- The format you use after graduation shouldn’t be the same format after five years of experience.
- Don’t itemize the same duties for each position held. When I’m reading resumes, I find bland redundancy to be a constant annoyance.
- Resume should be no more than two pages. A cover letter emphasizing key parts of your resume that relate to the position your applying for is acceptable, and even helpful to the reader. When sending your resume digitally, attach the cover letter at the end of the resume rather than as a separate attachment. Some data bases that electronically scan the document aren’t sophisticated enough to handle two separate documents for the same applicant. You could end up in their system twice or have one of the two documents rejected.
- Write the resume or your LinkedIn profile in the knowledge that it will eventually reside in a searchable archive. You may hear from the search firm today, or more likely two years from today on another assignment. Keep your LinkedIn profile current irrespective of your job search activity, applicant tracking systems are designed to parse this profile like any other resume. Trolling LinkedIn is standard fare for talent acquisition professionals.
- Use contact information that isn’t likely to change especially your email address. Do not use your company address or a cute personal address. The address you use on your resume should be one that you check regularly. Consider a service such as Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail, which allows you to set up an account and forward mail to your personal home account.
- Make it as easy as possible for the employer or search consultant to reach you during the day. A personal cell phone number is best – again, not the company cell.
- After your contact information, insert your Career Objective or Executive Summary. This section should be indented from the main resume body, highlighted and no more than twenty words. If you can't state what you do in 20 words or less, you probably don't know what you are doing.
- A chronological employment history, with proper title and employer name comes next. Accurate employment dates on the left side, not the right. If you’re not sure of the actual employment and departure date, then month and year are sufficient.
- Statement of duties and responsibilities with each position, limit yourself to the four or five that take up eighty percent of your working week. Quantify the scope of your duties without divulging proprietary information that’s critical to your former or current employer. If duties and responsibilities’ are similar for each position, avoid redundancy and leave more room for “significant accomplishments.”
- Significant Accomplishments are successes that surpass the norm and where possible should be: quantifiable in dollars saved, earned, budget or project size; number of subordinates managed; percentage increase in market share; or square footage built or leased, etc. Why quantify your accomplishments? Look at a page of text with a few numbers dispersed among the letters, your eyes will always view the numbers first – a resume is no different. You want the interviewer to see the numbers.
- Managing Proprietary Information - Get permission if you need to use information that is borderline proprietary. Why? I’ll ask you if you had permission to use the numbers. If you don’t have it, it’s an indiscretion I wouldn’t want you repeating with my client.
- Emphasize personal performance metrics in comparison to peers in relation to division, department or personal performance.
- Assign responsibility for stated accomplishments to your team when it’s accurate to do so, but don’t avoid claiming your right to personal achievements in some misconstrued belief that there is no “I” in team. There is no “L” in Team either, but every team has a leader. A resume is your time to blow your own horn, not to do so is a contrivance.
- Education – emphasize degree and successes if you’re writing the resume at the early stage of your career; but as the year’s progress you’re going to be judged on you success and accomplishments. Continuing education is critical – individuals that are intellectually sedentary aren’t overly attractive especially if the company you’re applying to considers itself a “learning organization.”
- Community Volunteerism – “if you want something done, ask a busy person.” Some companies avoid individuals that are socially active in their communities; my advice is to avoid these companies as prospective employers. To be motivated daily, your values at work need to parallel your values at home.
- Interests – Painting, gardening, writing poetry and long walks in the woods are not the kind of interests an employer wants to see for a position that requires a high degree of social interaction. If you’re applying for a position that calls for behavioral traits that are inconsistent with whom you are as a person, then perhaps you need to reevaluate your employment goals.
- Key Words – At the bottom of the resume, create a box labeled “SEO Meta-Tags” and insert “nouns,” which describe your functional duties. This is not advice you will read in most books on resume design but it’s a feature at the end of the resume that will increase the likelihood of your information being found by a CRM/ATS search engines. Most large corporate and headhunter data bases use search engine algorithms’ that locate key words and organize the search result based on relevancy. The greater number of key words found in a document, the more likely your name will he highlighted on the output.
Friday, May 29, 2015
Resume Design – A Headhunter's Perspective
Forbes Rutherford is President of Rutherford International (www.rutherfordinternational.com), his team has provided specialized HR consulting and executive search services to both national and international property and investment firms for the past twenty five years. He also oversees the management of NEXTalent Inc., (www.nextalentinc.com) a job marketing and recruitment agency that provides clients with a cost effective recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) solution for acquiring talent.
Through his NEXTpath Inc. division, Mr. Rutherford sponsors behavioral research to determine the key success traits common to high performers within the global real estate and investment communities. Through the establishment of these functional benchmarks, Mr. Rutherford has access to a broad cross section of active senior executives and rising stars. He is in a unique position to observe the changing macro trends and oncoming challenges facing the communities that make up international real estate, infrastructure and alternative energy.
