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Five Things to Consider When Writing Your Resume

Ah, the resume. The piece of paper that’s supposed to serve as your ticket into the job of your dreams. Or, at least, the job that’s going to put food on your table.

With a mindset like that, it’s no wonder that people put so much time into their resumes. Like, if I genuinely believed that buying ten lottery tickets a day would eventually guarantee me winning the lottery within ten years, I’d be at that gas station buying ten tickets a day, right?

It might seem like I’m stating that we should throw out the concept of a resume entirely, but I don’t think we’re there quite yet. Clearly, if I thought that, I wouldn’t have spent time this last weekend re-doing my own resume.

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Instead, I’m here to share with you what I think the value of resume is today. Leading by example, I’ll walk you through five things I kept in mind when crafting that resume you see above. Hopefully, this will help you craft your resume in a manner that I think is most suitable in 2019.

Let’s get into it!

Okay, this first idea is a bit lengthy, but stick with me because it’s important and feeds into every other tip in this post.

Consider the history of recruiting and technology. Without the modern advents of recruiting websites, algorithmic software, business social media sites like LinkedIn, and even just email, recruiters and applicants were bound to do everything by paper and phone. This doesn’t make for a very streamlined communication process. It wouldn’t make sense for an applicant to share just high level bits about themselves across multiple points in time because a) that would mean more paper and more trips to the applying office and b) that paper management would be a nightmare for recruiters.

What happened, then, was this idea of building a very robust resume. These resumes would often be 2–3 pages long and contain meticulous information about your skills and what you did for former employers. This would enable recruiters to comb through these resumes to find the best candidate through these robust resumes.

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s because this is largely how the applicant still views resumes. I know many business schools that still teach that this is the optimal model for a resume. Heck, this is how one former employer suggested I write my resume in 2012.

But this isn’t how the world works anymore. Not only do we have a bigger pool of candidates for white collar jobs, but we also have an ever decreasing attention span. With algorithmic software that helps recruiters filter through applications for the ideal candidate, do you really think they’re reading your 9-page novella about you?? I bet most recruiters barely scan the first page of your resume these days!

Consider this: you are selling you much the same way you would market a product. If you wanted to sell somebody on a product, would you come out of the gate showing every little feature and widget? No, you’d give them just the beats. Or, how I like to remember it, you’d give them an elevator speech. So again, I see the resume as the elevator speech of selling you. If they want to know more, then they’ll reach out to you or look for more of your work.

PHEW. Okay, I promise that the others aren’t this long, so with this foundation laid, let’s move onto the other tips.

If you read all the way through that last point, then this one should come as a no brainer to you. Ideally, I think you should get your resume down to a single page. (We’ll talk tactics for this down in the next tip.) But this doesn’t simply mean taking the second & third pages and throwing them in the trash. Instead, you need to find high level content that showcases you the best. This could mean…

  • Cutting down the number of bullets for each of your jobs in your “Experience” section
  • Cutting down the number of jobs listed in the “Experience” section (I personally list more jobs on my LinkedIn profile than I do my resume)
  • Leaving out traditional yet ambiguous sections like “Objective” (Because if your objective doesn’t directly state “Getting a job with your company”, you’re not being honest)

This will probably be the hardest activity for you to do if you’re converting from traditional resume to this more modern concept, but it’s one that’s absolutely necessary IMO.

You wouldn’t walk into a prospective customer’s office with a shoddy-looking demo of your product, so you shouldn’t send off a resume that looks poorly done. Folks, don’t misunderstand me here: content IS important, but it doesn’t mean much if it’s poorly packaged.

The two things I’d suggest to be mindful of here are content quality and design. With content quality, I’m talking about things like…

  • Spellchecking your work!
  • Consistent verb tense usage (Check out how I differentiate my verb usage between my current roles and former roles)
  • Consistency across similar data elements (e.g. using the same date format anywhere dates are mentioned)

And when it comes to design, I’ll suggest three avenues to pursue help here:

  • Find a graphic designer friend: Simply put, a graphic designer will help you best package your information in a presentable single page. This is the most optimal option as they will offer you the most flexibility in making your resume look the way you want it to.
  • Check out Enhancv: This is the option I used prior to learning graphic design skills. Enhancv offers users the ability to populate resume content into some nice looking pre-built templates. They aren’t free, but they’re still cheap enough that I can easily recommend them.
  • If all else fails, keep in mind these design tips: Truthfully, you have no reason one of the two options above won’t work out, but if for some reason you want to go it on your own, check out another post I wrote a while back about general design tips.

This one will probably come across as the most counterintuitive to many people because we’ve historically been taught to separate business from personal. I don’t agree with this, and I have two reasons why not.

First, personality is a factor that employers might not outright state is important, but let’s be honest: it’s undoubtedly an important factor! Nobody wants to work with a total jerk, even if they have the best credentials on the planet. Sharing some personal tidbits about yourself helps to bridge that gap between showing that not only do you have the skills for the job, but you’re also somebody who’s nice to work with.

The second idea comes from Naval Ravikant. In a recent interview I listened two, he mentioned that the three things you want to see out of a job candidate are “intelligence, high-energy, and integrity.” Intelligence on a resume comes in the form of experience & skills, but how do you display integrity? After all, you can note that a person is super intelligent, but how do you know they’re not going to rip you off in the end? By sharing some personal tidbits like places you volunteer, you display integrity in a way that isn’t captured by other traditional resume elements.

For many employers these days, talking the talk isn’t enough. They also want to see you walk the walk, and that means pointing to work that they can go look at to get a feel of how you execute things in real life. On my personal resume, you’ll see that I have my personal URL listed (dkhundley.com), and that points anybody back to my portfolio of blog work. Examples of things you could have here include…

  • Your GitHub if you are a coder
  • Your Behance if you are a graphic designer
  • Your WordPress / Medium / blog site for your personal blog

You might be asking yourself the question, “What if I don’t have a portfolio of work like this out there?” Transparently, I think that’s something you need to work on. And if you can’t share information from the company you work for, that’s okay because you can start a blog! (Seriously, I should write a whole other post on this, but essentially, you should do this regardless of anybody reading it because you can at least point to something you did. Period.)

And with that, friends, we come to the end of another post. I hope you walk away with some useful insights here! Trust me, I wish these were things that I would have learned five years ago, so hopefully this helps you “fast track” your way toward a better understanding of job hunting in 2019. We’ll see you in the next post!

Written by

Machine learning engineer by day, spiritual explorer by night.

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