I’ve changed jobs several times in my life, so I’ve written more than my share of resumes.
In retrospect, I’m pretty lucky to have landed the jobs I’ve had, since what I sent employers was more of a work history than a true resume. A resume is much more than a work history or list of duties performed. In fact, you can think of a resume as an advertisement for the job seeker, intended to encourage a hiring manager to reach out to schedule an interview.
Resume styles have changed over the years. The modern resume still showcases a job seeker’s background and skills, but gone are the days of one resume fits all. Today, businesses expect you to write a resume just for them. A potential employer wants to know what you bring, and how and why you fit the vacant position in their organization.
That said, job seekers should tailor and target their resume for every job they chase. Content should correspond to the job description and include accomplishments rather than a list of work duties, and outline accomplishments in measurable terms, if possible. Explain how you helped a prior employer save X amount of money, grow revenue by X% or improve a process using the STAR technique: situation or task, action(s) and result(s). By telling a good story, you will demonstrate your value to a potential employer.
Today, most resumes are submitted online and are reviewed by applicant tracking systems. The systems use algorithms to scan resumes according to key words and titles used in a job description. Only those deemed the best fit for a position are passed on for review by a real person. Targeted resumes must include the words, phrases, job titles, skills and/or credentials listed in the job description for the desired position. You want a human being to look at your resume.
Modern resumes are brief and relevant. Avoid putting an objective statement at the top. Objective statements tell a business what a job seeker wants, not what he or she is capable of offering an employer. Try including a few statements summarizing your skills and experience instead. Likewise, there is no need to say “references available upon request” at the bottom. Employers know you will provide references if they ask and you really want the job.
When explaining your employment history, present the information in reverse chronological order with the most current position first. Use present tense for a current job, and past tense for all positions you’ve left.
Finally, beware of using too many bullet points. Bullet points are meant to draw attention to important achievements. If everything is bulleted, then nothing stands out. Use simple formatting with a modern font and plenty of white space so it’s easy to read, and try to keep it to no more than two pages. According to a 2017 article on LinkedIn, “Employers only spend about six seconds reading a resume.” (Six seconds!) The resume is intended to get you an interview where you can explain how your prior experience and skills transfer to the desired job
I didn’t learn how to write a resume in high school, nor at the private university that I attended. I learned about resumes at WorkSource, a center that brings together government, education and community organizations to provide free assistance to job seekers and employers. WorkSource offers no-cost resume classes and review.
WorkSource Yakima County is at 1205 Ahtanum Ridge Drive in Union Gap. The office is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.