I then (gently) correct them: Your résumé won’t get you a job. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best résumé in the world. It won’t get you a job. What your résumé can do is get you a call for an interview.
That should be your goal for those sheets of paper that contain the summary of your life’s work. Nothing more. Fully understanding how a résumé fits into your job hunt is important because it helps you focus on what it needs to be successful in its role.
So how do I write a résumé that will get me an interview?
The best way to accomplish this task is to structure the details of how you have the qualifications to do the job in an easy-to-read format.
Sounds easy, you may be thinking. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, however.
The biggest obstacle that I have found with job seekers is that they want to include everything, even activities from past jobs that have nothing to do with the position they want to apply for at the present time. Doing that is only going to make it more difficult to see the experience that pertains to the job at hand. If the reader can’t easily discern from your résumé why you should be brought in for an interview, it won’t happen.
Say, for example, you are a bank teller. You are happy with your job and have no intention of leaving your current employer. However, you have also done cake decorating in the past and you want to find a part-time position decorating cakes because you enjoy it and it will bring in a little extra money.
In structuring your résumé, you should front-load it with a description of your characteristics that help you to function well within that role, as well as qualifications that show what specifically you have done while employed as a cake decorator in the past. Make sure the information germane to cake decorating is in the top half of the first page — that’s where you want it. Hook your reader right away and keep the focus on the main topic.
Don’t bury that vital information by placing it alongside whatever chronological listing of your employment history. If HR/the hiring manager has to work to determine why you are a good fit for the opening — well, they just won’t. They will instead go for those candidates who make it easy to see why they possess the desired background.
As far as your banking skills, prospective employers aren’t concerned about that because you won’t be performing those job duties for them. All that you do by listing the other information is make it harder for them to see why they should bring you in for an interview. Reading about your work as a bank teller won’t help them decide if you can be a good cake decorator.
That being said, there may be some skills from banking that are transferable to cake decorating. Say, for example, being detail-oriented or being known for taking the extra time to understand what the customer wants. Those attributes apply to both fields, so putting these transferable skills on the top half of the first page makes perfect sense.
How well is your résumé accomplishing its goal?
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