For the last 20 years, including this year, I revise my resume every January. Am I looking for a job? No.
I own my own company, and it’s growing! I love what I do and have never been more fulfilled with the “job” I get to do. So why write a resume?
I do it for the benefit of self-review. Resumes, after all, are a compilation of what you have done, which I’ll talk about a little later below. Hopefully, I can reflect every year that I’ve done something new and reached fresh ground. Forcing myself to write that down annually has been a fruitful exercise every time.
And if you’re going to take the time to create a resume, go ahead and make it a winner. The question now though is…how do you do that?
At Vanderbloemen, we review thousands of candidates every week. Here’s what will cause your resume to stand out in the crowd.
1. To start with, have a resume.
In the work we do at Vanderbloemen, often our best candidates rarely have a resume. That’s a big mistake and may keep you off our radar. I don’t lead many searches anymore (I focus on leading our company). But recently, I was leading one of the largest searches in our company history. I wasn’t shocked when half of the finalists we found told me they didn’t have resumes, but I was disappointed. These were high functioning executives who have tremendous track records of growth and leading, but they didn’t have a resume.
I mentioned I redo my resume every year. And I own an executive search firm. So you do the math…shouldn’t you have a resume too?
What if you didn’t view your resume as a job application, and instead viewed it as an annual self-review?
What have you accomplished this year? There’s a discipline in doing your own annual review. Every year, sit down and do your own self-analysis. How should your resume be a reflection of your work and what you uniquely bring to the table?
2. Get on LinkedIn.
It sounds elementary, but many people don’t realize just how important this step is.
LinkedIn has become the ubiquitous resume bank for the work world. LinkedIn, in its prime as a company 17 years after its founding in 2003, has 433 million users, and has crossed the threshold of more than a billion dollars in revenue annually since 2016. It’s clear—everyone is there, and if you’re not, you should be.
A decade ago, C-suite candidates weren’t paying attention to what’s online. They were only dealing with phone calls. Now, try searching for a CEO on LinkedIn. You’d be shocked at who is regularly posting to their LinkedIn profiles, with Jack Welch, Jeffery Immelt, and Bill Gates among those whom you can follow for excellent thought leadership content.
As you build your LinkedIn profile, make sure it’s an (abbreviated) carbon copy of your resume. The more they match, the better.
Interestingly, that means executive search firms are more needed than ever. The old proposition of “I have a little black book” is dead. In fact, if you ever talk to a recruiter and they mention their “Rolodex,” run away. Yes, we have a huge database, but it’s not just a bank of resumes. It’s full of relationships.
3. Be sure to include graphics or links.
Photos are the new norm (as they are on LinkedIn). Old wisdom said don’t include pictures at all, but we’re now in a visual age of social media. New wisdom says a picture can be a nice addition to your resume, but it needs to be simple, high-quality, up to date, and fit the professional level of your arena of work.
Replace your glamour shot with a sharp-looking headshot. Size it correctly so you can send your resume easily electronically. And feel free to add some examples of your work or even a link to an online portfolio.
As a specialized executive search firm, we usually are only looking to fill top positions at Christian organizations. Even still, I read nearly every resume electronically. In fact, they are all stored in our massive online database in electronic format. So having links is essential to catching the eye of a recruiter or HR department.
Formatted for paper is a must, as people still love to hold a piece of paper. But having live (and correct!) links in your resume will help when it comes to making the lives of those navigating job searches easier.
4. Don’t hypothesize about the future.
“Objective: To get a great job”
Not a good idea. “Objective” might be the most un-needed and off-putting item I see on resumes. Tell me what you’ve done, not what you’d like to do. Replace “Objective” with “Proven executive with a track record of accomplishing measurable goals, overseeing creative projects, or leading a team well.”
The old adage is true: the best predictor of future performance is past performance.
5. Keep it short and sweet.
While you’re editing out the objective on your resume, also remember that when it comes to length, more is not necessarily better. You have only a minute or less of my attention when reading a resume. Keep it short and simple—find a balance between sharing experiences that make you a stand out candidate and highlighting a few key skills you bring to the table. Cut the rest of the pages of job history.
6. Don’t be too cute.
Simplicity is key. Extra pages, PowerPoint, undue graphics, and especially video clips are ridiculous. They take a long time to download, clog up the simple design of your resume, and leaves a lot of room for error. Again, more is not better; more is just more. Simplicity wins. Don’t try to be the “loud” resume that stands out in a crowd. Unless you’re a graphic designer looking to showcase specific skills for a role, keep your resume clean, well-organized, and simple.
So sit down and write your resume. You’ll find it helpful. It may make you pat yourself on the back for what you’ve done. It may give you a kick in the pants. But it will be helpful. Taking the time to self reflect each year with this resume exercise will help you approach your work—or your job search—with thoughtfulness and put you on top of the stack of resumes on the recruiter’s desk.