Tips for Building Effective Resume
A resume is a summary of background, skills and qualifications, which is sent to employers for review. Consider it to be your personal marketing brochure with the goal of gaining the employer’s attention and to giving them the information they need to bring you to the next step in the hiring process, an interview. Your resume is often the first document that an employer would typically look at, so it serves as your first impression in the employment process. A well-written and formatted resume tells the employer a lot about your professionalism, and improves the chances for receiving an interview and as it is said that first impression is the last impression, so your resume should be very effective.
Format Your Resume Wisely “Do the Hiring Managers” Work for Them
No matter how well written, your resume won’t get a thorough reading at a first glance. Generally a resume gets scanned for 25 seconds. Scanning is more difficult if it is hard to read, poorly organized or exceeds two pages.
- Use a logical format and wide margins, clean type and clear headings
- Selectively apply bold and italic typeface that help the reader’s eye
- Use bullets to call attention to important points (i.e. accomplishments)
Identify Accomplishments not Just Job Descriptions
Hiring managers, especially in technical fields like engineering, seek candidates that can help them solve a problem or satisfy a need within their company. Consequently, you can’t be a solution to their problems without stating how you have solved similar problems in other companies and situations.
- Focus on what you did in the job, NOT what your job was there’s a difference
- Include a one or two top line job description first, then list your accomplishments
- For each point ask yourself, What was the benefit of having done what I did?
- Accomplishments should be unique to you, not just a list of what someone else did
- Avoid using the generic descriptions of the jobs you originally applied for or held
Quantify Your Accomplishments
Q: What’s the most common resume mistake?
A: Making too many general claims and using too much industry jargon that does not market the candidate. A resume is a marketing document designed to sell your skills and strengths rather than just portray a bio of the candidate.
- Include and highlight specific achievements that present a comprehensive picture of your marketability
- Quantify your achievements to ensure greater confidence in the hiring manager and thereby generate interest percentages, dollars, number of employees, etc.
- Work backwards to quantify your accomplishments by asking, if I had not done X, what could have happened?
Cater your Resume for the Industry
Unlike advertising and designing professionals who have greater creative license in designing their resume for those fields, the mechanical engineering industry won’t be impressed and may be turned off by distinctive resume design.
- Err on the side of being conservative stylistically
- Your accomplishments, error-free writing, grammatically-correct, clean, crisp type and paper will make the impression for you.
Replace your Objective” with a “Career Summary”
A Career Summary is designed to give a brief overview of who you are and what you do. Most Objectives sound similar: Seeking a challenging, interesting position in X where I can use my skills of X, Y, and Z to contribute to the bottom line. Not telling at all.
- Grab a hiring manager’s attention right from the beginning, remembering you
- have only 25 few seconds to make a good impression
- Spend time developing a summary that immediately gets their attention, and accurately and powerfully describes you as a solution to their problems
Use %’s, $’s and #’s
You should always use %’s, $’s and #’s. Dollar totals, numbers, and percentages stand out in the body of a resume. Below are two examples of a job duty described with them (good) and without (bad). As you can see by the examples, being specific does not mean being lengthy.
- Bad: Account manager for advertising agency
- Good: Managed 15 strategic accounts billing in excess of $15MM annually
- Bad: Sold widgets to clients located in the Midwest
- Good: Increased sales by 17% in a 5-state territory
Network. Network. Network.
For unemployed candidates, handing out resumes should be a full-time job. The majority of mid- to senior-level positions are filled through networking, so contact everyone you know in addition to recruiters who are in a position to hire you or share insights. Networking can include-
- Personal business contacts, people you’ve worked for or who worked for you
- Vendors and sales representatives you’ve dealt with in the past five years
- People listed in the alumni directory of your alma matter
- With a solid resume in hand you’ll greatly increase your odds of earning a closer look and getting that interview.