Sick of not getting calls for interviews?
Most likely, your résumé isn’t impressing the decision makers reading it.
Let me guess, you decided to update your résumé after ages. And the first thing you did was get in front of your computer and bullet point the tasks and responsibilities that popped into your mind from your last or current job.
One of the most common errors we see in résumés is how people describe their experience. It reads like a job description – just tasks and responsibilities bulleted in single lines one after the other.
So in this week’s post, I wanted to provide you with three 3 simple upgrades to your résumé experience section.
#1 Be relevant
Being relevant is the foundation of your customization. The most common mistake we see 90% of job seekers making on their resume is that they feel the need to drown their resume with every detail of their experience and every single education and certification they ever had.
I was at a conference where someone stated that their resume was SIX pages long!
(And he was wondering why he wasn’t getting calls for interviews)
If you think today’s short-attention-span readers are going to read your entire document and cherry pick what’s important, well, they are not!
Don’t give the recruiter a newspaper to read. Use the job description to filter out all the experience that you do not need to include on your resume.
A perfectly design resumé is not one where there is nothing left to add, but one where there is nothing left to take away.
Remember, your resumé’s single purpose is to get a call for the interview. It’s only job is to get you past Phase 1 of your job search – get the call! Once that happens, your resumé has served it’s purpose and is no longer required, other than a reference document during the interview itself.
So always ask yourself this question “Is this piece of content that I’m adding going to make a difference to the reader to decide whether to call me or not?”
Most likely, that entry level job you did over 10 years ago is not going to make a difference.
That MCSE certificate you did is not going to make a difference.
Keep it simple, keep it relevant. At the resume reviewing stage, all the reader cares about is if you can do what’s on the job description. The rest of your experience will be brought to light at the interview (or your LinkedIn profile)
So once you know what is relevant to the job, avoid the temptation to list out your experience like a complacent laundry list of tasks.
Your resumé should not read like a job description.
You might be struggling with the effort of another customization, but tardiness on your end translates to laziness in the reader’s mind.
Here’s a simple exercise you can perform. For every responsibility in your resumé, structure it in three ways
- WHAT was the task
- HOW you did it differently
- PROOF you did it well
Ask yourself the what-how-proof question for every responsibility – no exceptions!
We’ll use my favorite job as an example – Account Receivables
You may have the following responsibility in your resume or job description:
“Collected payment dues owed by customers during month end financial closing.”
That’s the WHAT!
Great! Now ask yourself how you do it differently from others. You might say to yourself:
“Well I a process where I persistently follow up with clients and maintain positive relationships with their finance teams.”
Great stuff. One last question. Do you have proof you do it well?
“Hmm. Now that I think about it, before I joined the company, average collection period was 57 days when our target was supposed to be 30. After I joined, we brought that down to 35 days in about 3 months”
Fantastic! Now put it all together:
– Reduced average collection period by 39% in 3 months, collecting payment dues owe by customer during month end financial closing. I follow a systematic follow up process while maintaining positive relationships with client finance teams. Sharing my process with the team allowed us to reduce our average collection period from 57 days to 35 days.
If you are concerned that the above statement sounds like bragging, don’t be. Recruiters and hiring managers in North America want to see your accomplishments and the difference you made to your previous organizations.
Never downplay your accomplishments, because then you run the risk of sounding just like everyone else. Trust us when we say that the jobs are being awarded to the braggers.
#3 Use an active voice
That leads us to a final tweak – using powerful action verbs to start your experience sentences. This is referred to as having an active voice in your resume. Here is an example:
“20% of payments due by customers were improved in 3 months” (Passive Voice)
“Improved 20% of payments due to customers in 3 months” (Active Voice)
The difference is subtle, but to the reader, it matters. The first passive sentence sounds like you may not have been involved in this improvement. But the second passive sentence sounds like you were directly responsible for the improvement, which is the truth and the reader should know the truth.
Here is another example:
“A new filing system was designed that reduced month-end reporting time by 3 hours” (Passive Voice)
“Designed a new filing system that reduces month-end reporting time by 3 hours” (Active Voice)
Here is a great list of top 10 action verbs to choose from to start your experience sentences that managers love to see.
The point is to make sure that your involvement and accomplishment in the task is highlighted and made clear to the hiring manager reading your resume.
So the next time you customize your resume’s experience section, keep these 3 tweaks in mind.
I know it can be frustrating applying to job after job and never hearing back.
Chances are your resumé is not converting, and getting lost in the sea of other applications for the same job – a.k.a your competition.
The goal is always to stand out from your competition.
Most people applying for the same job probably do the same tasks as you.
The only way your resumé can stand out is if it clearly states your accomplishments and the difference you made to your organization.
Got questions? Ask away in the comments below.