There are clear differences between a good résumé and a great résumé.
A good résumé is a glorified application explaining to the hiring manager the following information in this order: Dates of employment, companies, and titles held and job functions. It concludes with when and where you received your education. It is good because the hiring manager can get a clear summation of your past experience and education.
While a great résumé is a marketing brochure highlighting the scope and depth of your experience; it describes the expertise you have developed through your career. It communicates a compelling reason for the prospective to need and want your services.
How to create a Great Résumé?
Once you have adopted a future-focused orientation, you are ready to create your résumé. The presentation of your information, the layout, and the language you use to communicate value are extremely important.
There are only two things you can be sure a hiring manger will do when reviewing your résumé:
|1.||They will start at the top and read the lines from left to right.|
|2.||Their first impression they will have has the greatest impact and will influence how they perceive you.|
Therefore, it is essential that most relevant, important information be presented at the top along the left side of your résumé. The least important information should be at the bottom and along the right side.
In order to transform your résumé from a good résumé to a great résumé, concentrate on using your layout and language most effectively.
The main heading is where you provide contact information for the hiring managers. Your main heading lets them know who you are and where you can be reached. This section should be designed like a professional letterhead. Résumés are formal documents, so you should not use abbreviations here.
Use the same heading on your references page, cover letters, and thank-you letters. By creating a professional-looking letterhead, you offer a consistent image to the hiring manager. It also allows the hiring manager to quickly access your contact information on every document.
Section headings are titles you assign to different areas of your résumé. They are extremely important, and influence how the hiring manager perceives the information within the heading.
If your first section is a summary of qualifications, your section heading communicates the value you offer the hiring manager. You focus the reader on the ways you will meet the company’s needs, thus saying to the hiring manager you are indeed “qualified” for the position.
A summary of qualifications should be confined to three high-impact statements.
|The first statement should highlight your years of experience in the profession and industry.|
|The second statement should identify the areas of expertise you want to emphasize.|
|The third statement should identify personal attributes that are important to the role and company.|
While “Summary of Qualifications” is the best section heading to begin your résumé, there are several exceptions to the rule. If you fall into one of these exceptions, then you need to consider beginning your résumé with an objective statement.
Exception 1: Clarity. If you are making a transition by applying for a position that diverges from your past experience, an objective statement is needed, since your skills are not an obvious or solid match for the position. Use the objective statement to clarify your interest in the position and show that your skills are transferable.
Exception 2: Intent. If you do not use a cover letter to introduce your purpose in sending the résumé, an objective statement is appropriate. The objective statement communicates the purpose of your résumé. In this circumstance, the objective should be very direct and specific to the prospective company and position.
Additional section headings that are useful in constructing a résumé that communicates value to a hiring manager include:
Areas of Expertise
These sections follow your summary of qualifications. They emphasize specific strengths you have developed throughout your career. These sections provide an opportunity to bring a special attention to experiences that are most relevant to the hiring manager, regardless of when and where they occurred.
Be careful not to give too much information in this section. The same holds true for accomplishments and achievements. Focus the hiring manager’s attention on your most important accomplishments by creating three strong statements.
Select a high-impact section heading for your employment section. Do not use “Employment History” or “Work Experience”. These headings are vague and generic; instead, create a compelling section heading that optimizes your experience.
There are differing opinions regarding the appropriate length of a résumé. The general rule regarding résumé length is:
One page for less than 10 years of professional experience
Two pages for more than 10 years professional experience
However, this rule can vary depending on your circumstances. More is not better in résumé writing. Your objective is to keep the hiring manager’s attention focused on your skills that add immediate value to the company. If you describe every experience and function of your entire career, you risk diverting the focus away from parts of your résumé that are most important.
Additionally, if you put every single experience on your résumé, you have to be prepared to discuss every single experience in the interview. As a result, your interview will be more difficult to prepare for and you run the risk of being asked about experiences that are not relevant to the position. You may be perceived as “not a good fit” because, based on your résumé, the hiring manager asked about the wrong skill, rather than what was needed for that particular position.
Transform your résumé from a description of job functions to a series of accomplishment statements that are of interest to the hiring manager.
To do this, read your job function statements and ask yourself:
What was the purpose of this responsibility/project/task?
How was this job function relevant to the company?
Did this function save time, save money, increase revenue, improve a process/policy/infrastructure?
The answers to these questions are typically the most important elements of the résumé to the hiring manager and need to be communicated clearly.