Updated: Jul 23, 2021
When I ask clients for the purpose of a resume, they often say it’s to land the job they are applying for. This is true for both fresh and experienced professionals as well as non-PMET job seekers.
This is the time I get to explain to them that their resume is a tool to help them to land an interview with the hiring manager, not the job. The face-to-face or video interview session is the one that helps to clinch the job. But the resume is their personal marketing tool that would give the hiring manager a reason to even give you a call for an interview with him or her.
So I share with clients some of the basic elements of an effective resume that would help them get closer to clinching an interview with the hiring manager.
Start with your contact details. In latter days, job seekers included their home address, marital status and other personal information in their resume. Today, I see personal information such as the job seeker’s national identification number, marital status, race, nationality and a profile photograph included. These are unnecessary.
All the hiring company requires are your contact details such as your telephone number and email address. A LinkedIn link would be good if you have a LinkedIn account. If you’re unsure what to include in your LinkedIn Account, read this article.
One of the questions I am usually asked is if a photo is unnecessary. Unless you’re applying for frontline roles, there is no need to include your photograph. What should stand out in your resume are your core competencies or skill sets and your work experience. Photographs of yourself sometimes, if not often, lead to a certain bias in the hiring process.
Before delving into your work experience, write a professional summary of how your past work experience is relevant to the role you are applying for. This captures the attention of the hiring company especially if you use words that are also in the job posting.
In my experience, the professional summary is one area many job seekers struggle with. Some are unsure of what to write. So they write chunks of information on their job experience, even irrelevant ones. Some are unsure how to phrase their work experience in such a way that it is relevant to the role they are applying for. Many have gotten used to the traditional way of just stating their job description.
What you can do is look at the job description of the role you are applying for and relate in short phrases how you have done the same in the past as part of your own work experience.
For example, the advertisement states that the following are the job responsibilities of a Sales Associate:
Handle customer’s enquiries
Assist to coordinate order fulfillments
Your professional summary could look like this: Award-winning customer service associate handling enquiries on products and services. Effective in sales order fulfilment. Detailed order processing individual ensuring all entries are accurate before processing order. Oftentimes, exceeded customer’s expectations on order fulfilment delivery time.
Here’s another example. The following is an adaptation of an actual job advertisement:
Develop business opportunities, pipelines leading to sales closure
Meeting monthly sales targets
Identify and pursue prospects through various lead generated activities such as direct mailing, cold-calling and referral program
Meet with prospects to understand their needs, purchase decision makers, and decision making process
Prepares quotes leading to conclusion of sales
Proficient in engaging with existing customers
Diploma or Degree in any discipline
Minimum 1 year experience in direct outdoor selling
Passionate in engaging with and providing excellent service to customers
Good communication and presentation skills
Comfortable and committed to a 60% outdoor role
Your professional summary could look like this:
Target-focused sales professional with five years of experience as an outdoor senior sales executive in the telecommunication industry. Continuously met quarterly sales targets. Maintained relationship with existing customers leading to repeat purchases and referrals. Excellent listening skills that resulted in meeting customers current and future needs. Proficient presenter that resulted in customers understanding benefits of service before closing the deal.
If you haven’t already figured it out, the Professional Summary section of your resume needs to be customised for each role you are applying for. Some clients prefer to send out cookie cutter resumes but this is not ideal as it shows that little thought is put into your application process to meet the requirements of the hiring company.
In my next blog, I will continue with other elements of an effective resume including core competencies, career accomplishments and work experience.
As with all resumes and job applications, be truthful about work experience and accomplishments. Trust and integrity is hard to gain but very easily broken. Stay truthful.