With a narrow window of opportunity of only six seconds in which an experienced professional can make an impression in order to land that interview, your resume needs to quickly grab the attention of the interviewer.
The story you craft in your resume has to be so intriguing and compelling that it forces the interviewer to pick up the phone and look forward to meeting you in person.
Sounds like a tough feat to achieve? The truth is, crafting a solid and powerful resume is not rocket science. It does however involve quite a fair bit of effort and homework.
Here are some tips that may come in handy, especially for those that have been in the job market for a while and are looking for a change.
Name, address, contact information, relevant memberships and professional certifications are common basic information that should be easily found in any resume.
In today’s context, your online profiles like LinkedIn, Skype ID, personal blogs (appropriate to be shared in a professional context), etc are also important and considered very beneficial. These represent the experienced professional’s online savviness and their attitude towards keeping in trend with technology.
Many experienced people tend to go overboard and create long lists of information that are unnecessary.
These include IC number, driving licence type, date of birth, race, religion, gender, photo, skills qualification and language competency (especially those with ratings to indicate your level) and a whole list of training sessions attended. You should avoid giving this information, unless it is specifically requested in the advertisement.
Shout about your experience, not education
Unlike entry level candidates, experienced professionals should highlight their job experiences first. Unless you are in the education industry where your MBA and PhD are crucial criteria, education qualifications can come towards the end.
It is more than sufficient to highlight your top two qualifications and not go all the way back to primary school.
Highlighting critical experience and accomplishments
This portion of the resume is probably the most important for experienced professionals. And of course, this section is also the most challenging to craft.
Many professionals bore their interviewer to death by writing a mini chronological history of all their past job descriptions and end up with a four to five page resume. You don’t have to list all your past experiences by year, nor cover all your past jobs.
Learn to highlight relevant achievements that make you valuable. Keep a list of all your key achievements in every job you take. From your exhaustive list, pick and choose only key achievements from each job that may be relevant to the new job you are applying for.
If you’re applying for a job in the same function but of a higher level, would be good to storyboard your achievements in a “Growth” mode; for example, your experience and achievements should show a build-up from basic skills to a more managerial and leadership track in the particular function.
If you are applying for a job in the same industry but in a different function, let your achievement story show a “breadth” of experience in the industry, showcasing how comprehensive you are in being an industry expert.
And if you are planning to completely shift gears and try something new, then highlight the experiences you had in the new function or industry while going through your past jobs.
Remember to support all your highlighted achievements with financial KPIs or other measurable indicators suitable for the industry or function.
Remember that it is not necessary to indicate the time period you were at each job. Any chance to conceal your age is advantageous, whether you have insufficient years of experience needed by the job or you are too close to retirement.
It is illegal to discriminate people because of their age, but some employers take age into consideration nonetheless. If you can avoid age discrimination to land the interview simply by being wise, do it.
Use action verbs wisely
As you highlight your accomplishments, learn the art of using action verbs to enhance your resume’s effectiveness. Action verbs make all your achievements come to life and show a strong sense of getting things done. They enhance your capability on the job.
To find the best action verbs to convey your message to your interviewer, utilise any online search engine and you’ll get tonnes to choose from.
A word of caution though: using too many verbs can lead to buzzword overkill. Be tactful in your usage and be honest. Experienced interviewers can pick up on exaggeration.
Watch out for acronyms
One of the pitfalls of an experienced professional’s resume of is the usage of acronyms. It is something that is often overlooked because those acronyms are terms that are so familiar and common to the person preparing the resume. It could be an alien language to the new employer, though.
Depending on the job you are applying for, try not to use technical acronyms unless it is one that sells your qualifications/skills or one that is specifically listed as a requirement for the role you are applying for.
Even if you are sending your resume to a company in the same industry, note that the person who will read it for the first time might not have any technical expertise. You are better off making it more layman-friendly to ensure that it makes sense to the interviewer.
Highlight key non-work achievements/involvement
It is beneficial to let your future employer know you better as an overall individual in the context of work and outside of it. Many underestimate the value of their more current outside activities, which in fact help boost their overall marketability.
Involvement in volunteering activities, sports, community projects, relevant professional bodies, advocate groups and similar activities are highly regarded. Highlight key projects or initiatives you were a part of rather than just the “role” or “title” held.
These activities should be current. There is no point listing all your leadership positions in your school days and having a void in your working years. Be real and purposeful when you add in this information.
One resume for each employer
One of the most common mistakes that people make is to create a standard resume and send it to all the job openings that they can find.
Employers looking for experienced candidates are highly-skilled in figuring out whether or not your resume was prepared with them in mind or an off-the-shelf package.
The worst case you can imagine is sending in your resume addressed to another employer that you previously sent your resume to. Believe me, this has happened! Tailor your resume and cover letter for each employer. It makes a difference.
This might interest you: What Makes You Employable? Knowledge, Transferable Skills And Personal Qualities Top The List
Getting past the gatekeeper
Sixty per cent of companies’ initial “gate keepers” before Human Resources is an electronic resume software screening programme. It helps to know how these work so that you use the right keywords in your resume or the online application.
Remember to look out for all the specific requirements of the advertisement and fulfil those to get through.
Whether a position is advertised or not, you can still submit your resume to the interviewer if you take the initiative to find out his/her email. And the fastest way to land that interview is to have an “attention grabbing” subject and a cover letter email that “mirrors” what the company is looking for.
“Change Maker At your Service”, “Marshmallows Wanted”, “Passionate Professional Eager to Join You”, were some email subjects that made me personally curious to read a candidate’s resume submitted via email.
Though it may sound cheesy, it piqued curiosity and anticipation for a unique individual that stands out amongst the ordinary.
Once you get the attention of the interviewer, a succinct, concise cover letter that summarises your desire to join the organisation and what you can contribute to the organisation is essential.
Your chances of landing the interview will be heightened if your cover letter “mirrors” the key points that were advertised, as well as the values, culture and vision of the organisation. Use the recruiter’s keywords so they feel a connection to you.
Proof read your resume
Ensuring your resume is grammatically correct indicates professionalism and attention to detail. After proof reading your resume, also read it in third-party mode and ask yourself if your resume would impress your future employer.
As you embark on your resume-enhancing journey, keep in mind that your resume is a self-promotional document that presents you in the best possible light, for the purpose of getting invited to a job interview.
Put yourself in the shoes of the employer and prepare your resume to satisfy you in the capacity of the employer. And have fun in the whole process!
Ang Hui Ming is the co-founder of Leaderonomics with many awesome years of challenging career experiences in HR, Finance and Operations. To understand what Leaderonomics does as an organisation, visit here.