I’d like to welcome a new person to the blog in today’s guest post! Angela has nearly 10 years of human resources and non-profit administration. She has guided organizations in establishing policies that promote healthy and effective workplaces, which has included policy and by-laws writing, facilitating organizational mergers, and assisting with some start-up nonprofits. To back it all up, she has been a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) since 2008. A seasoned recruiter, she has led and served on several executive-level search committees and advises college students on job searching techniques. You can find her writing at A Working Evolution, DailyMuse.com, and Forbes.com. In her spare time, she dreams of running away to Paris to study pastry-making.
Sometimes, no matter how many blogs you read or how much thought you put into it, you still need a tangible example to really get a sense for something. With that in mind, Ashley let me use her resume as a guinea pig. We are hoping to use this as an opportunity to give you some insight into how a recruiter looks at a resume and what impressions are left.
My initial reaction from the resume was that Ashley is a professional. The resume was simple, clean and organized, and that in itself speaks volumes. The body of her resume used bullet points to highlight her accomplishments, as opposed to writing a paragraph. This makes it easier to read, easier to process and looks cleaner.
To break down my thoughts a bit more specifically:
Formatting. Because of Ashley’s extensive experience, I found the formatting to be a bit too simple. Some of her accomplishments were getting lost in a world of text. So I highlighted her most impressive accomplishments by drawing them out on their own.
Summary Statement. My problem with summary statements is that they are relied upon too often to convey skills that belong within the body of your resume. It’s not as bad as a functional resume, but the end result is the same: a vague set of skills without context. In Ashley’s case, there is also redundancy – she refers to public speaking, presentations, brand management and several other things in her summary statement, and they are also sprinkled throughout the body of the resume. I’d rather see these things strongly conveyed within the resume as opposed to skimmed over in a summary statement.
Employment. As I said above, this section confused me. It felt redundant and unnecessary. Ashley has already listed where she worked, and when she worked for them, so there is no use to having this all listed again.
Education. I love that Ashley included her current education on the resume, even though she hasn’t received her MBA yet. However, she highlighted the name of the school as more important than her degree by listing it first and making it bold. Where someone attended school is rarely of concern to me; what degree they received and what honors they earned while attending is always important, so make that stand out.
Activities. This is where I may differ from some of my colleagues. I know that some people will recommend that you include an “Activities” or “Interests” section on your resume, because it will give it a personal touch. I’m not one of them. When I’m looking at a resume, it’s completely business. The personal part comes in when you’re sitting in my office for an interview. A good alternative is to have a section called “Skills” or “Professional Accomplishments,” which I did in Ashley’s case.
Content. The actual body and substance of the resume was strong. Ashley used clear and compelling language. For the most part, she used strong action verbs to describe her experience and accomplishments. This is a great example of highlighting your accomplishments, as opposed to merely rehashing your job description. Instead of saying “Responsible for growing affiliate partnership,” Ashley wrote “Grew affiliate partnerships from 2 to over 50 within 8 months.” This tells the employer not only what Ashley was responsible for, but also that she was successful at it in a relatively short period of time.
Overall, Ashley’s resume was quite strong, and well-executed. Despite that, however, there were still things that I found that could be enhanced. I want to be clear that these are my opinions only – obviously I don’t speak for all recruiters and hiring managers, and my recommendations for resumes may differ from what others will think.
And that’s completely ok. The goal is to get you to start the conversation and look at your resume in a new light. You might conclude that your current resume is what works for you. But give it some thought, have someone else take a look at it, and make sure that it’s the best it can be.