Resume Rules - Yes or No?

In  April I will be facilitating a class for colleagues on resume rules, leading a discussion on which rules can be broken and which must never be breached.

I have to admit that I live a fairly conservative lifestyle, although my points of view are quite liberal. While I don't break a whole lot of societal rules, I have broken out of an overly regimented life with artistic expression, for example. I do bead embroidery of goddess figures and other non-traditional themes, and I have a half sleeve tattoo of colourful flowers symbolizing my ethnic Ukrainian background, further graced by a glorious Scottish thistle for my husband's heritage.

As for resumes, that's where I really bust out of rule-driven strategies and create authentic and strategic documents that are inspired, top to bottom, first word to last by the individual client. (A recent client asked if I have a stash of profiles that I draw from. Never, ever, in 10 years of service have I  copied or plagiarized from a past client or from a colleague's sample.)

I don't need to resort to "borrowing" from others - this is where that creative edge as well as a real love of stringing words together come in handy. The creativity is reserved not for "creative writing" (as in embellishment) but for creating an effective resume strategy.

Today's resume, taking its cue from the recruitment process, is ever evolving. A rule from 10 years ago may have made sense then, but used today it thwarts a job hunter's success rate.

You've heard the admonishment to "stand out"? At one time this meant using colour paper, fancy fonts, resume templates. Today each of these should be thrown out. Most employers no longer accept paper copies of resumes and the fancy font and templated resume potentially screw up a resume's score on the applicant tracking system (ATS), which is a key step of the recruitment process in about 70% of today's employers.

Ditto for the objective statement, which I continue to see on potential clients' existing resumes. It amazes me how that once ubiquitous, but long outdated resume intro hangs on. Did you know that the ATS are not even programmed to pick up an objective statement? No, rather they are looking for a summary or profile, which when well written answer the question "Why should we hire you for this position?"

There are only two rules that I stick to, without fail. I stick to truthful statements and I represent the client with authenticity. Truth refers to facts and figures and the authenticity to personality, motivation, working style, and so on.

Truth ensures that there is never a question of credibility or trustworthiness (grounds for future dismissal if found out).

And the authenticity contributes to each client more likely attracting a like-minded employer and a team that values what s/he brings to the team's dynamic. That in turn contributes to the job hunter's prospects for succeeding in his/her new position.

So how do New Leaf's clients stand out? There is no one answer. For some, I create additional documents that cover aspects of the client's work that would be cumbersome to capture in a 2-page resume. For others, I structure the resume in a unique, but ATS-friendly fashion. That's where my creative edge propels me to reconsider and reinvent, and leave the old rules in the past.

There's one more critical component to creating interview generating resumes: strategy. Without pulling in strategic details - results, accomplishments, recognition - the resume falls flat. It's boring and uninspired, rather than memorable and interesting.

As for resume rules? Be truthful and authentic, but be sure to stand out! If you need help with this, New Leaf is at your service.