For many people, it isn't a lack of experience, education or training that is keeping them from getting a call back — or these days, an e-mail back. Instead, it often comes down to how you're presenting yourself via your resume.
As Co-Founder of HireArt, I see hundreds of resumes a day. The biggest mistake I see is people overstuffing their resumes, trying to cram every single activity, skill or job they have ever had onto one page instead of focusing on creating a coherent story. Just recently I was reviewing a 12-page resume that started out with the following:
"My skills include marketing, social media, project management, accounting, tax law, labor law, financial management, sales strategy, 6 Sigma, operational effectiveness, ad operations and software sales. I've also published two novels and took a few months off to write a poetry book last spring."
While it might seem tempting to list every skill you have ever acquired, there are actually a few profound disadvantages to this approach.
If you write out a long list of skills, an employer likely won't recall any of them. It's simply impossible to form a mental image if you present yourself as a lawyer, marketer and venture capitalist all in one. Which is it? Pick the one that is most important to you and emphasize it throughout your resume.
I recently interviewed a candidate for a sales position. Within the first three minutes of the conversation he said, "I live and breathe sales. I love everything about selling." He spent the next 15 minutes telling me about his different sales roles and why he had excelled at them. As a hiring manager, this really appealed to me — he had a neat narrative that made me believe that he'd excel at the sales job I was hiring for. I later learned that he'd actually done a lot of things other than sales in his life, but he hadn't focused on those things initially. His resume was sparse and though he didn't skip his other roles, they just weren't emphasized. The moral of the story is this: Why do I need to know you're a great tax accountant if I'm hiring a sales person? It dilutes your narrative and makes me nervous about the sincerity of your passion for sales.
There is a lot of advice about resumes out there. If you're applying for a job at a technology company or corporation, it's very clear: employers really dislike long resumes. From Facebook to General Assembly down to tiny start-ups, not a single company would want you to submit a long resume. Being succinct is among the most important skills for a job applicant.
The most underused trick of the trade is simply to show the employer why you're good instead of writing an endless resume. One candidate I worked with created a product management portfolio with wireframes and product ideas for each company he was truly interested in. Another candidate, who ultimately got hired, helped the VP of Business Development get a meeting at Stanford Hospital before she was even hired. Seeing someone do excellent work is worth 1000x more than seeing a 12-page resume claiming excellence with no proof.
Remember that guy you went on a date with who couldn't stop telling you how good he was at everything? You probably only went on one date with him. Being "good at everything" seems like a lie (even if it's true!) and it's unattractive. Don't forget that landing a job is not that different from landing a date. You want to say just enough to get the hiring manager interested, but not so much that they become overwhelmed.
Before you apply for your next job ask yourself: who am I? Or rather, who am I in the context of this job application? Tailor your resume to tell a story that is so compelling that they'll want to meet you to hear more.
When you haven’t updated your resume in a while, it can be hard to know where to start. What experiences and accomplishments should you include for the jobs you’ve got your eye on? What new resume rules and trends should you be following? And seriously, one page or two?
6 years, 9 months ago
Cover letters don’t get a lot of love. And considering how tough it is to write a good one, it’s kind of understandable that people tend to throw them together at the last minute (or update one they wrote last month), attach it to their resume, and call it good.
6 years, 9 months ago
There’s a lot of resume advice out there—and some of it conflicting. Which makes it pretty hard for you, the job seeker, to know what to do. Should you stick to the one-page format, or is it OK to veer onto the second page? Will a creative resume catch the eye of a hiring manager, or do most people still prefer the tried-and-true traditional layout?
7 years, 5 months ago