Michelle's worked in the hiring industry for 8 years and edited resumes for people who have gone on to do great things in the world.
How Is Making a Resume Like Going on a First Date?
Whether you’re a nomad or a homebody, you have one little thing that stands in your way: the resume. It stares at you, taunting you to try and make it look better with your recent accomplishments at work. How do you convince the reader that you're qualified for the job? What do you share? Well, while you may have been able to finish the 2X Spicy Nuclear Ramen Challenge (it’s pretty intense), your future employer probably won’t count it as a huge milestone for their company.
How do you make your resume the best it can be without coming across as narcissistic or disillusioned about your abilities? Here's the answer: Treat it like a first date. Are you intrigued? Make sure to go through this checklist to help you see why this is the way it is, and humble brag as you go!
1. Prevent Mishaps Before You Meet
Avoid silly mistakes like the plague. This one should be easy, but it’s too easy for your eyes to glaze over small mistakes when you’ve re-read your resume for the gazillionth time. What should you look out for?
- Grammatical issues
- Consistent tense
This especially applies if you’re going to be working in an industry that values sharp attention to detail, so try to go through each line with a fine-toothed comb (or rather, eye). If you literally can’t do it one more time without screaming, ask a friend to read it and see what they might find. Try reading it out loud. If it sounds weird, it will come across that way when your potential interviewer’s reading it.
It's like critiquing your outfit or checking your teeth before a first date to make sure you make the best possible first impression possible. After all, you only get one!
2. Don't Be (Too) Shy
Don’t be shy about what you’ve done. If you write as if you never did anything of substance at previous jobs or activities, it’s easy for people to think you really didn't. Provide them specific percentages or statistics of what you changed for the better.
Here's an example:
- Before: “improved sales with social media marketing.”
- After: “increased sales by 32% in 3 months while lowering marketing costs by $2,000.”
Do you see how the accomplishments are specific and jazzed up? Doesn’t the after sound so much more engaging? Treat it like a first date. If someone’s asking you how you’ve been doing, saying, “I’m doing okay” answers the question, but it doesn’t help move the conversation along or stir up interest in you. It’s easy for you to look like every other person out there. If you provide specifics, it lets the reader respond to what you’ve said, delve into who you are, and see what makes you so great.
3. Don't Be Mindless
Don’t write mindlessly. Playing off that first-date scenario, remember to focus on the person in front of you, or in this case, the company that you’re interested in. Think about the end goal: providing information a specific company has in mind and is looking for. Examine the details of the job posting and show how you qualify. If you’re talking to someone and don’t listen to what they want, it only goes to cement the fact that you’re not right for them.
4. Share Accomplishments, Not Every Detail
Share accomplishments, not a to-do list. When a blank page is staring at you, it's tempting to write everything that you’ve ever done to fill up the page and make it look like you’ve done oh-so-many things. Don't do it! You end up coming across as vague (a no-no) and mindless (another no-no).
- Now, it could help to write everything you’ve done in a certain position you’ve held before—but only as a mind map to see what ideas you can flesh out. Otherwise, focus on the good stuff, not things that people would start yawning at because—hey, anyone can do what you just said.
5. Look Nice
Design the resume to have a simple but unique design. Of course, tastes differ from person to person, and the same can be said for different companies in various industries. I’ve found that making my resume look attractive and fun helped me immensely in the creative field. I work as a content creator and social media marketer, so I think you can see why making my work stand out only helps. If you’re going to apply to a very corporate position, scope it out to see what the vibe or culture is like. Then, tailor your resume to match it. At the very least, make sure everything is aligned correctly and looks consistent.
6. Get Your Facts Straight
Make sure everything on the resume is correct. Check and double check everything! Yes, you want to share what you’ve been up to. However, don't lie and say you have all the ninja skills when you just started Krav Maga three days ago. See what I mean? It’s easy for interviewers to spot, so you’ll likely end up leaving a bad taste in their mouth. It’s a small world out there, so I really don’t recommend doing this. Tell the truth!
7. Check the Details
Check every link you share. If you have contact information on the page, make sure they work and you can be reached. If you have projects that you’ve done that are available to view online, make sure the links work. A lot of videos I’ve seen are broken, private, unavailable, or simply the wrong link. Make sure everything that can be clicked on is accurate.
If you show up with a huge piece of lettuce stuck between your teeth or a smudge of lipstick on your cheek, it makes it difficult for anyone to focus on what you're saying. Make it easy for the both of you and check the little details!
8. Don't Overshare
This is similar to sharing fluff, but it goes one step further. Don’t share irrelevant information that will make an interviewer wonder why you applied in the first place. Also, make sure not to add any confidential information that shouldn’t be shared. You might want to write that you worked with an important so-and-so for their marketing campaign, but if it’s a violation of a confidential agreement, you’ll be dropped from consideration like a literal hot potato.
9. Watch Your Words
Make your resume fun to read! Don’t just use words that come into your head from everyday use. Try looking up certain words in a thesaurus so you don’t overuse words such as the following: made, did, worked, increased, or helped. Wouldn’t that make any person bored? Use language that makes everything exciting, efficient, and true. Be honest! Also, try reading the resume through after you do this to make sure it doesn’t sound pretentious or like you just finished studying for the SATs.
10. Keep It Simple
Keep it simple. Keep it concise. One page should be sufficient to cover what you’ve done that is relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Wrapping It Up: What to Consider in a Resume
- Avoid Silly Mistakes: Look for typos and grammatical issues while keeping the tense consistent.
- Don't Be Vague: Give specific percentages/statistics of what you did.
- Don't Write Mindlessly: Focus on the company you're interested in and think about your end goal. Match the details of the job posting.
- Share Accomplishments: Don't share a to-do list.
- Design It: Create a simple but unique design. This also depends on the field you're in.
- Fact Check: Make sure everything on the resume is correct.
- Verify the Details: Check every link you share (ex. YouTube videos, portfolio, etc).
- Oversharing: Don't do it.
- Word Choice: Make it exciting, efficient, and true. Be honest!
- Keep It Simple: One page should be sufficient. They'll learn more in the interview!
Enjoy the process and go for your dreams!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Babloo on January 05, 2019:
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