In the quest for attention, to provoke discussion or maybe because he or she hopes it’s the case, every now and again some innocuous troll will declare, “The resume is dead!!” Well yes, the old-fashioned, boring and bland version that itemized your professional past indeed has been bumped off. However, the resume that tells your story, accentuates your value and highlights your personal brand is alive and kicking open the doors of opportunity.
Long gone are the days of the traditional, 12-point, serif-fonted, duty-driven confessionaries that featured generic, me-centric Objectives Statements; painful minutia about past employers; less than stellar GPAs; and contact information for three pre-ordained references. Thankfully, the dawn of a new resume day has arrived, and it’s about to be your new best friend.
Here are the 10 new rules you need to know for a cutting-edge resume that will help you stand out from the hoards of fellow applicants, showcase your specific strengths, and land a lot more interviews so you can snag the job you really want. And it will help you thrive.
Rule 1: Your Resume Needs To Be Your BFF.
Today’s resume is your best friend forever because it likes you a lot! That means it doesn’t talk about anything that showcases or even hints at your shortcomings. Instead, it’s a powerful marketing tool that explains why YOU are THE perfect person for the job of your dreams. Or at least the job you are applying for at that moment. The resume for the job you apply for a half hour later might look a little different.
Rule 2: Know Your Audience.
If you are in a creative and edgy field such as public relations, arts management or fashion, your resume needs to look clean and modern with plenty of white space, an eye-catching but not gimmicky design, and with an accent of color, and a few tasteful social media icons or other graphics. If you’re an accountant or academic, the more standard look is probably still the more palatable. Do your research so you understand the culture of the field and of the specific workplace before your finalize and submit your resume.
Rule 3: You Must Tailor It, Always.
As I hinted in Rule 1, you can and must tailor each resume to the specific opportunity. That doesn’t mean every section is a do-over, but it does mean you can control exactly which information, skills, strengths and accomplishments you most want to highlight for the precise skills, values and experience sought in the actual description of the position for which you’re applying. Align away.
Rule 4: Liven Up Your Contact Information.
In this section include your name, cell, professional-sounding email address, LinkedIn profile link, and any other pertinent social media links and your personal website, if you have one. Make the email and links live. Include your city and state if you like; no street address please; stalkers and identity thieves took the fun out of that.
Rule 5: Power Up Your Personal Statement.
Say a terse goodbye to the “To gain a job in my field” Objective Statement and say a warm hello to the Personal (Branding) Statement. This is a power-packed sentence or two that conveys your particular value, strengths and personal brand. To help you write this, pretend a hiring manager has only what you write here to go by — what specific strengths, skills, personal values and value to the organization will you bring that are unique to you? Be sure you review this statement for each job you apply to, and tweak as needed.
Rule 6: Call Out Your Strengths.
Feature your top 8-12 skills that best match the position to which you are applying (and which you generally enjoy doing). If it makes sense to organize them in categories such as Leadership Skills, Soft Skills, Software Skills, etc., then do so. You’ll seem some people include that lovely self-rating skills bar chart; why proactively admit you’re not amazing at something?
Rule 7: Make Your Experience Relatable.
Your Experience section should highlight relevant jobs (and internships if you’re a college student or recent grad), your title, and your key measurable, accomplishments at each. If a position doesn’t seem pertinent to the job you are applying for, look at the transferable skills you were able to develop that may be incredibly useful to your desired line of work. Your potential new bosses want to see how what you have done in the past will help you help them now and into the future.
Rule 8: Place Your Education Strategically.
Unless your academic experience was extraordinary and very fresh, for most fields* this section need not be near the top of your resume as it has been in the past. You no doubt studied your butt off for at least four years, but this info can wait until we hear about your strengths, and perhaps even before your relevant experience. Do not list your GPA unless it is outstanding. Do not list your graduation years unless really recent, if at all. *If you know that success in your line of work is heavily dependent on certain all cap letters proudly trailing your name, you may wish to keep this info near the top.
Rule 9: Showcase Your Awards/Publications/Civic Engagement.
Here’s a section where you really can be creative in terms of title, structure and content. Depending on what fits you best, this is sort of a catch-all for any awards, publications, civic engagement or clubs with which you are involved. If there are a lot of each, break them into the appropriate categories. For organizations and clubs, absolutely include your contributions and accomplishments so it doesn’t seem like you just sat in meetings like a lump.
Rule 10. Keep It Reel Real.
Always remember to tell the truth, never exaggerate, and check and recheck spelling, spacing, grammar, consistency and punctuation until you no longer can see straight (or better yet, have a skilled proofreader do that for you!).
The bottom line is that your resume should serve as a marketing tool, calling out your special talents, experiences and qualities and highlighting what’s so very special about you and why you are the person this organization needs to add value and solve their problems.
Today’s resume has new rules, and by making them work to your very best advantage, they will help you thrive. You’re in charge, and you’re about to shine.
For more tips or assistance creating your new, very much alive, vibrant and powerful resume, visit my coaching site, coachthrive.us.