How to Write a Great Resume (Part 2)
Writing a great resume means having a great flow to what you present and the order you present it. In Part 2 of this series, Get-It-Done Guy explans how to craft a resume that will get you the job.
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Don’t Overemphasize Your School
If you’re young, list your schools at the top, because your qualifications come from your education more than your work experience. Once you’ve had a couple of jobs, however, Bo wants to know what you’ve done on the job. Your schools matter less. Move them to the bottom of your resume.
The one exception is if you have awe-inspiring credentials like degrees from MIT and Harvard in which case, that’s all you put on your resume, along with the words, “WORSHIP ME!!” in a big, bold font. Use several exclamation points. You won’t get the job, but your ego will feel much better about the $350,000 worth of tuition you’ll be paying back until you’re 85.
Your Resume Organization Tells a Story
Traditionally, resumes list all your jobs, most recent first. That organization doesn’t really tell a story, though, except “tThis person is now older than they used to be.” Readers often ignore your earlier jobs, under the theory that if you did it a while ago, you couldn’t possibly still be good at it. That’s kind of bizarre, since the truth may be that you’re now expert at it. Regardless, early career accomplishments get short shrift in a chronological ordering.
Gaps on a chronological resume stand out and invite awkward questions (“What’s this two-year gap?” “Well, I had a job. I dressed up as a giant purple hot dog. I don’t like to talk about it. It wasn’t a proud moment.”)
Functional Resumes Let You Control the Story
If you have resume gaps, or are changing careers, a chronological list may work against you. Poor Bo is way too busy to figure out how your past experience would qualify you for what seems to be a different job than you’ve done before. Luckily, you can still tell a good story by using a "functional resume."
Include sections corresponding to your major skill sets, or major results you can deliver. List detailed experience there. For example, under “Sales Experience,” list your time selling memberships in fractional jet rentals and that time you set up a lemonade stand with your best friend in 3rd grade. That way, older experience can still be part of the story showing you have awesome skills. Indeed, it can even be used to tell the story that this skill is one that spans a lifetime. (As well as a misdemeanor indictment for selling victuals without a license, but you don’t need to include that detail on the resume.)
If you choose a functional organization, you may still want to include a bottom section listing employers and job titles. This turns your resume into a “combined” resume that gives the interviewer both a skill-based impression of you and a big picture summary of where you’ve worked. Whether or not you decide to do a combined resume depends on whether or not it supports the story you want to tell. Google “functional resume” for many, many examples..
Verify the Story
Whether you choose a chronological or functional approach, have a friend read the resume when you think you're done with it. Tell them the company you’re applying for, the problems you believe that company has, and ask them “If you were a hiring manager, would you call this person in for an interview? Why?” Don’t ask them if it’s a good resume; dozens of good resumes get discarded. Don’t ask them if it makes you look good; everyone’s resume makes them look good. You want to know if the story your resume tells is one that will make Bo pause and think “This just could be the answer to our problems,” and put you in the “Bring this person in!” pile.
I'm Stever Robbins. I help high-achievers create extraordinary lives, careers, and businesses. If you want to know more, visit SteverRobbins.com.
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