How To Write The Perfect Resume To Get Any Job
Friends and colleagues ask me to review their resumes. Some ask for meetings to pick my brain and ask “how can I write the perfect resume for this job?”.
This is a bad question. It is completely backwards.
There isn’t a perfect resume.
Your work experience is unique, there are candidates who follow a similar career path. But your experience is unique. Companies and interviewers value experience and skills differently. You will go mad trying to please everyone.
(the companies who struggle to recruit are those who try to fit each employee to one mold)
As a technical recruiter I have listened to a hiring manager describe how horrible a resume was and he would not consider interviewing the candidate.
When the same resume was sent to a different team (at the same company) the hiring manager spent a great deal of time talking about how great the candidate was based on their resume. The candidate was later interviewed and hired.
I don’t know what company you are interested in. Or if your resume stinks. But if I were in your shoes this is what I would do.
1. Find What Your Ideal Employer Looks For
It’s not a difficult task. It requires effort on your part (most people won’t do the work).
To find this information you can:
- Interview people that work there over coffee (ask them to share their story)
- Talk to recruiters who work / have worked for the company (be sure they have experience working with the kind of role you are interested in)
- Meet directors and managers at the company (some might meet for coffee, most will probably be met through an organization they are a member of)
- Use LinkedIn to find people that currently or previously held the same role/title at the company you are interested in. (notice how they describe their experience prior to and after working there).
2. How To Use This Information
Your experiences may be different than what you have found. Go back over your resume and use this information as a guide, recreate your resume and model a few of the strong profiles you have found.
You’re not fitting a mold or copying and pasting. This is a style you are trying to model.
I hear people say “I’m not good at writing” or “I don’t know how to describe the work that I have done”.
Here are two exercises to help you.
A. Record Yourself
Step away from your resume. Take out your phone, turn on the voice recorder. Describe the day-to-day functions of your role, the critical things you are responsible for, and key missions you have completed.
Once you’re finished take this raw audio and transcribe it word for word. You will need to edit it a few times. This is one of the best ways I have found to describe your work.
B. What would you look for in your resume?
Take 10 minutes and step into your boss’s shoes. Think from their point of view. If you were building a team and hiring for your skill set what would you look for in a candidate’s resume?
Take notes of what you would look for. Now look back at your resume, make sure this information can easily be found in your resume.
3. Beyond The Perfect Resume
While it is true a poorly written resume can limit you.
There are other factors that are more harmful than your resume.
- being passive in your job search
- focusing on the competition
- relying on your resume to do all of the work for you
- a poor performance during a phone or face-to-face interview
Rather than address your weak points …. it’s easier to point the finger at your resume.
You have to be honest with yourself and commit to improving the areas that are limiting you. You can change your mindset and your effort.
Everyone can improve by 1%.
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RE: Section 1.(Find What Your Ideal Employer Looks For)
What I really meant is…
Have conversations with people face to face.
From these conversations build relationships.
Have relationships that are not all about you.
Give more value than anyone else (free or paid).
This is not BS.
The perfect resume is a scam.
There are countless examples where a candidate looks great on paper and performs terribly in interviews. You have to win at both.
Ultimately people hire other people. Your resume is just a personal advertisement. If your ad isn’t working or isn’t being viewed, you have to do the manual work to ensure you are seen.
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A few other things you might need along the way.
4. How To Ask For Feedback
“What do you think about my resume?” is also a bad question to ask a recruiter or hiring manager.
If you are going to have someone review your resume, it should be someone who can hire you in that company or industry. Not a random peer or recruiter from another industry.
All opinions are not equal.
Instead, ask for specific feedback. “Is my summary boring?” “Do I go into to much detail describing my work at XYZ company?”
Take note of their feedback and comments. Use what makes sense for you and ignore the rest.
5. Non-Negotiables On Your Resume
- Resume plagiarism
- Poor grammar
- Too little information
- Too wordy (buzzword overload)
With two degrees and two years of work experience, my resume was a joke. I didn’t know it, so I kept putting it out there like it was made of gold. I was upset when I didn’t hear back from companies and depressed when the company I was interested in wasn’t interested in me.
I didn’t quit, I figured out how to connect with people and how to be seen.
I don’t know if these techniques will work for you, you must try them for yourself.
About the Author:
Clinton Buelter is the founder of ColdEmailForRecruiters. He’s a tech recruiter turned entrepreneur. With more than six years of recruiting experience, starting at a staffing agency and working his way into technical recruitment for software companies like VMware and Glassdoor.