The myth of the “right way to write a resume” – what you need to know

The myth of the “right way to write a resume” – what you need to know

The harsh truth is that there is no one “right” way to write a resume.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many ways NOT to write a resume.  And there are many ways that your resume can be written to help improve your chances of being selected by a recruiter from their pile, but there is no one “right way”.  Now that you know there is no one “right” way to write a resume, let’s go a little into why that is the case.

The reality is that the recruiter on the other end, reviewing your resume is in fact a person.   People come in all sorts of varieties.  That person may or may not be HR recruiting trained.  They may be new or very experienced.  They may know the role that they are filling very well, or might not.  They may even be having a good day or a bad day.  And an infinite number of other variations are the reason why a single write way doesn’t exist.  So what can we do?  Just apply to hundreds of postings anad hope that one sticks?  Sure, that’s one approach.  My recommendation would be to spend more time on fewer roles where each has a greater probability of success (quality not quantity).  The purpose of a resume is for comparing your experiences against those of all other applicants in order to short list the ones that the recruiter feels is the best fit to be interviewed.  With that in mind, you could almost say that the job of the resume screener is to find an excuse to say no.  With that in mind you need to make sure your resume is:

  • Make it high quality
    • Nothing makes it easier to say no to a resume than spelling and/or grammar errors
    • On a good day a screener might let one slide; on a bad day, your resume is going into the “No pile”
    • If you can’t spend 10 minutes to re-read your resume, then it tells the recruiter you didn’t really want the job
      • And if you’re not good at proof reading or have just read it too many time to be able to do a good job, then get 3 of your trusted friends to read it
  •  Make it consistent:
    • While the general format does not really matter but it should be logical and easy to read
    • But an inconsistency (something as simple as mis-aligned formatting) can give the screener a “messy” impression of your resume
    • If a screener sees 5 bullets and the third one is a little off, it is unnecessarily distracting for something that is not meaningful (did wouldn’t have taken very long to fix)
  • Make it impactful and relevant:
    • In our post for the One question your resume must answer you know that your resume must answer the “So What?” question that the screener is constantly asking themselves
    • Have the screener understand the value you would bring to the role and the organization: Accomplishments versus responsibilities is often undervalued and will differentiate you versus the competitors in the application pool
    • And really just want to keep you on the interview short list

So although there is no one right way to write a resume, these recommendations should form the foundations of your “right resume writing approach”.


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