As the co-founder of a professional development and recruiting platform, I’ve been receiving résumés from women nearly non-stop for months now. And these women are amazing. I’m constantly astounded by their accomplishments and dreams.
But I’m also going crazy with the way we present ourselves on paper. Despite the amount of time we’ve dedicated to covering résumé framing that will give you the edge in applying for a job, résumés continue to pile in that pale in comparison to the actual achievements of the women who write them.
It’s time for some friendly feedback.
In the consulting world, the feedback we’re giving out today is lovingly referred to as “the s#*t sandwich.” It begins with a (true) statement affirming the object’s worth. Then it moves to the point of feedback. Finally, the subject aligns his or her interest with the interest of the object and moves the object to error-rectifying action. It goes a little something like this:
“You are a brilliant, smart young woman. Your résumé does not tell me that at all. But I know that you can make it much better – and here’s how.”
These résumés I’m reading need work. Don’t get me wrong – what I am saying is that all of us need to be much better at selling ourselves and be more comfortable with self-promotion. I believe that all of us have truly unique and strong skills, but that in generally we suck at explaining those, especially on paper.
I get it, and I’ve said it and said it: this is hard. It’s especially hard for women, myself included, to speak highly about ourselves. There’s a checklist below, and it should be the final golden standard before you ever send your résumé out to a recruiter. Do not send your resume out without reading, digesting and acting on the following:
1. Don’t use artsy formatting.
I can’t stress how important this is. You might be the most exceptional candidate to ever apply for a company, but if your résumé looks anything less than completely professional you will be thrown away. That means no colour, no weird fonts, no strange borders.
2. Keep it down to one page.
Size is everything. Don’t ever let anyone tell you any different. On a résumé you have very little recruiter-brain-bandwidth allotted to the sheet of page that describes your history, your hopes, and your dreams. Make every single word count.
3. Ditch meaningless blanket statements.
If you don’t tell someone exactly what you’ve accomplished in your lifetime, they will have no idea about any of it. You can’t say you are good at social media. That means absolutely nothing to me. Explain what you did that made that so powerful – did you rack up 500,000 Twitter followers for your company? Think critically about the value you can add to your future employer’s bottom line. You can bet they’ll be thinking about it.
I guarantee you that these are the two most important things to follow for your resume.
Also, always, always save your resume as “LastNameFirstNameResume.”
Best advice in the universe: PDF your résumé. Print it as a PDF. If you send a Word document to a recruiter, you have no control over how it’s going to look when he or she opens it. Here’s a hint: it will probably look awful. We’ve all had horror stories that involve track changes in some way shape or form.
You’ve already shown the world how stellar you are in person. Now go forth and show the world just how stellar you are on paper!