I have many people who come to me to ask me questions about their resumes and how to make them better. From this, I’ve especially noticed that most people have a lot of ideas about resumes that I usually have to debunk before we can actually get to the real work of improving it. Here, for your benefit, are the five main truths about resumes that I tell my clients. As with everything I (or anyone else) says, your mileage may vary. It’s only right if it’s true for you.
- A Resume is More An Art Than a Science: There is no one right way to write a resume. It’s the opportunity for a document to speak for you when you’re not there to talk for yourself. If you have someone who says that a resume can only be a certain way (e.g. must have all bullets, must be in Times New Roman 12 point, etc.), don’t believe it. Take the information and see if it works for you.
- A Resume Is Not About You: A resume is about the person reading it and what they need to know about you in order to make a good decision about talking with you further. There’s no one right way to word your resume, but think about who the audience is. Write in the way they write.
- A Resume Is An Advertisement for You, Not a Short Story: No matter how well the resume is written, you will never be able to relate your entire life in a resume. Don’t try. It’s job is to just get them interested enough in you to want to bring you in. Tell me enough to get me interested (Note: most people’s resumes are boring and not interesting), but don’t overwhelm me with details.
- A Resume Shouldn’t Be Like a Buffet: Don’t throw everything you have at me and force me to figure out how you can help me. Know what’s important to me and just give me that. Think about it more like a plated dinner. You’re being served just what you need, but let them know there’s more in the kitchen if needed.
- A Resume Is a Better Confirmation of Who You Are Than a Calling Card: Most people lead with their resumes (sending them into posted jobs and hoping they get called). No matter how well your resume is written, you are more persuasive and can speak to your value. It’s best if people hear about you and your resume confirms that you are all that.
So, How does your resume represent you?