Updated: Dec 4, 2018
Over the years many people have asked me what they should include in their resume. While some people give up and end up including everything, this can often mean ending up with a 4, 5 or even 6-page document. Especially if you’ve had many years of experience and have made some achievements in your previous positions.
The biggest problem with taking this approach is that no one will read all of that information, so even your most noteworthy accomplishments will get lost in the shuffle.
There are some exceptions, but for most of us, our resumes should be no more than two pages long.
So, what should you do? Here are a few steps I take when writing resumes for my clients.
1. Look at similar job postings. You might be targeting a specific job at a particular company, but look for positions that are similar and find the things that they have in common. Doing this first will give you a solid resume that shouldn’t require any changes each time you apply for a position.
2. Whether you are looking for a large corporate environment or a small startup, select the points on your resume that highlight your past achievements in a similar environment and remove the things that don’t.
3. If your resume is still over two pages, reread each line and consider what would happen if you removed that specific piece of information. Is it relevant enough that removing it means that you wouldn’t get the interview? If the answer is yes then it can say, if not, remove it.
4. Make sure you are focusing on your relevant expertise, instead of just the accomplishments you are personally proud of. Let’s use my experience as the example here: I made a career change four years ago, but there are some things I did earlier in my positions that I am quite proud of. You have to take a moment and separate your emotional attachment about any part of your career and focus on providing the relevant information to your target employer.
5. Finally, think about the unique value that your experience offers, and how that differentiates you from other possible candidates. You’ve probably heard this concept called “transferable skills,” and it’s easier to include that you might think. I made a move from marketing, sales, and customer relationship management, over to regulatory compliance and documentation. Having spent time in both fields gives me the ability to interact with all levels of company employees to bring everyone together in agreement regarding our policies and procedures.
Take the time to focus on the skills and knowledge that are the most important for the specific job you are searching for. By doing that and following my tips above, you’ll get noticed by hiring managers in no time.
Good luck and best wishes!