We’ve all been here: “My resume is as polished as my grandma’s silverware”, “I apply to job posts online every single day”, “I even answer to calls by recruitment agencies” yet somehow, disappointment never fails to knock on the door. Fortunately, with a few simple changes to our resumes, and by using new “reverse job boards” (last section of the article) our search can quickly become fruitful… here’s how:
Before the search
In anything we do, we automatically create expectations. Disappointment often follows due to a mismatch between our “ideal scenario” and reality. We somehow expect to be selected for the interview. We assume that our resume will be viewed, studied, and categorized: left pile or right pile. We expect a response to an application. If we do get a call, sometimes the job’s description has suddenly changed or the salary range has been floored. Or, maybe the shiny new technology stack that was listed initially is only used for one very small module.
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Expectations aren’t bad at all — they are very good and healthy when reasonable. The problem is the lack of communication of these important factors and personal requirements throughout the process. When agreeing to a work contract with terms that bother us from the start, we are much more likely to be back on the job market a year later. No one can guess what will make you happy in your next professional adventure. If these factors could be part of the resume or somehow expressed from the get-go, everyone involved could save an exceptional amount of time… Thankfully, we can leverage this.
Quick Wins for The Modern Resume
We grossly overestimate how long someone will read our resume. If the desired information can’t be extracted within a few blinks of the eye, the next, more organized document in the pile will end up stealing the spotlight.
We need to be clear about our objectives. Include things like expected salary, job type, location, and desired role(s). This may seem like a bold move but with our cards flat on the table, the offers will immediately start resembling a lot more to our dream job. These important details not only prepare the ground nicely for negotiating the terms, but they also prevent you and the employer from losing a great amount of time on important deal-breaking factors. We want to avoid any late surprises, especially after having been through rigorous interview processes.
Up next, is something I like to call the “skill snapshot”. Just like looking at a photograph, this section should gather all of our skills and their respective experience. Many HR and technical interviewers spend a tremendous amount of time extracting this information out of our resume’s various work experiences. Organizing it succinctly gives us a definite advantage. Focus on the skills you want to work with.
Instantly, we understand that this individual is a front-end or full-stack developer who has a penchant for React. While it may appear obvious or simple, performing this step greatly improves how fast our technical profile can be assessed.
Another important piece we often forget is showcasing our online presence. We have profiles everywhere: Medium accounts, Stack Overflow, Github repositories, personal websites, blogs, and the list goes on. These assets are very powerful. Many team leads or technical interviewers will take a look at these. Sharing a Github repository gives immense insight into your coding skills, style, and quality that a resume simply cannot translate.
If we’ve just completed a coding boot camp, are working on a project, or participating in open-source, let us show it to the world. Our other profiles bring in considerable value as well. They demonstrate our passion for what we do. They display qualities of teamwork, perseverance, and a glimpse into our personalities.
For the other more classic sections of our resumes: work experiences, education, etc., keep things concise. Often seen in work experience sections are responsibilities & tasks summaries filled with proprietary jargon: “Worked on the ATRM system of the company”. This might mean a great deal to people within that specific company but means absolutely nothing to people on the outside. Unless applying for a new role inside the same company, break down this jargon. Instead, keep things simple and result-driven. E.g:
“Improved X (feature/problem/business metric) by Y (result) doing Z (solution/improvement/task)”
This is one of the best ways to demonstrate your true value for the company based on your previous accomplishments.