1. How long should my resume be?
Length and breadth of work experience will dictate that answer. Most of the resumes we write are two pages, with one-pagers primarily for new graduates and young adults, and three-pagers for those 55+ with scads of experience, Board memberships and quite simply a lifetime of successes. Let the content dictate the length, always taking care to make sure the writing is compelling and necessary to sell you into your next position.
2. How do I adapt my resume to each position without going crazy?
The short answer is you shouldn’t have to. A well-written resume should present you and all of your talents and experience with your target jobs in mind. Unless you are an underwater biologist who also wants to do taxes, your choice jobs shouldn’t differ all that much. Find your professional identity, sell that person in your resume, and then use the cover letter to bridge the differences and make the connections.
3. Should I apply for a job when I don’t meet all of the requirements?
Probably yes but sometimes no. While most of us tend to err on the side of not applying, there is that solid core of job seekers seemingly unafraid or possibly unaware of their deficiencies. If you have 1 of 10 requirements and are convinced you would be the perfect match, you are a golden circle member of the aforementioned team. For the remaining majority, the opposite is often the case. You have 9 of 10 requirements and decide you don’t have a chance. Keep in mind that job descriptions are often written from templates and manufactured in the recesses of the HR machine. If you find yourself wondering why this position would require a CPA or MA, confidently proceed by speaking to your years of equivalent experience and successes. The hiring manager will likely see through the deficiencies and jump at the chance to meet you. Avoid focusing too much on the generalities of the description, zero in on the implied pain and address that with your experience.
4. How do I get my resume through Applicant Tracking Systems?
We tell all of our resume clients to do one thing. Review target job descriptions and make note of repeated words, phrases and terminology. Unless you are the guy in number 2 with a split personality, you will begin to see patterns across the requirements, and it’s these elements that need to be in your resume. The ATS will be looking for the degree, the word “communication”, “month-end” or “Six Sigma”. Highly formatted resume can be rejected by an older ATS, so have a text-only version of your document at the ready.
5. Should I list my references on my resume?
No. Your references are proprietary information and should be handed out sparingly. By listing them on your resume you don’t know who’s seeing them or when somebody may be contacting them. By forcing employers to ask you for your references you are giving yourself insight into the progress of your application and allowing you to alert your references that they will likely get a call.
Stay tuned for our next installment and Part II of Getting Back to Basics…