At our May meeting, we were extremely fortunate to have Connie English from the CFA Institute provide insight into how resumes are used in the hiring process–and what both job seekers and employers can do to maximize the value of this marketing document.
— Kim Wilkens (@kimxtom) May 11, 2016
Let’s find out a bit more about Connie before we delve into her advice. Connie leads the global recruiting team at CFA Institute. Previously she ran the Alumni Career Services center at UVA’s Darden Graduate School of Business. As a career coach there for 14 years, she assisted over 2,000 MBA alumni in various aspects of career management and transition. She also taught Personal Career Assessment and Career Management in the MBA program, as well as an annual Career Transition Workshop for alumni and various specialized workshops including Re-entering the Workforce and Professional Image in the Age of Social Media.
Resumes: not just for job seekers
Resumes are marketing documents, almost like a long-form business card. They are a form of introduction, and since meeting people isn’t limited to job seekers, it makes sense to have and maintain one wherever you are in your career. For the same reason, you should be on LinkedIn, which is the modern equivalent of a phone book. If you aren’t listed, no one can call you! Indeed, many companies now treat LinkedIn profiles as resumes.
There are really only two steadfast rules: 1) Be honest and 2) Be error-free. After that, the rest is strategy. Think like an advertiser: who is my audience and what are their needs?
- Be relevant. Ask yourself: “What’s in it for me?” Who are the people you’re trying to appeal to and what’s in it for them?
- Show results. Hiring managers want to know what you’ve accomplished. Don’t say you are results-oriented. Show your results
- Be readable. On average, recruiters give a resume 23 seconds. So put the most important information up front. The most important place: the first line. After that: the first few words of bullet points.
- Keep dates on the right, as the left-hand side is your most valuable real estate.
- Don’t write in the first person
- Decide your formatting based on your audience: for some jobs, maybe you’re better off putting your company first. In other cases, maybe start with your role. Decide by looking at who is hiring, what their goals are. Ask yourself: what should be popping off the page?
Will the Resume Get Me the Job?
No–and it’s not supposed to. The resume is to get the phone call. The phone call is to get you the interview. And the interview gets you the job. That’s why it is super important for the resume to be tailored to the specific situation, whether that is a job or a promotion or a slot at a conference.
The specificity of purpose of a resume, i.e., that it is just an opening salvo, should free you to think like a marketer. Thing about Search Engine Optimization. What are the words that the recruiters are looking for? What are the 6 key terms? The great thing is: it’s usually not a mystery, as most recruiters put those things they are looking for in the job description. It’s your job to then put them in your resume.
Sometimes your transferable experience will be outside the workplace. Perhaps it comes from volunteer work. It’s okay to include it if it forwards the goal of getting your resume noticed (either by electronic or human eyes). On the other hand, if your outside-of-work experience isn’t relevant to the job, feel free to leave it off.
Check out the Darden Job Search Toolkit