Keep resume current, make it count

By Scott Sargis
Published In The Chicago Tribune
June 3, 2001

Since the slowdown in hiring is expected to continue, it is imperative to have a current and powerful resume. With all the inexpensive and easy-to-use word processing software that exists, there is no reason not to regularly update your resume.

As a rule of thumb, you want to update your resume every six months. If not much has changed at your job in that time; it may be a sign that it is time to move on to greener pastures.

My 15 years of executive search has pointed me to five caveats of resume writing.

First, do not spend a lot of time and money with resume writing services. It is better to produce it yourself. If you do so, it will give you fuel for your interview responses.

Second, put as many “numbers” as possible in your resume: for example, percentage changes in sales or revenues as a result of your efforts.

Try to keep your resume as quantitative as possible. That may be hard to do, but make your best guesstimates. Remember that the resume is an advertisement, not a legal brief. Therefore, you have a lot of latitude to present information. Do not lie, but for example, if you are a quality assurance director and you reduced defects from 50 percent to 30 or 35 percent, it’s OK to err on the lower side.

Third, tailor resume to the job at hand. I am amazed that with the multitude of word processing software that exists, candidates only have one version of their resume. It is very easy to modify your resume to a given job. This can be accomplished by adding some key facts and removing irrelevant ones from your resume. The change can mean the difference from obtaining or not obtaining your next job.

Fourth, check poor grammar, typos and syntax errors. These mistakes reflect very poorly on you. I have heard many hiring executives comment that “this candidate is probably not very thorough in his work because of all the errors on his resume.”

Remember that the resume is an advertisement for you, and if your first foray into a company is a sloppy one, you may not get a second chance. With spell check software on most word processing software, there is no excuse for sloppiness!

Finally, put your name on every page of the resume. I get hundreds of resume daily that have only a name on the first page. This is also true for most human resource and hiring managers. As a result, when resume get separated (and they do) pages get mixed with other candidates’ resume. If this happens, there is a very good chance that the hiring company representative will not see all your most pertinent information.

In this increasingly competitive job market, a poorly written resume will close the door on you. Take advantage of my tips and write a powerful one.