How to write your resume — It’s time to stand out from the crowd, to be bold, to be creative, and separate yourself from the competition by “humanizing” your resume rather than have a career summary that reads more like a legal document, full of jargon and corporate management-speak.
There are hundreds of articles out there teaching you how to write and structure a resume and in what format, etc, so there is little point in covering the same here, so I will leave the format choice to you and help you focus on the real issues that employers want to uncover from your resume:
- What specific value can you bring to them?
- An insight into who you are.
Many people focus on giving a detailed description of what they know, the tasks they have completed and the results they have achieved, which is why the STAR method is so popular.
But I believe that people are becoming far too focused on the process than the result.
And that’s why I believe you should abandon the acronyms, forget about conforming and abandon most career coaches.
You simply must learn to trust yourself and take back full control of the job-seeking process.
You are the greatest corporation of all — you are unique, so make sure you succeed in the most important job of all…the CEO of “you.”
Think about it — if everyone is using the same method to prepare themselves for interviews and ultimately jobs, how are you going to be different if you follow the same?
Sure, what you know and what you can do will be different from the next person…but many hiring authorities are so entrenched in the process that they often forget the purpose…and the uniqueness of the person.
You have to disrupt it, but in a way that gets 2 key points firmly across:
- What value you can bring to your prospective employer.
- And an insight into who you are, as well as what you know.
I believe that resumes will cease to exist — at least as we know them today, but for the moment, it is a document that is still firmly in use and part of the hiring process, but you can do things differently, which is what this article is all about.
Take a look at this definition of what a resume is and in comparison to a longer document known as a curriculum vitae (CV).
Remember that the ultimate goal of writing your resume is to make sure you get the opportunity to interview at the company you are choosing to work for.
Death Of The Resume
In my experience as a recruiter and owner of a global staffing company, I can tell you that most resumes are a complete waste of time — I cannot get to know someone from a piece of paper, and while I marvel at some of the language people use to dress up their skills and qualifications, I really don’t have any idea as to how they can perform in the real world…my world.
So what I am looking for falls into the 2 key points I have highlighted above…plus some evidence that they have done some homework on my company and prepared their resume accordingly.
There is nothing worse than seeing a generic resume landing in my inbox full of stock statements that bear little relation to my company.
Some of the resumes I have seen and still continue to see simply do not get my attention or engage me in any way.
Think of a resume as you would when landing on a website for the first time — it is estimated that a website has around 8 seconds to grab your attention and I would view a resume as the same, so please get away from the following words just to make a start:
“Adding value,” — it is more important to talk specifics than using what to me are these meaningless words.
“Unique skillsets,” — unless you are really a one-off, there is nothing really unique.
“Leveraging,” — reminds me of the “noughties” where “corporate management speak” really came into its own.
“Best-in-class” — another throwback statement that is largely meaningless.
There are tons more of course, but I’m sure you get the idea and you can see why the traditional resume is dying a death and if you need any information on people, you can simply google them!
And finally, another word about Google — make sure you research the company your resume will be sent to and this will come into play next.
How To Write Your Resume
I am going to break the process down into 3 simple steps and it is important to make sure you cover the 3 main media channels:
Text — some people like myself, love to read and will do so at our leisure, but only if the reading is compelling.
Audio — Not everyone can take the time to watch a video and they also may not be in a position to do so even if they wanted to, such as when driving home from work, so audio is another great way to communicate.
Video — this is becoming more and more popular and the reasons are obvious, especially in the job world. You can gain instant insight into the person when you can see and hear them.
Make sure you cover all 3 formats and that it is clear on the resume, right at the top, and after the usual personal information that you provide.
Step 1 — Something Personal
I love to see a statement at the top of a resume that tells me something personal about the individual such as how they decided to get into their industry and also something that conveys passion and it could look like this:
“I knew from an early age that I was born to be an xxx and that’s what I have dreamt about for as long as I can remember. I am passionate about the industry and took every and any opportunity to work with companies as I was growing up and I couldn’t wait to start my first job with xxx when I left college. I am truly grateful to them for giving me my first work opportunity.”
