ask you about it. In essence, you have the advantage of knowing they’ll ask you about it and you can already prepare a fantastic answer beforehand!
3) Stop putting job objectives!
My personal pet peeve. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen “Job Objectives” that reads like this:
“My job objective is to enhance my skills and become successful in my career.”
Now, what’s wrong with what’s written above? It doesn’t tell me anything about the applicant! What skills do you want to enhance? What’s your definition of having a successful career? And what career are you talking about? It doesn’t give me any information about the applicant that will want me to get him/her immediately!
The reason why I dislike job objectives in resumes is not because they’re unnecessary, but because they’re so generic! I know most people put it in because they were told to do so. But, if you’re not going to edit it for every specific job you’re applying to, then just get rid of it! Unless you state things like “help me learn more about accounting” or “become a manager in the future” or something specific, most interviewers know this section is just crap!
Once again, the tips outlined above are from my own personal experience and by no means a complete list. I’m not saying these are foolproof instructions as each middle manager that perform the interviews have their own personal preferences. However, these tips did work for me in actually becoming a middle manager so I’m just offering my suggestions and I do hope they work for you… but don’t blame me if they don’t!
What are your personal tips in writing a good resume? Have you tried following the tips outlined here? Did they help? Let me know in the comments section below!