Have you ever walked into a supermarket and chosen a product over another just because it had a more appealing package? As humans, we are continually making implicit judgements of objects, goods, services, and even fellow human beings based on how they are presented. In the same vein, your resume is the package that shows your value and informs the interest, or not, of recruiters/organisations/institutions in you.
Unfortunately, most times your resume is in the hands of people who cannot clarify many details from you, therefore making it susceptible to instant, irreversible judgements about your abilities and competence. You might be hardworking, fantastic team-player and even the best in your field and a look at your resume shows a clumsy, underachiever with no specific value-add.
In this article, I will highlight three simple tips to craft and own a banging resume.
1) Define your value.
Have you ever excitedly opened the refrigerator at your friend’s or parents’ only to find out that the ice cream bowl actually contained melon seeds? Very few things in life are more painful than that. You feel so deceived, and sometimes, if you had the power, you could toss the bowl and its pseudo content out of the fridge.
Against popular thinking, the most important part of a resume isn’t the format or the colours that overlay it. The most important part of a resume is the content. In my years as a recruiter, nothing upset me more than a well-designed resume that had no content. Consider the following questions when building content:
• What value am I offering? What do I want to sell and how does this fit with the needs of the organisation/institution?
• What about my work experience – do they me stand out? How relevant are they to the role in question? Remember, you don’t have to give details on your full work history; instead, focus on the ones that reflect the skills needed for the job.
• What achievements/accomplishments have I made (work and academic)? A lot of times, people think they have not had any achievements in their jobs because they have not received an award or special recognition. However, I always let clients know that getting the job done, and reaching the objectives set out is an achievement – own it!
• Yes, you may have little or no work experience, but what life experiences – e.g. as a volunteer or student – do you want to show on your resume? There are so many skills and achievements you can gain outside of a non-paying role or a conventional 9-5 work schedule. Think deeply about this and articulate what these skills and accomplishments are.
You cannot sell when there is no product. So, I will encourage you to continuously evaluate your experiences and education to ensure that you are constantly building an irresistible product. Take on that extra assignment at work, enrol in that exam and build your collateral.
2) Your resume is not a job advert.
It should have your job achievements and not a mere list of job descriptions. This is best explained with an example.
• Job description: Lead marketing and sales initiatives for the organisation.
Achievement: Championed the development and implementation of bespoke marketing initiatives that led to a 35% increase in product sales over 6 months.
• Job description: Conduct training sessions
Achievement: Designed and facilitated Customer Service training for 75 Senior Managers, achieving a 95% satisfaction rate from the participants.
• Job description: Assist the CEO plan calendar and schedule meetings
Achievements: Managed scheduling of the CEO’s personal and professional diary based on priority and immediate need.
Note the following when outlining your achievements:
• Represent your work achievements in the past tense – it is not an achievement if it has not happened.
• Always start your achievements with action words (managed, led, coordinated, etc.). This positions you as a doer.
• As much as possible, quantify your achievements – recruiters are drawn to quantifiable accomplishments. It is one thing to say “Generated tremendous sales for the organisation”, but this will likely carry more weight when you say “Increased client base by 20% thereby leading to a £500k increase in sales”.
3) One size does not fit all!
If you have been using the same resume to apply to all the job openings out there, you need to stop it now. Tailoring your resume is the most effective way of ensuring recruiters and automated systems shortlist you for the role. I know it is easy to have one resume and throw it all around, but when it comes to successful job search, the key is quality over quantity.
To tailor your resume, you would need to look at the specific job adverts and ensure your resume reflects the experiences and skills that are required for the job. Also, make sure the keywords used in the job advert are well reflected in your resume.
I hope these three tips are useful, and you are able to work on your resume to increase your chances of nailing that opportunity you so desire.
Anu Adejoro has over 6 years experience delivering people and change solutions for clients across Africa, Europe and the Middle-East. She started her career as a People and Change consultant with PwC where she was involved in diverse projects including middle level and executive-level recruitment. She now works as a Senior People and Change Consultant with Arup UK. Outside of the 9-5 Anu offers CV and Career Advisory services with clear testimonials of success to show for this. Beyond consulting, Anu is passionate about Nigeria politics and music.
*All posts on Naomi’s Parlour are edited by Ife Agboola.