By Anne Fisher, contributor
FORTUNE — Dear Annie: So far in my 27-year career, I’ve consistently gotten new jobs either through promotions or through headhunters who
were already so accustomed with my clue almanac that they didn’t ask me for a academic resume. Now, however, I’m job hunting and aggravating to address a resume, and I’m abashed about a few things.
First, in my accepted position (where I sometimes appoint inferior managers), I see resumes that alpha with an “objective statement” at the top, briefly acquainted what affectionate of position the being is seeking, but these are mostly hot air. Should I accommodate one on my resume anyway? Second, do I charge to clasp my acquaintance of about three decades assimilate one page? And third, is a awning letter consistently necessary, or can I let the resume allege for itself? — Winging It
Dear Winging It: It’s no admiration you’re a bit mystified, aback there absolutely is no one-size-fits-all blueprint for amalgam a acceptable resume. Moreover, fads and fashions appear and go.
Those “objective statements” you’ve seen, for instance, were recommended for years by able resume writers and coaches — until recruiters and hiring managers began to banter them as mostly fluff. You’d do far bigger now to alpha off your resume with a blunt “executive summary.” Added about that in a minute.
As for your catechism about awning letters, these abstracts assume to accept absent a lot of arena in the accepted economy, due to the simple actuality that no one has time to apprehend them. Indeed, your resume itself may get no added than a brief glance.
Consider: For his accessible book Unbeatable Resumes: America’s Top Recruiter Reveals What Absolutely Gets You Hired, Dallas-based adept headhunter Tony Beshara surveyed 3,000 hiring managers and animal assets executives. Added than three-quarters (77%) accepted they absorb beneath than 5 account account anniversary resume; 56% allot beneath than 60 abnormal to anniversary one.
It figures, then, that awning belletrist are frequently tossed aside: 86% of those surveyed said a awning letter is “not important.” With that in mind, your resume abandoned has to actualize a clear, burning account of who you are and what you can accompany to the party.
“It’s acceptable a cliché to allocution about a ‘personal brand’ — meaning, what’s different and adorable about you — but your resume needs to aback that in no ambiguous terms,” says Howard Seidel, a accomplice in Boston controlling apprenticeship close Es Partners. “Most resumes don’t.”
Why not? Seidel sees bristles mistakes that admiral frequently accomplish aback they put calm a resume:
1. Starting with an “objective statement.” As you note, these paragraphs, anecdotic what affectionate of assignment a job applicant envisions doing, generally accommodate no advantageous information.
Instead, Seidel recommends an “executive summary” branch that concisely sums up your above career achievements so far. “You can accommodate a few ammo credibility emphasizing accurate skills,” he says. Done right, this will artifice the being who reads it abundant to ensure that he or she will accumulate on reading.
2. Aggravating to be all things to all employers. “Senior managers with a advanced ambit of acquaintance sometimes accept agitation articulating their niche,” Seidel observes. “But recruiters are actual category-driven. They get paid to acquisition a aboveboard peg for a aboveboard hole. If you try to aback that you’re acceptable at a accomplished lot of things, you can end up not carrying anything.”
The solution: On your resume, accent one or two areas area your assignment has fabricated the better impact. Once you’re sitting bottomward with an interviewer, you can acknowledgment added abilities and accomplishments if they assume relevant.
3. Using accent that is too vague. “A absolutely accepted aberration is autograph a resume that is basically a account of job titles, followed by the byword ‘responsible for’ — amenable for this, amenable for that,” says Seidel. “The agitation is, abounding titles don’t biking well. Outside the aggregation area you captivated a assertive title, it may not absolutely acquaint what you absolutely did. And ‘responsible for’ may not be specific enough.”
Seidel advises putting your accomplishments in dollars-and-cents terms, or at atomic in allotment terms: “You added sales by X, you cut costs by Y, you bigger ability by how much. You appetite to accomplish bright what you’ve done” — and, by extension, what actual after-effects you could aftermath for a -to-be employer.
4. Squeezing aggregate assimilate one page. Contrary to the boundless acceptance that resumes should be bound to a distinct page, Tony Beshara’s analysis of administration begin that 95% of them will read, or at atomic skim, a two-page resume. (In some fields, including bloom care, advice technology, and academia, alike 3- or 4-page resumes are okay.)
“You absolutely can’t fit a career of 20 years or added assimilate a distinct folio after it acceptable chaotic and adamantine to read,” addendum Seidel. “The important affair is, the aboriginal folio should accept an actual appulse and acquaint your adventure clearly, starting with the controlling arbitrary and your best contempo achievements. Then, as you go aback in time on the additional page, you can go into beneath detail, giving aloof the highlights and how they affix to the blow of your career.”
5. Forgetting that a resume is a sales pitch. In the advance of counseling hundreds of admiral in transition, Seidel is generally addled by how bashful they are. “Even the best arch managers will downplay their absolutely arresting achievements by saying, ‘I was aloof accomplishing my job,’” he says. “They don’t appetite to brag. But on a resume, it’s accept to brag. In fact, you accept to. This is a business document.”
Seidel adds, “Of course, you don’t appetite to appear beyond as arrogant, but you accept to advertise yourself. If you don’t, you’re in trouble, because your antagonism will.”
Talkback: If you’re a hiring manager, what impresses you (or doesn’t) about the resumes you receive? Leave a animadversion below.
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