Sunday, February 1, 2009

Resume Musings

I know more people who have lost their job in the past 4 months than those who lost jobs in the combined rest of my life. What is even more sad is that many of these people are highly talented individuals. As I wrote in a entry before, being prepared is key. I'd like to write a little bit on how to write a resume.

I'd bet most people haven't seen a resume besides their own. I don't think that mine is the greatest in the world, but the format worked to land me a couple of jobs.

Here's a brief copy of mine from a few months ago:


I'll try to highlight a couple of key things that I tried to do, and I recommend to others.

First and foremost, your resume needs to be clean, concise and tack-sharp focused to the needs of the position you are applying more. Every time you apply to a new position, you must refocus your resume for the position you are applying for. This was important when the economy was good, and is now critical when you're competing against more people who are equally or more qualified for the position you seek.

Keep it Simple
I kept it to one page. I'm a big proponent of this. However, it also tends to reflect my style of writing (most of the time): concise & bulleted. I also know that during interviews, the interviewer typically has the resume right in front of them. It's awkward for them to flip back and forth between multiple pages. In addition, I'm only 25. I don't have a ton of positions to ramble on about. This may force me at some point to go to 2 pages. A resume should never be more than 2 pages. Keep focused on the position and cut out what doesn't apply to the job you're doing. I have 4 summer internships in the industrial manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and machine building industries. Since they didn't apply to the job I was applying for, I didn't mention them. It's important to show you're responsible and can keep a job when you're landing your first job out college, so you can list that you served coffee at your uncle's barber shop during the summers. Once you're in the working world, those nonsense jobs need to be cut.

Fill the Whole Space
You'll probably notice the "Who is Matt Adams?" section. Honestly, I went out on a limb with that one. In college I had that space reserved for extra-curricular activities. I had to fill the space. I had a couple of executive recruiters say that they're usually not a fan of that use of space, but mine was an exception. Take that for what it's worth.

Sell Yourself
A resume is a marketing piece. Having it look polished and clean is key. It reflects directly on the impression of the brand - you!

Know What You Wrote
It's also important to have a talking point or two about every single item on your resume when you get an interview. You will be asked about it, and its even possible that you were asked to interview for a single word or phrase on your resume. On one version of my resume, I mentioned a skill I knew little about and was drilled heavily on the theory of the skill during an interview. It was awkard. Don't let that happen to you.

Have Others Help
It is important to read, reread and read again what you have in your resume before you send it off to a potential employer. Send it to friends, family and anyone that you can think of for feedback and editing. A well written resume shows your ability to communicate, pay attention to detail and understand your strengths. It's more than just a sheet of paper.

A Final, Serious Note:
We're heading towards 10% unemployment... spend a weekend soon to update your resume if you haven't updated it in the past 6 months. Email me with a copy of yours if you'd like feedback. I'd be happy to help.

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