I spent yesterday primping. I did things like clean the house, paint my nails and bleached a piece of my hair after dying it purple last week. All of this was awesome and made it easy to start the week refreshed, I love a clean desk and relaxing helps you think.
I was noticing that although I was putting the work in, lately I haven’t been getting a lot of interviews and this morning I wanted to figure out why.
I went back to my resume to see if there was something there that was deterring my dream company from setting up an interview and what should I find?? A resume that definitely relayed my skills, but was so long, no one was reading it.
In the last few months, I was told by two separate people that I needed to “fix” my resume. This is after I spent months working on revamping my CV with all my new skills as a developer, and minimizing irrelevant skills.
The task was daunting and when it was done I never wanted to touch my CV again, and I actually didn’t ever touch it again, I was so traumatized from the process. That was in February.
The first person to tell me I needed to fix my resume attempted to explain that I should have a resume for each job I apply to. I had no idea what this meant and all I heard was that I needed to go through the hell of writing my CV for each and every job I apply to. WHAT?! No, not going to do it.
The second person to tell me I needed to fix my resume was last week and a connection to a dream job (still in the running) and this person said ‘your resume needs to be one page, no one in the group you are applying to will read this.’
I am not sure about what it was that the second person said that resonated with me, but I had an a-ha moment in which what the first person had told me months ago now made perfect sense.
What is all this “fix your resume”stuff?
When I heard the words “create a resume for each role you are applying to” I thought that was too much work. What was actually meant was that I needed to take my existing 4 page resume, that should never be sent to anyone, ever, and edit it to reflect tasks relevant to the role.
I know it is very hard for us 40-somethings to keep our lists of skills, roles and is essence our lives to a short 2 pages but it can be done and here is how I did it in 5 easy steps.
First- Get a very clear idea of the role you are applying to by re-reading the job description.
I know I have mentioned re-reading job descriptions and here it is again, but at the end of the day, this is really your only knowledge and introduction to the company and role that you are looking to apply for. So you want to make certain that you are really hearing what the problem is that the organization needs solving, and how you can help. That way it will be much easier to customize your CV to the role.
Second-Move jobs with tasks that are top priority to the organization to the top of your resume.
I say this a lot but things have changed immensely in the job search world since I was last on the hunt 8 years ago. It is no longer super important that your CV is in chronological order. Think of it this way. If you were the hiring manager and you are going through 30 CV’s a day and you don’t see any relevant job title, tasks or history to the role you are filling in the first few lines, are you going to read 4 more pages? What about 2? No, you are going to immediately throw it in the bin. Hiring folks don’t have time to hunt around your credentials to see where you might fit in.
Third-Remove or heavily edit any past jobs that have nothing to do with the role you are applying to.
This tip actually removed 1 entire page of my CV. I removed 2 past jobs entirely and edited the existing ones. They had been there all along because I was convinced that all the web developer roles I was applying for needed to know that I was an event planner once in case they needed me to plan a happy hour or holiday party, or that it would impress Apple that I went to Med School because they may need me to stop coding a super cool new product to diagnose the project manager’s recent cough.
Um, No. Hiring managers really don’t want to see that in a CV. They very well may want to hear about these things in an interview and actually these edits, and deletions can be used later as great talking points in interviews. Which brings me to-
Fourth- Remove your educational history entirely.
I had this great section in my resume that I thought was so clever that listed out all the courses I took to teach myself to code. They were complete with links and everything and they took up 1/2 a page in 10pt font. I had these on my CV because I wanted everyone to know that I was self-taught and how cool was that?! The only people that really care that I am self taught are my friends and other people like me. A hiring manager doesn’t necessarily care one way or another, unless it is relevant to the role.
*NOTE removing education from your CV does not apply to recent college grads or in very special cases for ex: when I was applying to work as a web developer for a tuberculosis website, I left my med school education on my CV so the organization could see my formal background was in healthcare. Leave your education on CV at your discretion but know that mine, as clever as I thought it was took up 1/2 a page of valuable real estate.
Fifth-Format and Bullet
Format, format, format. bullet, bullet, bullet. Again, let’s pretend we are the hiring manager, and you are on your 8th resume of the hour. This resume has center aligned text, left aligned text and indentation at every turn. There is a different font for headers, and a different size font for city and state, at this point I’m done reading because my eyes hurt. A hiring manager’s eye wants to skim your resume and see everything they need to know in simple format and bulleted. Here is an example of an easy to read formatted resume that I used to “fix” my resume today.
These 5 steps are how I updated my resume today, it took me a little less than an hour. I am now able to easily copy and paste the blocks of my resume that are relevant to a role into a new Google Doc each time I apply for a role and like magic, I have written a new CV for each job.
Did “fixing” my resume work? I decided to perform an experiment. After applying these 5 steps and creating a new CV, I gave it a test run and sent it, with a brief and awesomely crafted cover letter and
in less than an hour after I applied I got an email for my first interview in 6 days! I swear on tacos, this happened.
Try it out and tell me in the comments how it worked for you.