The Perfect Resume (IMHO) pt.2 – Experience

7 03 2010

I apologize awesome folks.  Busy as always is never an excuse to neglect helping others.  So I’m back.  I’m here.  I’m yours.

You guys are craaaaaaaving this.  Based on the number of hits from part 1, I have decided to bring you part 2 to this series!  Let’s deep dive into the meat and potatoes of a resume.  The experience section. It’s one that gets a ton of variation in formatting and information, so let me help you understand how to start thinking about it better and organizing your story.

Here’s the thing about resumes.  A trained recruiter will probably only spend 30-60 seconds OR LESS reviewing yours before they make a decision about whether you should be passed on to interviews.

If you have 30 seconds to convince someone to give you a chance, you’re going to want to highlight your most important accomplishments in each role and prioritize these things as the first few bullets in your experience section.  Make sure that every word on the page is necessary and adds value to your story.  Even something as simple as dates in a role can show 1) commitment and tenure, 2) promotion rates, and 3) years of experience.  Because of this, it’s important to show both Month/Year that you started and ended each role.  Those little details and small changes can tell an employer a lot!

Let’s talk more about bullet points

If something’s not adding value, remove it or consolidate and demote it to the last bullet point!  Here are some questions you should answer in every bullet point under your experience section:

  • What did you improve in the company/role?  (Increased sales by 326%….)
  • What was amazing about this?  (…within one month…)
  • How did you do it?  (…by restructuring the sales incentive program to refocus on A, B, and C.)

What’s not included there?

  • I was amazing.
  • Fantastic.
  • Efficient.
  • Awesome.
  • Great.

Let the employer decide for themselves what is amazing, fantastic, and efficient.  You just state the facts about your contributions and what you did to elevate your past employer or role to the next level.

I also really dislike seeing 13481758 bullet points under each section.  Be concise – give 3-5 bullets that have more meaning.  When I see a resume with 3257109 bullets, I get frustrated.  Make it easy.  Synthesize your work by only including what matters.  We’ll interview you to uncover the other details on HOW you did it.

I love numbers!

Using numbers and metrics can also really help to show the speed, scope, volume, and impact that you have left behind.  Employers want to know that you have the basic analytical skills to measure the results of your work.  If you never tracked your work before, you should start!  No matter how well you do, nothing illustrates your achievements louder than numbers on a resume.

If your resume isn’t already formatted to consider these things I said above, revise it.  Then let me know if this changes how many call-backs you’re getting!





The Perfect Resume (IMHO) – pt. 1

16 10 2009

I’m starting a series called “The perfect resume”.  It will take me a bazillion years to figure this out for myself, as well, but I’ll put some tricks that worked for me (and for others).  Let’s start with the basics:

What is a resume?
It’s a simple, easy to read snapshot of facts that illustrate your past experiences, affiliations and credentials for a role.  Let’s call out the most important part for me here:  EASY TO READ.  An experienced recruiter spends a whole of about 30 seconds scanning your resume for facts about you.  So a resume cannot be a brick of text.  It cannot be a 913751875 page memoir.  It’s a simple statement of facts that you’ve collected on your experiences.  Leave it at that!

Resumes should be objective.
It doesn’t matter how many times you wrote “awesome” and “effective” and “brilliant” and “successfully” all over your resume.  It doesn’t count unless you have the facts to back it up.  If all the facts suggest awesomeness, then you are a winner!

Numbers are good.
Numbers are facts that can show you are a winner.  If you made something better, where are the numbers to show it?  For example, numbers, like a GPA, can show you are bright or that you apply yourself and work hard.  Numbers like a % increase in adoption rates or sales for the month help.  But don’t make them up.  Make the best estimate you can and if you’re really just lost, don’t put them at all.  Recruiters and smart interviewers can sniff out fake numbers.  Fake numbers smell kind of like sewage.  yucky.

Who should review your resume?
The more the merrier.  Find a few people you trust and have them look it over for you and give you pointers and feedback.  Have them only spend 30 seconds on your resume and see if they extrapolate everything you wanted to get across about your skills, experiences, and expertise.

No?  Revise it!

Resumes are hard to write, but check out this one from MajoringInCareers.com or alfreeresume.net (I don’t know what the original source is).

I think it’s an okay example, but what might you change about it?

I think it’s an okay example, but what might you change about it?





Walk in with more than your resume…

3 08 2009

When I was 20, I had the pleasure of doing an internship program called The University of Dreams. Now a wildly successful worldwide internship program, I’m so thankful for meeting people, like Eric Lochtefeld, who helped make me a better person and who introduced me to my first real job tips.

