I was recently laid off from my job as Marketing Manager, and the first thing I did, after eating 10 litres of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream upon realizing I have to find a job, was look over my résumé. I spell résumé with the accents because:
- It’s the right way to spell it
- I live in Quebec so I have a French keyboard with all the accents
- It’s the right way to spell it
In any case, no matter how you spell it, writing a résumé/resumé/resume is a time-consuming, and often painful, process. I’ve been working in marketing for over 5 years now, and before that, I worked in administration for about 8 years. I vetted hundreds of résumés during that time, done phone and face-to-face interviews, I’ve hired people, I’ve even fired people, so you would think this would be an easy process that would take me a couple of hours. It took me two days.
Why? Because writing a résumé is not just about listing your education, experience and responsibilities. It is about marketing yourself and making sure you stand out among the competition. To be honest, my first tip would be to consider résumé writing services. They can write it from scratch or rework your existing CV to ensure its attractiveness to employers.
If you really want to write your own, then there are a few things you should know first.
Tip #1 – Do NOT use a template! There are a ton of sites offering templates for free, but there are also thousands upon thousands of people using these same templates and just “tweaking” it by adding in their personal information. You may think the chances of an employer receiving 2 nearly identical applications is slim, but I can tell you first hand, it happens. I can also tell you that I automatically discarded those 2 applicants. I don’t want to read generic résumés, I want to know what you can do and so do most employers searching for the perfect candidate.
Writing an original résumé is like writing a blog, except without the 12 loyal followers who leave comments about how beautiful, smart and incredibly talented you are. Ok, so it is exactly like writing a blog. You need to include the right keywords.
Tip #2 – Think about what an employer is looking for!! You may very well be loyal and hard-working, but those are not typically the words recruiters, hiring managers and employers look for. What are the keywords they are looking for? Read the job announcement. Done that? Good! Now do it again. What are the first criteria they ask for? Do they repeat, or emphasize, certain strengths, experience or skills? Those are the things you should be focusing on. Use those keywords when describing your responsibilities and accomplishments.
Ok, so you’ve read the ad, you’ve noted their desire for, let’s say, someone with management experience, and the repeated references to excellent communication skills. You believe you’re an excellent communicator and can even demonstrate examples where you talked your way out of a prison sentence, but you’ve never been in a management position, although you’ve been carrying your boss’ ass long enough to know you can do the job. Awesome! But you can’t say that. Or can you?
Tip #3 – Transferable skills and experiences are your friend! You may never have been hired as a manager BUT that doesn’t necessarily mean you never managed a project at your last job. Or maybe you were the team leader for a group project in school and received an excellent grade or you were a volunteer who organized a fundraising event. These experiences count! On their own, perhaps they don’t seem impressive enough, but combined with your work history and the keywords you’ve used to describe it, they can garner you the attention you are looking for.
I hear you, you know. Yes, it’s a gift I have – I hear blog people. You’re saying “Um, Nicky? What if the only thing I’ve led is a horse to water? Or what if this is my first job because my parents are finally kicking me out of their basement? I don’t have a great work history or a ton of transferable skills!! What do I do?!” Well, I’ll tell you what you shouldn’t do:
Tip #4 – Do NOT lie, exaggerate, or “take creative liberties” with your résumé!! Keep it real, because employers do check your references and they will find out if you’ve made stuff up. The key here is to be realistic in the jobs you are applying for. Whether you’re a student looking for your first job, a stay-at-home mom looking to get back into the work force, or you’re looking to change careers, try applying to job opportunities requiring less years of experience, less specialized knowledge and more competency-based elements. Then use Tips 2 & 3 to show how you have demonstrated those competencies in other situations.
Like I said, not an easy task, even for someone with experience! If you do decide to tackle it on your own, take your time, spell check regularly and then ask at least 2 people to read it over. My final bit of advice; unless your mom is an HR manager, don’t make her 1 of the 2 people. Ask people you trust, who have experience hiring people or who own their own businesses. Then ask them if they need a Marketing Manager. Thanks!