October 27, 2020

Resume Writing 101

Cody Broussard

So you are ready to start your job search! It can be intimidating to begin the process of looking for a new, regardless of your reason. Perhaps you are coming back to the workforce after being home with your family, maybe you are a recent college graduate, or you’re feeling stuck in your current role, or part of a layoff and feeling forced into change. Whatever the circumstances, starting the application process is difficult, and since we review resumes regularly in this line of work, we are here to help you get the process started. It all starts with getting your resume ready.

Updating your resume. This one goes without saying, but to be clear, no one is underestimating how hard it can be. I look at resumes every day and help people fine tune their own, but when I sat down to write my own when I started the job search that ultimately brought me to J2T, my palms were sweaty. Talking about yourself and your achievements doesn't always come naturally, so here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Keep it succinct. No, the world will not end if your resume extends to a second page, but if a hiring manager is looking at resumes all day, they are often not able to pour over every detail, so the first page gets the most attention. Give the most relevant details prime real estate on the first page. Divide things up in easy to read bullets rather than text heavy paragraphs. There usually is not a need to go back further than the last ten years of your career.
  • Don’t rewrite your job description. I sometimes see resumes that are literally a copy and paste of a job description, other times its more of a comprehensive list of tasks. While you want to illustrate what you did on the job, it should read more as a list of accomplishments rather than duties. Otherwise how would one Staff Accountant stick out from the next? A hiring manager likely knows that you were working in the GL, but do they know you were a key member of a new software implementation? Use context and numbers to set yourself apart from other applicants.
  • Proofread and proofread again. An extra set of eyes is always a plus before you send a resume out. Maybe its your aunt who is a teacher, your peer who is in accounting or your brother who just really loves to point out the need for an Oxford Comma. More eyes give fresh perspective and spell check won’t catch everything. In college I worked as a cocktail waitress and once had a resume where I listed the fact that I worked“various shifts” and I left out the F in shifts. I was a Journalism major and had full confidence in my editing. Don’t make that mistake. More eyes are good.
  • Don’t worry a ton about the layout. Keep it clean and simple. Outside of Graphic Design professionals, too much on a resume can look busy. Avoid three different colors, make good use of white space, you don’t need your photo on your resume and Comic Sans is never a good idea.
  • Remember your resume is never done. Depending on the role you are applying for, there may be the need to add different details.As you start to apply for roles and research the companies you are applying to, you want to consider what problem this hire will solve. If you know the company merged with another organization and you have specific industry experience that is relevant it needs to be illustrated on your resume. Another organization may not need those details. Be flexible and consider your resume a work in progress that will require new tweaks depending on the role you are applying for and be ready to highlight what that hiring manager will want to hear.

Once you've made your edits and are happy with the final product, make sure your LinkedIn matches the new updates. You are now ready to get in front of your audience and start applying. In the upcoming weeks we will dive into the next steps of your search and go deeper into when and where to apply for jobs, visibility and networking, and how to engage with a trusted recruiter.