I'm a hiring manager with a job description that clearly outlines the specifications of my job. And what do I receive from candidates, usually with no cover letter? A piece of paper that spews out useless information about a total stranger, in chronological order. Great. So, in my left hand is what I need. And in my right hand is a one, two or three-page pile of words, leaving me to figure out if they should be applying at all.
Given that the resume is all I have, I do the following: glance down the experience list, seeing if any companies are in my industry or on my target list to recruit from or high caliber companies at all. Then, I might look at titles to gauge level of experience. At this point, I will delete, toss, or put in a "maybe" pile.
I don't read objectives since they are one of two things: Written exactly for my position, so I know they are being tailored for each application, or, two, so general and squishy, this person has no focus. An example of #2: "Proven executive searching for an exciting position that leverages my strengths with people, technology and process." Huh?
What I do like at the top of the resume is an Executive Summary. A set of 10-12 skill sets that describe you, in two columns of short bullets. Net out the "so what" from your years of experience. LinkedIn is a great resource for identifying those skill words, assuming you have a 100% complete profile, which you need. Example, my bullet points might say: Global Sales Leader, Marketing Strategist, Strategic Planner, Team Builder, Channel Chief, Cross-Team Leader, etc.
There are many great resume-writing resources on the web...use them. Make it clean, easy-to-read, and error free.
Since there is no one right way to format a resume and I find ALL resumes a hard way to find my candidates, I recommend the following:
- Always do a cover letter. Even if the hiring manager doesn't read them, for those hiring managers that do, or IF all of the other candidates have one, you need one. DON'T regurgitate your resume in your cover letter. Study the job description and tell me, the reader, three reasons why you are the best candidate for my position.
- Make the 1-page cover letter the top page in your word or PDF file with your resume starting on page 2. This saves me from having to open multiple files in your attachment. Many sites only allow for one document, too.
- Use the same technique when sending a resume to a network executive. "Dear ____, thank you for offering to give me some advice as part of my job search. Attached is...
Candidates, always put yourself in the hiring manager's shoes and raise the quality bar. Cut the Crap, Get a Job! Best of luck!