Additional background information may be viewed at the following web links: http://www.linkedin.com/in/rutherfordintl
REmatrix.com www.rematrix.com When a client comes to you seeking a new opportunity, what advice do you give them?
Forbes RutherfordIt’s probably best that we clarify who the client is as it varies with each company. In the context of Rutherford International's executive search services or NEXTalent Inc., the client isn't the prospect but rather the corporation. Our fiduciary responsibility is toward the corporation who has retained our services. That's not to suggest we aren't prepared to play the role of 'trusted intermediary' between the two parties. The purpose of the search was most likely to implement a strategy or resolve a problem, it's beneficial to all concerned that we leave the table in the knowledge that 'fairness' was the basis of the negotiation.
With respect to NEXTalent, again it's the corporation however we have a moral obligation to the candidate to provide them with honest counsel that advances their careers. I didn't design NEXTalent to be just another agency, this sector is driven by 'self-interest' which seems to be an acceptable ethical standard by some employers that have little regard for their employer brand. My opinion about this sector can be read at this link on REmatrix.com, it's an old tirade but is still current given their business model remains intact. It's not likely they'll change until the Internet and machine learning via AI pry's it from their cold dead hands.
NEXTpath Inc. is quite different, the firm operates as a coach and career agent to a community of individuals that have been scientifically identified for having the potential to high-perform in their selected function. These high-performers are our client's, we're their sounding board, we help them with the vagaries of change by directing them to relevant resources for the situation at-hand or by assessing career opportunities that they are likely to busy to consider.
REmatrix.com www.rematrix.com Okay, so when a potential candidate comes to you seeking a new opportunity, what advice do you give them?
I do get industry professionals coming to me for advice on how they should approach their job search. What I tell them is contingent on whether they’re using an “outplacement” service or doing it on their own. If they’re using third party assistance (generally provided by the former employer) then it’s likely that they have gone through a battery of tests and assessments that are designed to determine behavior, personality and interests. If not, or they’re on their own in this job seeking adventure then I’ll let them use my assessment services. Self-appraisal and self-awareness is important at this phase of their life; by understanding ones strengths and what truly motivates oneself, one can recognize career opportunity more effectively.
Ask a CEO to identify their greatest human resource challenges, I can assure you that one of them will be the challenge of finding motivated talent. If you don’t understand your strengths, what gets you passionate, or the optimum working environment, then the odds of finding the right position will be based entirely on serendipity. Since seventy-five percent of the workforce isn’t happy with their job, I’d say serendipity hasn’t struck the average worker very often. So before offering advice, I ask three fundamental questions, “Do you know your strengths, your interests and what gets you excited each and every day?”
REmatrix.com www.rematrix.com Do most job seekers know what they’re looking for, and how they fit into the industry?
Forbes RutherfordBy and large, the answer is a resounding “No!” Some of course are looking to clone their former position with another firm. They may not have the luxury of time to reassess their career or decompress from a previous position or they’ve taken the position – allegorically speaking – “office leasing is office leasing, it doesn’t much matter who it’s with.” Of course, they’re dead wrong. Job’s are usually chosen this way, not careers. You can tell by the resume if a person hasn’t taken adequate time to think through their career.
REmatrix.com www.rematrix.com Would you comment on resume errors that you’ve seen?
Forbes RutherfordWhole books are written on this subject, but fundamentally, it's not taking the time to think about the content. A resume is simply a marketing tool designed to get you through the door, it’s not meant to land you the job. It’s a living document, which defines your growth in knowledge, states your underlying value in the past and present and the likelihood of your success in the future.
It’s the most important personal document the average person will ever draft, and yet many spend little time in its creation. For example, the professionally written resume, which I find abhorrent, suggests either bad time management or inferior writing skills – if you can’t take the time to design and draft a document to effectively market yourself, how thorough will you be in representing your employer?
REmatrix.com www.rematrix.com Would you comment on the resume format you prefer?Forbes Rutherford
I’ll give you the abridged version of what I tell candidates. There are three basic formats for resume design – “functional”, “chronological” and a “hybrid” of the first two. When I receive a functional resume, I’m instantly suspicious and look for what’s being hidden versus emphasized. Candidates with significant gaps in their employment history favor the “functional” format.
I prefer a chronological format or a well thought out hybrid for the simple reason that it’s easier to interpret the flow of the person’s career decisions and the growth of their accomplishments in successive positions. When assessing a candidate by their resume, career choices are as important as duties and accomplishments. One can tell a great deal about a person’s judgment and the quality of their decision making by their career choices.
One other reason for a chronological format is “technology.” Large corporations and companies such as mine use data bases that optically scan resumes and drop all the critical information into searchable fields. Functional formats are poorly suited for this type of technology as the information must be manually inputted through a cut and paste process. It’s tedious, and we get to it when we have time, and we have very little time.
Rule of Thumb: A resume is only meant to get you through the door for an interview.
REmatrix.com www.rematrix.com What are your basic rules for resume design?