Your resume is one of the professional documents that’s seldom used, but very important. That’s why it’s vital that you don’t haphazardly put together a resume just when you need it. You need to proactively manage it.
Resume Facts You Need to Know
Your resume is not an autobiography. This means you don’t need to include everything about you nor should it tell a story. It doesn’t need to list your hobbies.
Resumes are often accompanied by a cover letter and/or an application. The application is usually completed using a system like a form on the company’s website, or creating and completing an account at Indeed or Monster.
Remember this well.
If you keep applying to jobs and you don’t proceed to the next step, the reason is that your resume sucks. It’s not because of you as a person. It not because you don’t have the skills nor the experience to do it properly. And it certainly isn’t because the interviewer isn’t giving you a chance. The reason is your resume doesn’t give the interviewer any reason to proceed with your application. Plain and simple.
Remember, at this point of the interviewing process, the hiring company (or recruiter) has only seen your resume. If your resume doesn’t communicate that you can do the job and do it well, you will get disqualified.
3 Essential Parts of an Effective Resume
So if a resume is used to decide whether you move to the next stage or not, what do you put in it to make sure you progress in your application?
There are three main parts you need to include.
The admin section lists the basic info the hiring company needs to know about you:
- Contact number—whether that’s a mobile or home phone
- Email address—the one that you open and check frequently
You don’t need to include every way to contact you.
No need to include your WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other accounts you may have.
Because if they really need it, they will ask you for it.
Remember that you are currently in the resume screening stage where recruiters scan through the applications quickly and make a decision to put them on the shortlist pile or the trash pile. There’s no analysis or background checking done at this point.
So all other information you add is unnecessary. It eats up space for what really matters—the next two sections. This is what interviewers are really looking for.
The experience section answers the question “can you do the job?” This is one of the two questions every company is asking throughout the interview process.
Most professionals got this down properly. Most online resources about this section is accurate.
At its core, this section is all about your past work experiences. If you don’t have one, this will be your extra-curricular activities or volunteer work.
Remember, hiring companies are looking for whether you can do the job. This doesn’t mean you only include similar jobs you’ve held in the past. What matters are skills.
This means when looking at job posts, you look at the job description, particularly the responsibilities section. That’s what you focus on instead of the title.
For example, you saw a job post for a managerial position. You’ve never had a managerial or supervisory job role in the past. This doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t apply because you think you don’t have the experience. What matters is the skills required to be a manager. Some of these would be planning, assigning tasks, juggling projects and different people.
If you did this in your current (or previous) roles, then you have experience managing other people already. If you were in-charge of supervising interns, you use that. If you led an adhoc team from multiple departments to work on a software migration project, use that.
All those examples above demonstrate that you have experience managing other people despite not having an official “manager” in your job title.
Now, add the next section and you’ll be several steps ahead of your competition.
This is the heart of effective resumes. Accomplishments or results are what will separate you from all other professionals. This is one of the fundamentals you need to learn as a professional.
Accomplishments, or results, are worthwhile contributions you made for the company. Not for you.
That is why you won’t find anywhere in this article about listing your skills in PhotoShop, After Effects, Microsoft products, and other software or techniques. Because all those fluff are about you.
Hiring companies don’t care about it at all.
What they care about is how you—with all those skills—helped your current/previous companies.
That’s why the accomplishments section is the heart of effective resumes.
Some guidelines for writing effective accomplishments:
- Start with a past tense verb—improved, reduced, increased, etc.
- Include numbers or percentages—$50k or 10%
- Use the what-how method—this answers the question “can you do the job well” directly
You accomplishments will need to be tailored according to the role you’re applying for. It will also be different for everyone. Here are a few examples:
- Increased customer retention by 10% YoY by implementing quarterly check-ins and customer reviews
- Generated over 700+ new leads with $2k budget for Facebook Ads using the Pincer Method
- Grew website traffic from 10k to 35k/mo by publishing frequently and applying SEO best practices
- Grew social media following by 70% by designing graphics using Canva and writing captions for over 500 posts
- Ran Facebook contest generating 2,000+ shares and 8,000 comments resulting to 20% increase in revenue
As you can see, those skills are all baked in the accomplishments. Knowing how to use them isn’t the end goal. It has to deliver something valuable for the company. That’s why you include it in the how section of the what-why method.
Sample Resume Analysis
Take a look at this resume I found online below. It boasts of great templates that you pick and fill-in the blanks. It has both good and bad qualities.
First, the bad parts you should not follow:
- Listing of skills with the accompanying bar graph. Waste of space and useless in the eyes of the interviewer. These are very subjective so it doesn’t help the interviewer at all.
- Social media links. These are irrelevant. The link to Stack Overflow is okay since this is directly related to the profession.
- Objective/summary. Same with others, this is a waste of space. All those lines and info can be included in the experience and accomplishments section.
- Awards, conferences, and additional activities. Doesn’t mean anything to the hiring company.
Now, the good parts:
- It has all the basic sections
- Includes real accomplishments that matter to the hiring company like the improvement in UX scores and reducing costs
- Puts history in reverse chronological order—this makes it intuitive and shows growth.
Things to improve:
- Separate the experience and accomplishments section to make it easier to read and understand
- Remove the extra stuff that doesn’t matter like the skills and awards, etc.
One of the most mistakes professionals make on their resumes is the focus on their experience. They try to add as much fluff to make them look good on paper instead of putting down accomplishments.
You might argue, “well, the interviewer should invite me and ask me about my accomplishments in the interview.”
If that’s how you think, you’re already one step behind other professionals who list their accomplishments on their resume.
Think about it.
If you are the hiring manager, you see hundreds of resumes and trying to get through it all on top of your regular job, will you invite everyone to “give them a chance to interview?”
The answer is no. You have limited time, energy, and resources. That’s why at every stage, you disqualify applicants. This is exactly what’s happening.
If you put together a resume with that lists all accomplishments vs another who only lists down activities, the one with the accomplishments will move forward while the other gets disqualified.
The same goes for activities. For most jobs, listing down accomplishments is more difficult than those in sales or marketing. Accounting or purchasing, for example, doesn’t have sales targets or leads you need to get.
This is probably the biggest reason why most online resources on resumes don’t mention anything about the necessity of accomplishments.
Say you’re responsible for purchasing office equipment and supplies, and manage the relationship with vendors. Some of your accomplishments can be:
- Saved $40k in office supplies by maintaining great relationships with vendors
- Maintained 100% on-stock supplies by implementing reorder points and following inventory management practices
This may sound like a broken record, but the key to writing accomplishments is to focus on what matters to the organization.
At the end of the day, your resume has one true purpose—help you move to the next step of the interview process. If it doesn’t do that, there’s something wrong with it. Stop blaming the company, the economy, or the hundred other excuses.
Your resume needs to have the three basic sections with the experience and accomplishments taking up the most space. Stop including activities and all other fluff that no one cares about except you.
Apply these changes and you’ll see improvements in your application process. Of course, there’ll be more challenges once you get to next step.
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