About a year ago I read an article in e-Week entitled 10 Ways to Tweak Your Tech Résumé. A more appropriate title would have been How to Slow Down Your Job Search. Although the article make a few good points. I found some of the tips so contrary to what I know works for project managers and other professionals seeking new opportunities that I posted a response on e-Week. With the current unemployment rate holding at 5.5%, I thought it would be worth updating and reprinting my response to e-Week:
The quality of your résumé can have a direct impact the length of your job search. Therefore, the following is a list of effective strategies, used by certified professional writers, worldwide:
- To maximize the effectiveness of key words use both the acronym and full spelling of the phrase. For example, ERP ( Enterprise Reporting Programs)
- The format of your resume can either reflect favorably or negatively on you. To give your resume a profession al look use a 0.7″ margin all the way around. set the point size for your name at 16 point, content at 11 or 12 point and heading at 12 to 14 point. Be sure to balance the white space in proportion to content – generally I use about 80% content / 20% white space. Check out Pat Criscito’s “Designing the Perfect Resume” for more ideas on layout and design.
- Accomplishments are the heart and soul of an effectively written resume. While hiring managers are interested in knowledge and skills, it is more important interested to demonstrate how you have used these talents. Instead of writing “Used Java to implement a redesign” try “Increased Web Traffic, tenfold, with implementation of site redesign.
- When composing your resume keep in mind it may reviewed by a member of the Human Resource Department or a hiring manager who has limited technical knowledge. Therefore avoid having your resume sound overly technical as it may intimidate and confuse readers. Instead create a section that clearly defines the technologies you have worked with.
- Cover Letters are IMPORTANT! Not including one is like arriving empty handed to a dinner party. Cover letters can point hiring managers to specific areas of the resume. The following excerpt is from the cover letter of a Project Manager seeking a director level opportunity:
My track record, which is outlined in the enclosed résumé, fully demonstrates my ability to achieve desirable results. In addition to uniting a disconnected organization I have built a supply chain management system which consolidated purchasing processes for buyers worldwide.
- Writing a top-notch resume takes time and effort. Give considerable thought to what questions hiring managers want answered. Your résumé should answer such key questions as: what have you done to meet the target completion date. reduce life cycles, prevent / mitigate scope creep or risk, salvage failing projects, cut project costs, and drive performance?
- In the early 90′s technology grew at a breakneck pace, causing the war for any talent. Today, the war is for the best talent. The most successful candidates have found that defining their personal brand has helped distinguish them for the competition. The following three questions will help to define your personal brand:
- What do I stand for?
- What am I best known for?
- What distinguishes me from the competition?
Resumes are like technical projects, some are easier than others. You can get off to a good start by simply jotting down your greatest accomplishments and the skills and responsibilities you enjoy the most. If there is something that you are experienced with but dislike doing you can either leave it off your resume or place it further down in your list of experience. If you get stuck in the process, seek a colleague, friend, or professional to help you. A poorly written resume can seriously slow down your search while a professionally laid out and written document can significantly cut your time.