The Perfect Résumé (Doesn’t Exist)
Often, one of the very first requests we receive from new clients seeking career advice is help with their résumé — and typically, clients have already asked numerous other people to review and critique their résumé. Smart, qualified, well-intentioned, and caring people look over these résumés and offer numerous, conflicting perspectives and preferences. Job seekers can write and rewrite their résumés dozens of times based on such advice. My advice is: Don’t let this happen to you!
As a career advisor for Johnson alumni since 2006, and over sixteen years of experience in executive and corporate recruiting, I’ve seen résumés that work and résumés that fail. I know how important it is to develop and design your résumé and its content to match the requirements of the job you are seeking. There is no such thing as a perfect résumé, but there are résumés that work well. Here is my best résumé advice:
- Think of your résumé as a marketing tool for the job you are going after, not a summary of what you did in each of your past jobs. It must include what you did in those past jobs — projects, responsibilities, accomplishments — that specifically qualifies you for the position you are seeking.
- Make it easy for the reader to see that you have the experience they are asking for and need. Include results of your work and quantify everything you can (dollars of sales, percentage of growth, etc.) Measurable results add real impact to your bulleted statements.
- Avoid common mistakes. Top executives have identified the two most common mistakes job seekers make on their résumés: (1) typos and grammatical errors, and (2) including too much information. A résumé should not be a “data dump” – it should include targeted information geared to interest an employer hiring for a specific job. You do not need to include the duties in previous jobs that are irrelevant to your goal.
- Provide a brief, four- or five-sentence summary at the top of your résumé that encapsulates key information about you and your career path. This is your chance to draw attention to relevant skills and experiences that address a potential employer’s specific needs.
- “Hook” the reader with the first few bullet points about each job — just as a good piece of journalism does. Résumé readers tend to skim initially, so make sure they can quickly see what you want them to see, using action verbs that match their job requirements.
- Format your résumé so that key information is clear and easy to find. The names of your previous employers, job titles, universities where you earned your degrees, as well as dates of employment and graduations — all these should stand out and be quick and easy to pinpoint.
As always, for more guidance and advice, contact your alumni career advisors, Lynne Allen and Laurie Sedgwick, and be sure to visit Johnson Alumni Career Resources.
To schedule an appointment with Lynne Allen, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
To schedule an appointment with Laurie Sedgwick, please email Erin Palmer at email@example.com.