Seven Must-Include Items for Your Resume
You’re listing your accomplishments, not merely past positions
Resumes these days are supposed to hawk one thing: results, results, results. “I call them ‘sizzle points,’” says Ron Delfine, director of career services at Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College. “They should explain why an organization was better after you arrived.” Gone are the days when a resume gathered past job descriptions. You are a Sizzling Results Machine, with a resume that outlines all of your blazing accomplishments and their (huge!) impacts at each organization.
To skyrocket your chance of getting hired, the key is to customize with a few special details. “People want to just write their resume and send it out to 100 different companies and be done. It doesn’t work like that,” Delfine says. “It needs to be customized for a specific position, with details that are relevant. So it takes a little bit more work.” Here’s what to add to give your resume that winning sparkle:
Your e-portfolio. Yes, you should have one. “An e-portfolio can be just a website promoting yourself and your projects or work, or some other means of sharing relevant work,” says Esther Chewning, assistant dean of cooperative education at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business. “It gives an opportunity for immediate evaluation by a hiring manager, and I think this is extraordinarily valuable.”
Numbers, quantities, sums. Don’t write that you consolidated the operations team or overhauled the sales system. You decreased sales salary costs by $350,000 per year! You saved the company 144 person-hours per month! “Include specific dollars, percentages and numbers wherever possible,” says Sharon Patterson, chief human resources officer at career services firm LHH. “It will help differentiate you from your competition.”
Your LinkedIn profile. “Ninety percent of hiring managers will view your profile on LinkedIn, so make it easy for them to find you,” says Patterson. You lose points if an HR person needs to spend precious time sifting through dozens of people with your name on LinkedIn. Make sure to customize your LinkedIn URL so that it does not include a string of letters and numbers; instead, go for something like this: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jimsmith/
Your Habitat for Humanity habit. You do community service like it’s your job. “Companies like to see that because it shows that you care about your community and you give back,” says Seattle-based career consultant Robin Ryan, author of “60 Seconds and You’re Hired!” “Many companies have community service as part of their value system.” She especially recommends volunteer work for people with thin resumes, or those who need to demonstrate specific skills for a position, such as leadership or event planning.
Old internships. “If you did an internship in college or grad school, keep putting that on your resume,” says John Nunley, a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin, whose work has shown that internship experience results in more callbacks many years later. “If you think, ‘Oh gosh, that was five years ago, so I’m not going to put that down,’ that would be a mistake,” he says
Piles of certificates from sites like Udemy, Coursera, Udacity or LinkedIn Learning. Who isn’t impressed by someone who devotes a dozen hours a month to upskilling? You can’t go wrong with expanding your horizons with professional education of any sort. “List any kind of courses you’ve done to refresh your skills,” says Ryan, particularly certification programs. Check your local library; many have free access to professional education sites.
Creative job titles. A secret: Most people, including hiring managers, have no idea what workers do all day. So help ’em out and explain. Was your last gig Engineer III? Or Senior consultant? Or Writer-at-Large? Those titles are meaningless, so it’s OK to take the liberty of creating flattering—and, ahem, accurate—titles for yourself that clarify what you did, Ryan says. Examples: Senior Software Engineer for Device Testing, or Environmental Consultant to Small Business Clients, or Bi-Weekly Career Columnist. Descriptive, clear, short.
To learn about what not to put on your resume, read my column.
And best of luck out there.