What your resume template isn’t telling you

This is the time of year that I do a lot of résumé reviews, helping people get updated and polished for a new  year of job opportunities. Typically, women spend a lot of time choosing a résumé template, with the misconception that the format of their résumé is what will help them land their next job.

Résumé templates do a great job at helping us to create a visually appealing, organized resume, but what they don’t tell us is how to make the content of our résumé stand out against the competition. Luckily, WIT is here to help. Once you’ve picked out your favorite template, follow these résumé best practices to make sure your résumé gets put on the Yes pile:

  1. Keep it to 1-2 pages – It’s tempting to put every job you’ve ever had on your résumé, but the truth is that employers really only care about the past 5-10 years and the experience that is relevant to their position. If you run out of space, older jobs can be summarized in a one-liner such as, “Additional work experience includes Junior Programmer at The Jackson Organization and Webmaster at The Egoscue Method. Details available upon request.”
  2. Tailor your phrasing to the job posting – The first person who sees your résumé is usually a recruiter or HR representative, who isn’t necessarily an expert in your field. They are looking for specific keywords in your résumé to match keywords in the job description, so it’s important to make this process easy for them. If the job description calls for experience writing functional requirements, but your current company refers to those as technical requirements, change your résumé to match the vocabulary that the recruiter is looking for. Similarly, if the job description is looking for Agile experience, don’t count on the recruiter to know that SCRUM is an agile methodology — make sure you specifically use the word Agile in your résumé.
  3. Focus on accomplishments & outcomes – Your day to day tasks can be summarized in a one-liner job description, which then enables you to use valuable space to cover what you have accomplished in each role. Understanding the value you will bring to a company is far more about what you have accomplished than about how you accomplished it (the how can be covered in an interview once you have your foot in the door). Hiring managers want employees who will accomplish things, so make sure your résumé highlights how accomplished you are! Also, just like we mentioned above, tailor your accomplishments to the type of job that you’re applying to. Let’s say that you’re applying to both developer and manager jobs — your development résumé should list technical accomplishments, while your manager résumé will talk about how you doubled the size of your team and reduced staff turnover.

Looking for more? Feel free to check out my résumé, as well as an example of a woman changing careers. Also feel free to post questions about your unique circumstance below. We’re here to help!

Torrie Adams