Your Resume is a Necessary Evil
I’ve resisted writing much about resumes for a few reasons:
- Resume advice feels somewhat tactical.
- There are already thousands of articles about resumes.
- There are over 3,000 resume books on Amazon alone.
However, the most important reason that I don’t talk a lot about resumes is that they are not how you will land a great new job. I see too much faith placed in them as the ultimate job seeker’s tool.
Does anyone really believe that a two-page document captures the essence of “you” so well that hiring managers will spring up from their chair and shout, “You’re hired!” after reading one?
I hope not.
Yet, millions of job seekers are blasting their job applications with their resumes into the online void as we speak.
Millions of people are unemployed right now. They are trying to play a numbers game with job application systems. Apply to hundreds of jobs, and maybe one or two will respond?
That’s not the best way to find a great job. It’s certainly not any way to get noticed!
- On average, every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes.
- But only 4 to 6 of these people will be called for an interview.
- Only 1 of those people will be offered a job.
I’ve already talked about the right way to find your next job. That’s not what this story is about.
However, at some point, you will need a resume:
- A recruiter will ask you to send one.
- If you connect with hiring managers directly, they will want to see one.
- When you interview for a job, the team will want to review one before talking with you.
- When you get hired, HR will want a resume to put in your official employment file.
More importantly, if you follow my advice, you will find an inside champion. That person will place your resume directly into the hiring manager’s hands.
When that happens, your resume must be rock solid.
You need to take the time to write it well and customize it appropriately for the opportunity. Otherwise, that hiring manager will be disappointed by what he or she reads.
First, some real-world data
Here are some stats and information that you might find interesting:
- ⏱ Employers (e.g., hiring managers and recruiters) only spend about 7.4 seconds reading the average resume.
- 🤖 Approximately 75% of resumes aren’t viewed by a human since Applicant Tracking Systems scan them.
- 🏢 Big companies like Google receive over 50,000 job applications with resumes per week!
So, what does this tell you?
If your resume isn’t cleanly formatted and focused on essential information, it will get tossed into the recycling bin.
If you don’t take the time to customize your resume to map it to each job listing, it won’t make it through the automated systems to reach a hiring manager.
For many jobs — especially now — you are competing with hundreds or even thousands of other candidates. How can you stand out?
The goal of your resume
As I said, a one-size-fits-all resume that you send in cold to hundreds of job listings is no way to succeed. That’s not the purpose of your resume.
Your resume should:
- Help you structure how you think about your work experience so that it supports the narrative of the story you will tell during your interviews.
- Show that you’ve done your homework, fully understand the job description, and know what the company needs.
- Give your inside champions something for the hiring managers to review when they are ready to give you a call.
Common resume mistakes
Here are a few of the mistakes that I’ve seen with many resumes. In my full resume course, I share more of the avoidable mistakes that people make,
- Generic resume. Employers recognize a one-size-fits-all resume that isn’t customized or tailored for a specific company and role.
- Weak summary. Your summary at the top of the resume should be your elevator pitch. Unfortunately, many people write summaries like an objective or full of vague descriptions of who they are.
- Untruths. Some candidates stretch the facts on their resumes or outright lie about their accomplishments.
- Irrelevant experience. Focus on your work experience and skills that are the most relevant for this position.
- Duties. So many people make this mistake. They list their job duties instead of their accomplishments.
- Misspellings. 58% of employers said resume misspellings were one of the biggest reasons they did not hire employees.
A worthwhile investment
Writing a great resume is a worthwhile investment of your time when it becomes a part of your overall story. The process helps you become very clear about who you are, what you uniquely provide to an employer, your relevant experiences, and how to sell yourself.
You should update your LinkedIn profile with the same information that you include in your resume. Tell the story the same way. Of course, LinkedIn will be more comprehensive than any single customized resume.
You will use components of your resume in your customized cover letters. Synchronize all of your material.
Your elevator pitch, highlighted experiences, and key accomplishments all become part of the story you tell during interviews. All of your messaging should be aligned (online, written, verbal).
“Emphasize your strengths on your resume, in your cover letters and in your interviews. It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people simply list everything they’ve ever done. Convey your passion and link your strengths to measurable results. Employers and interviewers love concrete data.” — Marcus Buckingham
Create a consistent, memorable “Story of You” and why you are the best candidate for the job. Your resume is not the only way — or the best way — to sell you. But, it must be written well and become part of your overall professional brand and positioning.
Take the time to get it right!
Need more resume advice?
I know that this story only scratches the surface of how to write a resume. That’s why I created a course recently to help people write much better ones.
For a limited time, my Medium readers will get the course for 25% off! This offer ends after the first 25 students sign up. So, act fast!
Larry Cornett is a Leadership Coach and Career Advisor. He lives in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with his wife and children, a Great Dane, a rabbit, and a needy cat. He shares advice that helps you become an opportunity magnet for the best things in life! You can also find him on Twitter and Instagram @cornett.