“How can that be true?” you ask. While I admit that I created the headline with the goal of capturing your attention, I urge you to hear me out. I will go out on a limb to say that a resume is like a first date. Whether you are currently in the dating game or your dating days are well behind you, the basics have remained the same over time. As you prepare to go out on a date, two things come into play:
1) the way you present yourself on the outside,
2) the way you interact with your partner.
1) Presentation: A neat, clean, pleasing appearance is all the rage in dating these days, I hear… Seriously, do you want to pick up a date in a crumpled blouse, with smeared lipstick, and with an unkempt appearance? I didn’t think so.
- In much the same way, a resume is a professional extension of yourself: the way you present and package your resume directly correlates to the hiring manager’s impression of you. Although you are obviously not dating the hiring manager (that is a whole different topic!), I urge you to pay close attention to the formatting, the use of font, size, and bolding, and the oh-so-very-important details.
- It’s important to remember that different online submission methods warrant different resume formats: Word, PDF, text, ASCII… Just like you risk an early ending to your date by showing up to a fancy restaurant in jeans or coming to the park in a cocktail dress, you risk not even getting to the hiring manager’s desk by not presenting your resume package in the right format.
2) Interaction, or the “meat” of your resume: Even more important than the packaging and formatting of a resume is the content. You can be dressed for the occasion, but if there is no meaningful conversation, no connection, then there is no second date.
- The content of your resume should be concise but detailed, targeted but relevant, and should be based around your accomplishments. You don’t think you have any accomplishments? Not true! Surely, you’ve saved the company money or time, attracted new clients, improved some process, worked on a vital project? Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn and let your achievements be known.
- In addition, most employers use Applicant Tracking Systems that are designed to kick your resume out. Do the hard work of wording your accomplishments around the desired keywords in such a way as to bust your resume through the ATS!
In closing, I urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that your resume is not like a “blind date” to the recruiter or the hiring manager. There are tons of networking opportunities out there, both formal and informal. If you are in the market for a new job, let everybody know! Reach out to your LinkedIn network, your former co-workers, your Facebook friends, your yoga classmates – everybody!
You never know where your next opportunity will come from, so you should treat every encounter and every contact as that potential opportunity. Experience has shown that your next job will most likely come from some personal connection or contact that you already have. Blind dates seldom end well, but dates based on similar backgrounds, interests, and goals often end up on a second and third date, and eventually a long-term relationship.