Do you have an hour to spare? Remember that resume that hasn’t seen the light of day since you interviewed for your current job? Pull it out and dust it off. We’re going to make it job-search ready in 60 quick minutes.
Before starting, let’s discuss our goals. A good resume is created to serve only one purpose—to get you in the door for an interview. A resume is never going to get anyone a job. It is a tool for HR departments to use in deciding whom to invite to interview. Nothing more, nothing less.
Management consultant DeAnne Rosenberg, who recently authored A Manager’s Guide to Hiring the Best Person for Every Job, advises job seekers to frame their resumes in terms of the potential employer’s needs.
“HR departments are much more interested in your work history than your potential,” she said.
Think of your resume as a career postmortem.
In an HR department, the primary function of a resume is as a screening tool—screening candidates out. Remember this and keep your resume simple. Extra information can sink your chances at that new job.
Grab a pen and your resume and find a location where you won’t be disturbed. We’ll take it from the top. Spend your first minute making any necessary changes to your contactinformation.
Tip: Be sure you list telephone numbers on your resume where you can readily accept calls during work hours. You may want to get a pager with voice mail for instant notification of calls that you can return at a convenient time.
Next, tackle the objective. Spend five minutes brainstorming, but be sure that your end result is very clear and not wordy or flowery.
- Good objective: Corporate trainer in a large Internet or technology-centered company.
- Weak objective: An upwardly mobile position which utilizes my experience in giving dynamic educational presentations and my excellent interpersonal skills.
Tip: Don’t make the screener work to learn what you want to do.
Now, the professionalsummary. This four- to seven-line paragraph should use bullet points, and is your opportunity to shine.
“Use this area to overview your strongest qualifications. Give an overview of the breadth, depth, and width of your experience,” said Rosenberg.
Spend 15 minutes crafting this important area of your resume. Brainstorm for 10, then spend five minutes refining. Some good examples:
- Good summary item: Five years experience training, including performing training sessions for new and existing employees.
- Good summary item: Develop written and multimedia training materials, including new employee orientation and MS Office training.
Tip: A professional summary covers your whole career. So, feel free to draw upon and summarize experiences from any work experience.
Next, we move on to the body of the resume, the workhistory. This meat and potatoes course needs to have some very specific ingredients.
“HR people are looking for related job titles and continuity of dates,” said Rosenberg.
So, be sure that each entry clearly indicates your job title, employer, and dates of employment. Job descriptions should be clear and powerful. Spend 10 minutes writing down everything you do and have accomplished at your current job. Just write everything that comes to mind, without regard to wording or format. Spend these 10 minutes generating ideas.
Spend the next 10 minutes rewording, getting these ideas into strong sound bites. Use a thesaurus to find superlative word choices. Use bullet points, and be sure to begin each with a vivid action word. Remember, your resume will first be viewed by hiring personnel who may have little specific technical knowledge, so write generally. Use terms the general public will understand, and avoid jargon.
Be ruthless. Cut all words that don’t appreciably improve your job description. Research shows that a resume typically gets less than a minute’s attention from screeners. You don’t have long to get to the point.
Once you have your bullet points ready, order them like this:
- Most important item
- Second most important/impressive item
- Everything else (in the middle)
- Third most important item
The following phrases are examples of good job descriptions:
- Develop and deliver training material to new and existing company personnel.
- Train and develop courses on object-oriented programming tools (Java, C++).
- Coordinate off-site training, including securing space, hiring instructors, obtaining training materials, and all travel and lodging arrangements.
- Create cost analysis matrix on e-Learning and classroom training for use in training purchasing decisions.
- Perform ROI analysis on new e-Learning initiative.
Tip: Avoid boring, say-nothing terms, such as: responsibilities included, responsible for, managed. Never use any form of “to be.” Describe what you do, not who you are, and make every word count.
Now that you’ve got the hang of perfecting job descriptions, spend 10 minutes looking at your earlier job descriptions. Be sure your bullet points are descriptive and powerful. You want your resume to be strong and interesting. Eliminate all unnecessary and ineffective words.
Take a five-minute look at education. Be sure degrees and institutions are listed, as well as any professional training completed. Leave dates out on formal education, so you can’t be labeled “too old” or “too young” from the outset. Include honors and awards.
Organizations, hobbies, volunteer activities, and references are generally superfluous. Include them if you wish, but avoid reference to anything of a religious, ethnic, political, or controversial nature. “References available upon request” is found at the bottom of most resumes. Include it if you have room; if not, don’t worry. Whether it’s on your resume or not, HR will expect you to provide references before an offer is extended. Okay, time’s up!
Even in today’s Internet-driven world, resumes still play an integral part in job search.
“A resume is your only way in the door of a company, headhunter, or agency,” Rosenberg said.
Spend an hour on yours. The return on the investment of your time will pleasantly surprise you.
If you’re in a managerial position and have to hire trainers, what do you look for? Certain experiences, a certain amount of time spent in the classroom, good evaluations? Send us your tips for doing a successful screen of IT trainer resumes, or post a comment.