Every process of looking for a new job begins with updating your resume. For most of us that have been with the same company for a while, updating our resume as we take on new responsibilities and move up the career ladder isn’t the first thing on our mind. If you’ve let that document fall by the way side, sitting down to update it can be a daunting task. However, it could also be a blessing. If you find yourself at a crossroads looking to make a jump into a different industry, this could give you a chance to start with the clean slate and formulate your resume with a new focus in mind. Here are five tips that will help you highlight applicable experience for the job you want.
1. State a clear objective. I know this may sound cliché, but unfortunately I’ve seen ‘objective statements’ gone wrong way too many times. You only get to put so many words on one page, so use them wisely. If the statement does not add any value, or communicate a point, don’t write it. The same rule applies to anything else you put on your resume.
There have also been an influx of less conventional resumes that don’t even list an objective. With that said, if you are going to write one, make sure it's congruent with the rest of your resume and clearly states what job you are looking to pursue. Too many times I've seen a resume which looks something like this: Pursuing an ‘art position’, while all experience on the resume is in ‘design’, but the role the applicant is applying for is a ‘game producer’. Confused? So am I. If you're looking to change career tracks, be sure to acknowledge this fact and shore up the reason why your experience is relevant to your new career goal. Which leads to the next point:
2. Shine the light on relevant experience. Once you have your mind set on your next ideal job, go back to the first position on your resume and focus on the things you learned and skills you obtained that would be relevant to the job you want. For example, if you were a Product Manager at a small company and wore many hats and are now looking to pursue a job in analytics, don’t shy away from listing any experience - no matter how small - that allowed you to gain exposure to the analytics field. If you've pulled data reports on your product’s performance, dealt with numbers on a day-to-day basis and understand what ARPU stands for, write about it.
3. Show evidence of growth. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what job you are applying for, every hiring manager wants to see a growth pattern on your resume. Try to pick at least one responsibility, or a project you have worked on from each of the new positions you held that shows scope and impact which was considered a step up from the previous role. No matter what level of the position you are seeking, it is important to show your ability to grow within the organization.
4. Focus on achievements. Your resume is your one shot to put your best foot forward, so make sure that it communicates your true potential. The best way to get that across is to focus on outlining your accomplishments and not just a list of tasks and responsibilities. While it is good to know that you have been entrusted with certain tasks, it doesn’t tell the hiring manager how well you have executed on them. Make sure to list at least two significant accomplishments for each of the positions you held. It could be projects that had high visibility, large scope and impact, or required an innovative approach. I personally find the STAR method very effective in describing accomplishments. It involves four steps: defining the Situation or a problem that you were faced with, identifying the key Task, describing the Action you took to accomplish it, and summarizing the end Result. For example if you just list the following task: ‘Responsible for rolling out a new Marketing Campaign’, it won’t be nearly as effective as saying: ‘Developed and rolled out a new marketing campaign to address a decreasing number of new monthly users in the game. Within two months of roll out the number of new monthly users had increased by 40%’. At the end of the day the hiring manager is focused on your ability to achieve the desired end result, so make sure you focus on the business impact of your work.
5. Tell a story. After you have finished updating your resume, make sure that it tells a story of where you started, what you have accomplished along the way, and where you want to go next. Remember that the hiring manager can only see what's written on the resume and needs to be able to make sense of it without having you there to walk them through it.
Do you have any more resume tips or tricks of your own? Let me know in the comments! And if you’re looking for tips on how to write a better cover letter, check out the first article in my Get Your Dream Job series here.