Resume Rescue: Three Things You Don't Need to Worry About

Although there are plenty of things you DO need to worry about if you want an effective, interview-landing resume, one way to approach the issue is to look at it from the other side: what you DON'T need to worry about.

1. Length

Whether it's one page or five, depending on the situation, it may work. Rule of thumb is that if a person is reading it, shorter is best, and if an applicant tracking system (ATS)  is reviewing it, you can go longer than usual. (It's possible to have a shorter, ATS-friendly resume, but it takes training and skill. I've taken courses every year to stay on top of this topic, for example.)

Although ATS are programmed to search out key words and phrases, they aren't programmed to count pages. If you're writing your own, going longer is acceptable.

2. Pleasing Everyone

No resume will please each person involved in your job search/interview selection: recruiter, manager, or HR staff. Indeed, no piece of marketing is ever written with the expectation of pleasing every consumer, and the resume definitely is a (self) marketing piece.

Burger joints don't speak to the gourmand and your city's elite restaurant doesn't try to entice hungry folk looking for fast service and cheap prices. You have to know your audience and write to that audience's "buying motivators." This marketing terms refers to the needs that must be filled, the problems that need fixing, and the kind of credentials that can fill those requirements - knowledge, skills, experience, talents, etc.

One audience looks for creativity whereas another seeks someone who sticks to processes. Some positions demand acute attention to detail and others a big-picture vision. Know your audience.

If you're trying to please too many audiences you'll end up pleasing no one at all.

3. Special Effects

Fancy fonts, graphic design, colour, logos, and other touches of creativity on their own will NOT land you an interview. It's the resume's substance - content with context - that will reliably land an interview. If you've no gift for using graphic software, don't despair! It's obviously not a skillset you need in your job and the absence of design won't make one tiny bit of difference in whether or not you land an interview.

But your resume must have great content; that's guaranteed. If it doesn't convey that you can solve the problems inherent in the job description, if it's just a long list of skills with no correlation to how these skills saved time, money, reputation, or earned revenues and saved or gained clients, or how they met legislated requirements, followed procedures, avoided or prevented fines and losses - there are sooooo many ways to prove your worth as an employee - unless and until your resume articulates your value, no matter how fancy the layout, you're not landing an interview.

Three things not to worry about, but lots of scorecard items to meet if your resume is to perform and deliver. If you need assistance, New Leaf would love to be of service.


What the Experts Say: New Graduate Job Search Strategies

This blog is unusual for me as rather than share my thoughts in my words, I am posting comments made on a recent LinkedIn discussion. I agree with their points of view and know that every time I read or see a news story about new grads who cannot find a job in their field of studies, I think to myself "I wonder what this student's resume is like."

The question posed:

"My supervisor asked that I pose a question to professionals in the field who are university career counselors. That question is: How are you managing the overwhelming increase in student traffic and request for services (internship search, ATS assistance, resume & cover letter review, interview training, and career counseling) in light of tight (or cut) budgets and restricted hiring (unable to hire additional FTEs). What are you doing that has been helpful, successful?"

The overall takeaway:

Many colleges/universities are outsourcing some of the work (I edited some 150 cover letters and resumes for a major Canadian university), calling in experts to conduct workshops, and even referring students to private career practitioners.

The conversation turned to the value of well composed, well developed self-marketing documents, the resume and cover letter.

A few answers:

"As someone with 22 years' experience in higher education career services who now owns her own career consulting business, here's my (no doubt controversial) statement: In general, private practitioners can do the work better than those in college career services. We know the marketplace, understand the nuances of hiring, and have credentials and areas of expertise not usually held by those in higher education."

"These career documents are the most important career documents in 'their' life. They need to take their career more serious as there is a lot riding on the quality and how these documents are executed.

What is a bit dumbfounding to me in some cases is, the students have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of time in their education then leave their resume to chance by using a "template" or "cheap" services to communicate their value to an employer and wonder why they are not employed. (I am not saying that career centers are cheap. I am just stating a fact that they turn to 'cheap' and do not do any due diligence, waste tons of money, and when they are really in a pickle, they start getting serious.)

Investing in some of the 'top writer services' at $$,$$$ is still pennies on the dollar to not only what they have invested in for their education, but what they COULD BE MAKING if they were employed...and truly conveyed their value to the employer.

There ARE jobs available. Employers need talent. I believe experienced, credentialed writers, coaches, and strategists bridge that gap nicely."

I agree, there are jobs available and those with a professionally prepared self-marketing package reliably land interviews. I know my new grad clients do.