SOKY Jobs Toolbox: How to Write a Resume that Works

Christina33-(1-of-1)That resume you keep on file and update every time you get mad at your boss, trash it. I have a fool-proof method to creating a resume that will get you an interview every time. Have you ever felt like your resume was your entire life’s work on paper? If so, you are just like everyone else who’s doing it wrong. That’s right, I said everyone is doing it wrong. Let me explain…

For those of you who are or have ever filled the shoes of a human resources professional, you get my drift.  Once you spend hours on end scanning through resumes and throwing them in the garbage, you learn pretty quickly what a proper resume looks like.

As a matter of fact, according to the Western Kentucky University Center for Career and Professional Development, statistics show that the average review time of a resume is 30 seconds, and that is actually a best case scenario. More and more companies are turning to automated resume qualification software, as many as 40 percent of them according to WKU CCPD. This means that an actual person may never even see your resume. You must study the basic qualifications associated with the position you are applying for, as well as tailor your resume to fit the requirements.

It’s through my personal experience as well as countless discussions with Southern Kentucky human resource professionals that I have developed the SOKY Jobs 30 Second Resume Method.

First, stop thinking about yourself. This isn’t about you; it’s about them. Start every resume by first learning all you can about the company you’re applying to. Do your research, ask people you know, and thoroughly read the ad. They are telling you exactly what they want, so answer back. (If you’d like to go ahead and get started, you can download my template at the bottom of the page).

Begin with your current contact information. Make sure you are giving information that someone can actually use to contact you. If you haven’t checked your email in six months and, come to think of it, can’t actually remember your password, don’t put it on your resume. If you provide a phone number make sure it has an answering machine.  There is nothing more frustrating than when I call a job seeker, and they don’t have a voicemail box set up. That immediately says to me that this person is not really serious about getting a job. Put your name and correct contact information in the header of the document. This will help save space. You really should try to fit everything on one page if you can.

Do not use anything smaller than a 12-point font. It’s like cruel and unusual punishment to make someone read a 10-point font resume that’s four pages long. Also, don’t use fonts that are anything but boring. Times New Roman, Calibri, Tahoma, Arial, that’s where you live. Resumes are not supposed to be individualized and artistic, so stick with the basics.

Objective: Just scratch this one altogether. Everyone knows what the objective is: to land the position. This is simply a waste of time and space. Remember, We only have one page and 30 seconds.

Relevant Skill Profile:  This is key.  If you’re downloading my template you will see that I have actually included the word relevant in the headline. It forces you to ensure that the information you are including is applicable. It’s also a really nice gesture to the reader.  It’s like you’re saying, “For your convenience, I’ll just go ahead and sum it up for you. I am a solid candidate.”

If you cannot include four to six bullet points of relevant skills, YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED.  Have you ever waited on pins and needles for weeks, checking your email and looking at your phone constantly waiting for that call that never comes? Do yourself a favor. Don’t apply for jobs you aren’t qualified for.

Job History: For 30 second resume purposes, I am going to limit the jobs to three. There are certainly exceptions to this, but for most people three is just right. Include balanced information. Don’t list seven bullet points for your current job and three for the job you had four years ago. Be relevant. Rather than listing the first few things that come to mind, think of how the duties you performed in your previous jobs can be tied to the responsibilities you will be expected to manage in the position you’re applying for – even if on the surface they seem unrelated. For example: You worked in a fast food restaurant and are applying for a customer service representative position in a call center. Rather than writing, “I made hamburgers and took the people’s orders,” you can list that you have excellent attention to detail, the ability to multi-task, strong customer service skills, the ability to maintain quality assurance in a fast paced environment, as well as work well as a team. Be creative. Give it some thought. You’ll be glad you did.

Education:  Where does it go? At the top, at the bottom, do I list my GPA? In my opinion, it depends on the individual as well as the job. Often when education is abundant, work history is underwhelming. I believe, in this instance, you should list the education first. If your work history is especially lacking or non-existent, please download my 30 Second Student Resume template. This will reverse the amount of space dedicated to each section on the resume. The student resume focuses mostly on specific course work and areas of study and minimizes the need for work history.  You want to focus on your personal strengths.

This may seem strange, but on the template you will see that there is only space for one level of education. Remember we only have 30 seconds. If you have received any post-secondary education, listing your high school diploma or GED is irrelevant. As always, there are certainly several exceptions here, but for the most part listing one degree is usually sufficient. As far as listing your GPA, just use your brain. If you’re a 3.5 or higher and you want to list it, go for it. Anything below that is nothing to brag about, so leave it off.  Please Note: If there are specific certifications required you should list them in the Relevant Skill Profile.

References: No need to include them until later. More than likely no one is going to call your references until they think they want to hire you. However, you should definitely bring them with you to an interview.

Once I put a friend’s father down as a reference on my resume. I hadn’t really hung around their family for several years as I had moved away, and we’d grown apart after high school. The hiring manager called my references a few weeks later unbeknownst to me. Sometime after this I ran into the man. It was on this occasion that I learned why it is so important to call and inform your references that you have used their name.

He had received this call on a super busy day with a million things on his mind. When the lady said my name he couldn’t think, for the life of him, who I was. I bet that was an interesting conversation. Needless to say I did get the job, but only because he was nice enough to play it off for me. You have to call the people you list as a reference and let them know you’ve done so. Think about it. Why not give them the opportunity to plan on what they will say?

Last but certainly not least, and quite possibly most important of all … CHECK YOUR GRAMMAR & SPELLING. Spell check is highly flawed. It is 100 percent unreliable. Check it yourself thoroughly and when you think it’s perfect, check it again, and then call your mother. Have a friend check it, your neighbor, co-worker, anybody. There is no excuse for grammatical errors on a resume. I am not ashamed to say that I had to pay a copy editor to review this very article you are reading right now. Whatever it takes, just make it right.

Final thoughts: When the time came to make my final decision to start my own business, I like to joke that the deciding factor was that I would never again have to write a resume. If I’m honest it’s not completely a joke. Resumes are the worst. Don’t neglect the quality just because it isn’t easy. Ask someone for help and if you don’t know who to ask contact SOKY Jobs.

Most importantly know this: the same God who created the heavens and the earth created you. He loves you and has an incredible plan for your life.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we would walk in them. -Ephesians 2:10


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