Writing Relevant Resumes: Part 2 — Content
In the first part of this article, I discussed how the style of your resume can truly affect the first impression given to recruiters and hiring managers.
But style isn’t everything.
The content and context given needs to paint a picture that will entice and properly highlight relevant experience for the positions to which you are applying.
In recent years, the way we convey that content has shifted a bit, so let’s get you caught up.
PART 2 — CONTENT
Tired of being called a jack of all trades? Frustrated because recruiters assume where your focus lies?
It’s difficult sometimes knowing what content to include on a resume if you are open to multiple roles. Take a little time and write up separate versions so you can truly put the emphasis in the right places. You aren’t trying to hide something; on the contrary, you simply want to highlight the experience that best reflects the type of positions you are targeting. Trust me, recruiters would much rather deal with multiple resumes than try to convince a hiring manager that your project manager roles shouldn’t detract attention from the design projects you worked on in-between.
It’s a little extra effort that, in the long run, could help you secure an interview at that company you’ve been following for years.
Note: For overall questions about resume length, see Part 1: Style.
Recruiters often get asked, “How much job history should I show?” The word of the day is “relevance.”
At times, some outside experience could display your use of soft skills, but most times, you would be safe to list only relevant roles.
If you worked odd jobs, or had a previous career plan, then switched and have experience to list for those dev jobs you are shooting for, focus on those development jobs and leave the other experience off. It makes sense to include that additional information only if you have a bit of back and forth going on, so as to not appear as if your work history is unstable.
For example, perhaps you worked in marketing before you moved into a user experience designer role. Those skills are relevant. Otherwise, leave those old jobs off and create a sense of purpose and direction.
However, if you live and die by numbers, no more than 10 years of experience is needed on a resume. If the experience you need to reference is 10+ years old, chances are it’s not going to help you land that gig.
Skills vs. Projects
Many resumes tend to focus heavily on the skills used and not what the goals were, or the accomplishments made because of those skills. Yes, we need to know what skills you bring to the table, but be careful not to skew the scale so much that recruiters aren’t able to see how you applied those skills. Results are much more important than intentions.
Blurring the Line between I and We
Companies now enjoy learning who you are as a person, what drives you, what environments you thrive in, and so on. When you start listing project deliverables, it’s very easy to blur the line between what you did vs. what your team did. It’s great to create understanding around how you fit into the larger picture by outlining what your team achieved, but ensure that you keep the spotlight on your contributions and don’t unintentionally mislead your resume’s readers.
To include or not include, that is the question.
Yes, you are proud of your previous work experience and the people you worked with, but don’t come on too strong. Think of it in dating terms: You wouldn’t want to go on a first date, only to end it by giving your date a list of references to vouch for what kind of person you are. That can come off as desperation.
Same rule applies here. You can always provide references down the line when appropriate. A better approach would be to have past/present coworkers give you recommendations on sites such as LinkedIn. You can now build a list of references that speak directly to your work ethic, skill sets and accomplishments.
People tend to be much more open to providing a written recommendation one time than multiple recommendations via phone. They will be there anytime a recruiter or hiring manager wants to dig in a bit.
Closing Thoughts on Content
Content is king when it’s presented in the right style, but remember, the goal is to entice, not to tell your complete story. Research your audience; make your resume clear, targeted and relevant; and don’t be afraid to create your own voice to stand out from the crowd.