Eric called upon his friend Charles Caudill, a former VP of Production at CNN and now an independent consultant for Caudill Media Management, to come and talk to our Los Angeles Dreamer group about how to REALLY land a job.

His fantastic advice landed me my job at Google.

His fantastic advice landed me my job at Google.

Charles (paraphrasing here): Be bold. Find out the name of the VP or the CEO of a company and send them a really compelling, personalized email about why you’re amazing, why you respect the company, and offer to take them to lunch so you can learn more about them. You can almost always figure out their email address by doing a combination of firstname.lastname@company.com, or firstinitial.lastname@, or firstnamelastinitial@. Get creative and BCC the email addresses. One of them is bound to go through.

Once you get them out to lunch with you, ask them as many questions as you can.  The secret they don’t tell you is that executives want to talk about themselves, not about you.  You build the connection by showing an interest in their career paths.

So you know what?  I took Charlie’s advice.  I researched his website and when I got back to the Bay Area 4 months later, I sent him an email asking to take him to lunch.  We met at the BJ’s in Cupertino (right on Apple’s campus) and I picked his brain, paid for his lunch, and walked away with the most solid piece of advice I’ve ever received.

Me:  “I don’t get it… I worked so hard…” (shows him my resume of work)

Charles:  “Well, Stefanie, have you ever walked in with more than just your resume?  Everyone in the interview walks in with just their resume and the candidates start to blur together if you’ve been interviewing all day.  So how will you stand out?”

Me:  “hmmm….”

I went home that night and prepared for my interview with Google in a week or so.  I printed 400 pages (mild exaggeration, but it definitely was almost a ream of paper) of research on Google and built a portfolio that had examples of my skills and school work.  I even made a truncated version for my recruiter to keep to remember me.

It worked.  They interviewed many candidates and picked me.

To this day–I am so thankful to Charles Caudill and his willingness to help a lost, dreadfully unemployed college grad.  So I’m paying it forward.

Walk in with more than your resume.  Whether it’s a pair of dice, a rubix cube, or a portfolio, like me, go in there, separate yourself from the others and make then remember why you’re worth it.





Basics First: Building a Strong Resume

18 07 2009

Let me start off by saying two things.

  1. This is going to be hard work.
  2. But I’m here to help.  So read on…

There’s no such thing as the perfect resume.   Each employer and every role requires different skillsets and strenghts, so drafting a perfect resume is almost impossible.  However, there are some key things that you should do to make yourself stand out.

Make yourself desirable in 5 seconds or less.

Finding the right role is like dating.  You want to make yourself as desirable as possible at first glance and a well-written resume is the first glance.  Here’s how you can do this:

  • Show them you’re intelligent. If you’ve done well in school, provide a GPA and/or standardized test score on your resume.  Employers want to know that you’re smart and that you took school seriously.
  • Show them the impact you’ve made in past roles. Employers want to see how you’ve made an impact on your past employers.  Whether you worked at Pizza Hut or in a corporate office, what have you done to dramatically improve the business and what does that translate to in numbers, percentages, awards, or recognition?  Write it out in a “Situation, Action, Result” format.
    Improved a process:  Built an internal website to house work announcements, schedules, and contact info [Action], increasing communication efficiency [Result] between teammates with different work schedules [Situation].
    Improved customer experience (and brand):   Created social network platforms for the business [Action] creating a means of measuring our customer loyalty base [Situation] and increasing repeat customer base by 47% [Result].
    Saved the company money:   Reviewed and re-negotiated vendor contracts services [Action] to save the company $120,000 in annual expenses [Result].  (The implied situation is overspending.)
  • Show them you’re more than just work and school. What really makes you unique?  Are you a boy scout?  In a professional dance company?  The world’s 2nd Place Texas Hold’em Champion?  Show them how you started something, lead a group, project, movement, picked up a skill or hobby, or volunteered your time towards something that helps to shape your overall character.

Format to perfection (this part can be perfect).

Often times how you organize a resume reflects your natural abilities to organize your thoughts and put them on paper.  Put some thought into how you’re structuring your resume and if you’re using the right tools to make it easy to read.  Things to think about:

  • Font size –  Too small?  Too big?  They’re not going to read it!  Stick to a size 10-12 font.
  • Alignment – Do your dates line up?  Do your sections, subsections, and bullets line up?
  • Grammar – Make sure your content is grammatically correct.  If it’s a past project, all the text should be in past tense.  If it’s a current project, the text should be in present tense.  Notice that the Situation, Action, Result examples above are almost complete sentences without the subject (you)

Take these tips.  Format your resume and if you want me to take a look at it, shoot me an email with some context for your situation and your resume at awesome.and.unemployed (at) gmail.com.