Editor’s note: Is your candidate great in person, but the resume needs work? In this article, professional coach and resume adviser Debra Wheatman speaks directly to your candidates with the kind of direct, no-nonsense advice that they can use to turn their resume into a powerful selling tool. Email this post or a link to all your candidates.
Is your resume written with the reader in mind? Or, does your resume scream, “It’s all about me and what I want!”?
When you accept a job, you are entering an agreement with a company that you will meet their expectations and they will compensate you. Until that job offer is made, your task is to create a compelling case for how you can fill their needs better than any other candidate. So, why would you make a first impression (your resume) with a focus on YOUR needs, YOUR preferences, and in a format that suits YOU? It’s a very common mistake made by candidates, recruiters, and even college career counselors. When you develop your resume with your audience in mind, the audience can easily absorb key data and identify how you fill their needs.
Replace your objective with a headline.
Discard this old-fashioned statement, “Seeking a challenging position with a large Bay-area hospital as a surgical nurse.” Replace it with this reader-focused statement:
“Surgical RN with comprehensive clinical experience in hospital and surgery center settings.”
Use a standard resume format.
Your resume should be formatted so that it is easy for the reader to quickly find the information they need to advance you to an interview or eliminate you from the running. If your resume is not logically arranged, the reader may become frustrated and eliminate you before you have a chance. These are common categories you may use to structure your resume: profile summary, core competencies, highlights of achievements, professional experience, education, certifications, publications, and computer skills. The categories will be based on your skills and experience. In any case, start with a profile summary to put the resume into context for the reader.
Be selective when showing your professional experience.
In a few seconds, the reader wants to see the following:
- Job title, employer name, dates of employment
- Scope of responsibility (# of direct reports, budget size, key clients, territory, # of facilities, etc.)
- Top three to six accomplishments, including measured results. Show no more than seven.
Include dates for each position.
It can be frustrating for a recruiter or hiring manager to have a resume with no dates. It is not necessary to show months, but you do need to show starting and ending year for each job on your resume. It is not necessary to show your date of graduation.
Omit the personal details on a U.S. resume.
Personal information, such as marital status, hobbies, sports, pets, political affiliation, and religious belief should be omitted from your resume. It is irrelevant and unprofessional to include this information. It can actually cause an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to boot your resume from the running for a position due to your inclusion of data regarding your religion, gender, or sexual orientation. The only exception is to include political or religious experience if you are applying to a position in the field of politics or religion.
The bottom line is that your resume is a document with a very specific purpose: to show your qualifications for a job. When crafting your resume, take care to gather, select, arrange, and edit this information so that it proves the case for your employment in an easy-to-read, organized format.