I recently ran across the headline of a blog post that advocated for shorter résumés over longer ones. This really puzzled me. Professional résumé writers tend to take a more balanced approach to the matter; yes, going on ad nauseum about each minute detail of your career is a bad idea, but generally, content is king and will dictate the prescribed length of your résumé. Curious, I clicked on the link.
The first rationale was that the reader would be less likely to lose interest if a résumé is shorter. But the thing is — it doesn’t matter if your résumé is one page or three pages. If it’s a snoozer, you’re going to lose the reader’s interest.
As I said in the first paragraph, content is king. When putting together your résumé, you need to be sure that everything you include really belongs there. Here are five questions you can ask yourself when evaluating items for your résumé:
1. Am I really considering WIIFT (what’s in it for them) instead of WIIFM (what’s in it for me)?
Constructing your résumé is inherently difficult because, oftentimes, you are using it because of a less-than-ideal situation in your career. You have been laid off or are in a frustrating work environment, and your goal is to get a new job. Not just any job, however; you want your résumé to help you achieve your objective of gaining employment with a company that aligns with your values, provides a stimulating and supportive work environment, has good pay and benefits, and challenges you with growth and promotional opportunities.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a list of wants like this. However, having these wants at the forefront when you are writing your résumé can cause you to not keep the needs of the company into consideration. Instead of including what is important to them based on factors like:
- the job description,
- the company website,
- articles written about the business, and
- industry trends,
you may find yourself keeping details that are important to you. “I want a future employer to know about this,” you think. Problem is, what’s important to you will not matter to the company you are applying to (at least, not at the interview stage). Check your perspective periodically as you write to ensure you don’t stray into the WIIFM territory.
2. Why is this item important to the types of positions I am applying to?
If this question feels like a rehash of #1, it is — sort of.
It is good to have a second check in place to make sure that the focus you have with your résumé is appropriate. But I feel that this question gets a bit more specific about each piece of information. Question #1 causes you to take a broad look at the overall direction of your résumé, but this one looks at your document on the micro level and causes you to weigh how relevant each piece of information is to a prospective employer.
3. Do I have the right details to allow the reader to “see” me doing a specific activity?
While using buzzwords on a résumé is appropriate, not having information to back up your claims makes them worthless. So, by all means, you should use the stories of your career to explain how you have embodied a particular activity.
By the same token, “more detail” doesn’t always equal “better.” Adding in too many details detracts from your story, making it difficult for the reader to focus on the aspects that really matter. Trivial details don’t help, but details that show how you used X skill to reach Y accomplishment do. Take inventory of what you have written and ditch the trivial.
4. How will this show the value I add to my employers?
Having good numbers alone doesn’t tell the whole story of why you have been a success at your job. Being able to demonstrate how your company benefited from your outstanding work does.
Think about it this way: say you are a basketball player who scores an average of 27 points per game. Sounds good, right? But what if you are directionally challenged and actually scored all those points for the opposite team? Not such a great picture now, is it?
5. Are these skills/certifications current enough for the requirements of the position?
More often than not, skills and certifications that you have acquired will need to be updated at some point. Virtually every industry is affected by upgrades in technology, and being able to stay certified in your given field will necessitate earning credits through attendance in courses and seminars, giving presentations, and so on. Make sure that the skills and certifications you possess are at the cutting edge.
Now for the tip:
With your résumé, you need to hook your reader fast! Look at your “top fold” — the top half of the first page of your résumé. Does your profile statement pop with your unique value? Do you clearly outline the skills set that you possess? If you don’t give audience a reason to learn more about you beyond the top half, they won’t continue on.
Does this article resonate with you? Let’s work together for you and your career!