Have you ever tried to drink coffee without cream and sugar? Or how about cutting sugar out of your diet all together? It’s hard! Life is all about the little things. Where would we be without butter, sugar, salt and all those little pleasures that make the culinary world so colorful? It’s the same when it comes to your resume. Without the little things, skill sets, objective statements and job chronology just doesn’t seem to cut it. Like the old maxim states, just like your body can’t live on bread alone, your resume and career can’t live on facts alone! It will get you by, but unless you want to be thrown into a stack of similar resumes, spice it up! You are more than ink and job history on a piece of paper. You are your achievements, successes, failures, hobbies and personality. The real trick is getting them all on your resume, without having it feel burdened or belabored.
Before going further, let me be clear, you shouldn’t throw everything and the kitchen sink into your resume. Like a good recipe, you must choose carefully the ingredients you intend to put together, or a good cup of coffee, brought to the perfect temperature with exactly the right amount of cream and sugar. Keep in mind the audience, or hiring authority that will be reading your resume. The basic ingredients are necessary to craft the foundation of your resume: Name, contact information, objective statement, job history (including those little, pesky positions that always seem to slip through the cracks), and education. These ingredients are not enough. Now here comes the fun and important part. Add the sugar and spice!
Instead of adding simple contact information, why not add that Skype account you have, or professional webpage you built? Hiring authorities are grasping new mediums of technology all the time. Skype, video conferencing and social media are becoming a norm. In the technology industry, phones in the work place are becoming obsolete. Why not provide alternative methods of contacting you on your resume to help hiring authorities? The more you offer to ‘help’ the person reading your resume, the higher the chances of being considered. Considering this, be warned; watch what you put on media outlets like facebook, twitter and any other public networking site. Any hiring authority with a basic understanding of technology will be checking these sources. Be perceived the way you want to be perceived. Don’t let your facebook page delate your professional character.
Next, let’s consider your job history. Of course, you should add your job title, employer, years worked and job responsibilities. The foundation of a good resume starts here. To take it to the next level, here are a few hints to help spice it up. Add the months you worked, not just years. As a recruiter, I come across dozens of resumes a day that only list the years they worked at present and past companies. This is always confusing and requires further investigation. If you were recruited from your previous position in August of 2011 and began your new position in September. Include it. Simply adding years worked raises warning flags in the mind of hiring authorities. Remember, ‘help’ them read through your resume, not hinder them.
Keywords and spice and everything nice! When you start listing the responsibilities you had or have in your career, make sure you add every keyword you can think of. Here’s another little secret that will help you; hiring authorities scan your resume and look for reasons NOT to include you. If they don’t see the keywords they want to see, they will move on very quickly. Do not give them the opportunity to disregard you as a potential candidate for their position. Provide them with the information they are looking for. If you have worked on specific projects, or have knowledge of specific programs or machines, LIST THEM ALL. That being said, if you are applying for a Process Control Engineering position that requires knowledge of specific DCS and PLC systems then list them, however, if you have advanced knowledge of Scrabble, it probably isn’t going to do much for you in this position. Spoon feeding the reader applicable keywords can be a helpful element in being considered for your next career opportunity.
Scrabble is actually a fantastic segway into the final topic. While I stated that you shouldn’t put unnecessary keywords in specific positions, there is a section that is specifically included for things like, ‘love cooking,’ ‘black belt in Tang Soo Do,’ or ‘enjoy playing complicated board games with family’. At the end of your resume, there is a section for personal interests. This section is highly overlooked, but can be, if used properly, extremely beneficial in helping you get that next position. Case-in-point, I was recently working with a client searching for a talented engineer to be located in a plant in Vermont. I was told during one of our initial conversations that this location was perfect for people who love hiking and other outdoor activities. In fact, most of the people at that particular facility liked these types of activities. Knowing that you, as a potential candidate, also like these types of activities, helps your case dramatically. People like people with similar interests and traits. Remember, companies hire people first and skill sets second. Likability goes a long way. List your interests, as you think they apply. Like sugar in coffee, personal interests add a sweetness to you as a candidate.
Using these tips, you can take your resume from good to great. Like good, old-fashion, home cooking, hiring authorities will appreciate the details. Don’t be afraid to sprinkle a little bit of you onto your resume.