More advice on optimizing your resume.
Resume Recommendation #4: make your objective SPECIFIC to each company
I’m not a fan of the objective, as my students know well. It really doesn’t give me any useful information as a hiring manager, and most of the ones I see are ‘baloney’ (a technical term) anyway.
HOWEVER, if you simply cannot part with the warmed-over advice from the career services center at your college, at least take the time to write one that is relevant to the job to which you are applying. If I had a dollar for every resume I have received over the years that listed an irrelevant objective,… well you know how the rest of that saying goes.
Resume Recommendation #5: spelling, grammar and sentence structure are important
If you’re applying for a job that rises to the level of requiring a resume, you need to get it right. Ask someone (several someones, even) to review it; read it yourself multiple times, use spell check and read it AGAIN before you click SUBMIT.
Hiring can be a painful task for managers with multiple applicants and minimal extra time to review them. One of the EASIEST ways to thin that stack of resumes on the desk is to throw out the ones that read like a 5th grader wrote them, or worse.
Resume Recommendation #6: be evasive
This may sound counterintuitive, so let me explain.
As a professor, I often received resume and cover letter homework assignments that were peppered with extra-curricular activities like “Vice President of Hospitality for Zappa-Happa-Theta” (sorority name changed to protect someone,… probably me).
My standard advice to these young ladies is worth sharing again here. When you submit your resume, you don’t know who is going to read it. In other words, you have no idea the experience, belief system or pre-conceived notions of the person screening your information.
In the case of my students, and especially the ones with “Zappa-Happa-Theta” all over their resumes, I explained that the reception and perception of this information could go several ways and I used my sister and myself as two perfectly opposite examples.
My sister was a Delta Gamma in college. She enjoyed that experience and would assess the skills honed during a semester as the “Zappa-Happa-Theta” Hospitality Chairperson as positive and indicative of certain beneficial traits.
At the time my high school classmates were “Zappa-Happa-Theta-ing”, I was getting up at the crack of dawn and running in the US Navy-equivalent of combat boots. Therefore, I have a much different opinion of how much weight the “Zappa-Happa-Theta” entry should carry on a resume.
My point here is that when you submit that resume, you don’t know if “my sister” will be reviewing it, or if “I” will, and, all other things being equal, I’m going to put the Zappa-Happa-Theta resume in a much different position in the pile than my sister will.
Similarly, if you’re not applying for a position in a religious organization, you should probably keep your religious beliefs to yourself, off of your resume and out of your cover letter. If you’re not applying for a law enforcement position, it’s not a good idea to list your proficiency with handguns on your resume – it scares people (and yes, I have seen this and it was on a resume with a smattering of short-term jobs. Six months one place, 4 months somewhere else and periods without employment listed – like I said: scary!).
Getting past the H.R. screening and into the review pile of the hiring manager is a tough job, and takes careful attention to details and some not-so-common, common sense. Once there, you have to convince the hiring manager than you’re worth a closer look, so it becomes a balancing act of telling enough to get them interested, but not too much so that you risk turning them off for reasons you may never understand.
Hiring managers want someone who can do the job, can work and play well with others, has good hygiene (yes, this is an issue more than it should be), comes to work consistently, on time and every day that is not a pre-arranged vacation or a legitimate and reasonable sick day and generally does not create unnecessary drama or paperwork after being hired. Your job is to communicate that you “get this” through your resume, and cover letter.
It’s tough out there – don’t knock yourself out of the running before the competition even starts.