A simple paragraph like the above tells me a lot — there is a passion for the industry and it’s something that the person has focussed on throughout their life.
They have also talked about taking opportunities as and when they arose, plus they are acknowledging their first employer.
This is an extremely important step and even if you are applying for your first job as it automatically gives a warm feeling to the resume and provides further opportunities for discussion.
Step 2 — Your Specific Value Proposition
This is where the magic happens and where you have to match you to your first or next employer.
If it is your first job, then you will focus on the personal aspects of the proposition, but you can tie in any work experience in any field, as it demonstrates that you can work in a commercial organization.
If you are applying for your next role, make sure you have researched the organization and understood the value proposition they are giving to their customers, because in the first instance, you must make sure you are aligned to it.
Then you will get specific to your job role.
You now have to think of yourself as a commercial entity and one that is going to be selling its services to another commercial entity and it simply comes down to the outcome you are going to provide to the company as a result of them hiring you.
It’s a simple, two-way street — they are going to pay you a salary to provide a service to them, which will in some way improve their sales, their processes, and procedures and may result in saving costs both for them and their end-user customers.
Your value proposition must deal with any or all of these key points before going into specifics and that is what will gain the attention of your audience.
Remember — If you are an office cleaner, you are impacting the work environment and the best cleaners will be creating a more productive work environment, which results in more sales for the company!
I go much deeper into the process in this article and you can simply create your own unique value proposition from it.
Step 3 — Provide an Insight To Who You Are
There’s a saying in the recruiting and staffing world:
“You hire people for what they know and you fire them for who they are.”
In today’s world of video interviewing and being able to take a look at your social media profile, companies can get a much better insight into who you are before they progress down the formal hiring route.
But that’s assuming you have got through the first part of the selection process that involves taking a look at your resume.
So how do you make sure you can make the same impact from a single document?
You have to take the standard qualities that everyone uses such as having integrity, being passionate about what you do, being open to learning, having determination, etc.
If you’ve been the captain of your school soccer team, you have a skill in leadership — it’s the same if you headed up a specific project in your last role.
If you have taken your sales team from one cycle of billing and then increased it within a fixed period, you can talk about leadership, being able to coach, being target-driven, and results-oriented.
You must remember that people will put a multitude of words on a resume that interviewers really struggle to believe and that is where you must really get specific and it gets harder when you have to use terms like “integrity,” simply because it is a quality that is hard to prove.
You can, however, take some of the qualities of integrity such as being honest, building trust with others, and being able to admit your own shortcomings and explain them, rather than focussing on the overall term.
You can do this for every quality of course.
I believe that “who you are” is far more important than what you know — I have taught thousands of people over my career and many that were not qualified for the eventual jobs they were doing.
But I could see certain qualities in those people that I just knew would be valuable in the longer term and in many cases, the gamble paid off.
If you are looking for your first job role, then it is even more vital that you spend time talking about who you are and the qualities you possess, because you don’t have any real-world experience.
You really do have to break the rules when thinking about how to write your resume in today’s global economic climate.
We are in an age of hyper-competition and where automation and artificial intelligence (AI) is starting to make a huge impact in the world — plus we are working through a period of consolidation, where larger companies are swallowing up smaller competitors and diversifying across industries.
It’s not that far-fetched to visualize a world run by machines and where machine intelligence will outperform humans, simply because of the sheer processing power they possess and the advances in the computing world…but in my opinion, we are not going to see this anytime soon, despite the technology being present.
And that is because we are still reliant on the one thing that humans do way better than machines — emotion!
We, humans, are an emotional bunch, and we actually thrive on them — so get some emotion into your resume and make sure you convey the human aspect of you to the world…not just your first or your next employer.
Think of yourself as a corporation, when it comes down to articulating the value you can bring to an organization, and remember that whatever role you are performing, you will have an impact on improving revenues, reducing costs, improving efficiency, or hopefully all three.
Finally, remember that you already have the most important job role of your life — you are the CEO of “you” and that is your own uniqueness, as there is only one of you!
Last modified: June 22, 2021