Your resume should be more than just a list of duties. Here’s how to make sure it showcases your skills as well as your professional brand.
In the digital age, the concept of the resume has evolved to become more than just a document that articulates duties and responsibilities. It’s also a profile that outlines your career journey, showcasing your professional brand, your accomplishments and, of course, your skills. To market yourself effectively you should supplement your traditional resume with an online profile and presence visible to your social network and recruiters.
In 2013 it was estimated that recruiters spend on average of six seconds reviewing a resume. Yes, I said six seconds. That gives you a very short time to make a great first impression. Your resume should be crisp and concise to convey the right amount of information to get you to the short-listed pile. After that, you can speak in more detail about your experience.
So, does your current resume effectively represent you? If not, here are a few things you can do to market yourself in the best possible light:
- Keep it short. It’s a best practice to limit your resume to two to three pages in length. I know you’re wondering how you can summarize all of your information in three pages. First tip: Your work experience should focus on the last 10 years of your career. The reality is all jobs have evolved over the last 10 years, and your transferable experience should be the focus. Don’t document every single task you’ve ever performed, because it will be too much to read. If you have relevant experience prior to the last 10 years, document it as a line item at the bottom of your resume with the name of the employer, job title and dates. This will help keep your information relevant and concise.
- Articulate your work experience. Your work experience outlines your career journey and showcases the experiences, knowledge, skills and expertise that you have built up over time. Many people get stuck on documenting what they do. It can be the hardest question to answer. Approach your experience by thinking about how you would answer these questions:
- What are your top five responsibilities?
- What business group(s) do you work with? Who are the stakeholders you partner with, internally and externally?
- How you do articulate or measure success in your job? What are some of your important deliverables?
- Do you specialize in a region, business area or functional area?
Once you start to think about your career this way, you can craft a concise and relevant snapshot of your journey.
- Highlight your development and accomplishments. We all have the opportunity to learn continuously on the job. Maybe it’s a project we worked on with new stakeholders to understand how a business area works, or some new technology we learned to use, or a new process we worked through. Learning something new not only expands our knowledge but also broadens our horizons, opening us up to new ways of thinking. Those developments can lead to personal and professional accomplishments that help shape us both as professionals and as people.
Accomplishments are important milestones in your career journey. They should be highlighted as work you are most proud of. Reflect back on the year and think about one or two things you did that fit this criterion.
- Include your education and certifications. Formal education and certifications are important to document, especially if you are looking for a specialized role. If you have obtained a license or certification (e.g., Society of Actuaries, PMP, CSC, LLB), clearly indicate it so it’s easy to find on your resume. Since recruiters proactively search online for top talent, both the name of the certification and acronym should appear on your resume to increase the chances of it being found in a search.
- Describe your skills and competencies. Skills are an integral part of your professional career journey. While work experience outlines your responsibilities, skills highlight your transferable traits that can be applied across jobs. It’s an important and often overlooked component of a resume. The two most relevant types of skills to include on your resume are social skills and hard skills. Social skills are interaction and communication skills such as teamwork, collaboration and leadership. Hard skills are task- or situation-specific skills such as project management, media design, campaign management and managing budgets.
- Establish your online presence. My last tip is about building your online profile. The recruitment industry is undergoing a paradigm shift away from an applicant-focused approach to a more proactive recruitment approach. This means recruiters are continuously searching for talent that most matches the skills and experience they are looking for. The medium of choice is through social networking tools such as LinkedIn and Internet search engines such as Google. It’s crucial to ensure you are building out your online professional presence as well as updating your resume. LinkedIn is a great place to start. If you already have a LinkedIn profile, bookmark some time in your calendar every three to six months to update it with new accomplishments and skills. This will ensure your online resume is always up to date.
Your resume is a reflection of yourself, so take the time to make it show you in the best possible light!
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