I’ve been in IT and Digital Recruiting for almost 20 years and for as long as I can remember–at least once a month–one of my friends asks me at a party: can you help me with my resume? Or, more frequently: I have a friend who is looking for a job—can you help them with their resume?
I used to say “yes.” Then I said “maybe”. And, for a time, I would pretend to see the grill catch on fire and make a quick exit. It was kind of awkward.
Nowadays, I give them frustrating, almost Zen-like answers to these requests such as: there is no universal format for a resume. Or, you never know; there is no accounting for taste. They frown and then—because the grill is not actually on fire—I have to stand there without an escape and finally offer: It’s not just about your resume, it’s about your “job seeking profile.” More specifically, the resume is now just really one piece of how a perspective employer “see you” before they make a decision to book an interview.
The Modern Resume
Finding a creative, tech, or marketing job can be incredibly stressful and I’ve seen people sit at the starting gate (writing the “perfect” resume) for way too long and then get overwhelmed by the entire process. People start to second guess, maybe even third-guess if there’s such a thing and then they stall. Getting overwhelmed by the whole process is normal, but I’ve found that if you look at it as a “job seeking profile” which packages and markets your personal brand, it can take away the pressure.
Yes, this includes your resume. But nowadays, most of the time, before an employer will set up an initial call or interview, they will also quickly look at your overall profile by checking out LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, and (sorry) they might even look at your Facebook profile. Get these all together and you will have an idea of your job seeking profile.
Modern Resume Tips
Start with your resume and ignore every rule you’ve heard prior to this because there is no universal format for a resume. It doesn’t necessarily matter how you write it, but underneath every job, you should make sure you outline the following:
- 1. What did you do?
- 2. How did you do it?
- 3. What were the results? Keep it simple and you should be fine (sorry “professional” resume writers, there’s not much more to it).
But you must also do the basics like check spelling and grammar several times (like, at least three times). In addition, look at each of the following and stay consistent:
- 1. Font.
- 2. Tense.
- 3. Syntax.
- 4. Overall “look”. Job seekers get into trouble when they switch tenses, get too creative with multiple font styles, use both incomplete and complete sentences in one particular segment, or insist on including a “hobbies” section (I guess tons of people like kayaking—who knew?). And, oh: did I mention to check spelling and grammar? Almost 50% of the resumes I see on a daily basis have some form of grammatical or typographical error.
Social Profile Best Practices
Next, you need to make sure your resume is aligned with your LinkedIn Profile (If you do not have a LinkedIn Profile, please sell your one-room cabin in the woods, orange sweatshirt and then continue with this article).
Your LinkedIn profile should have a chronology that is the same as your resume, use the same job titles, and have a “professional” (ahem) photo of yourself. Sorry I have to mention this, but there’s some general weirdness out there when it comes to interpretation of a professional photo for both sexes: people on boats, cartoon avatars, oddly cropped group photos and many more that I cannot mention. As an aside, my personal favorite is something I call the “James Bond.” That’s the guy in the tuxedo who is either looking for a job that comes with an Aston Martin and a license to kill or simply wants to let the world know he absolutely nailed Doug’s “best man” toast”? C’mon, a regular old suit and tie should work and besides, isn’t the world obsessed with “selfies” anyway? It shouldn’t be that hard to get a somewhat normal snapshot of yourself.
Google yourself. What did you find? I hope not a mug shot or an Amber Alert. If you have a warrant in several states, I can’t help you. But, most of the time, it’s generic information. But, you need to know what’s out there. This one is obvious in that you might not be able to change what’s out there, but at least you know what’s out there. Most likely, it will be a link to your LinkedIn Profile, maybe a bio on your company’s website, your Facebook site, etc. It’s important to know because it may become a discussion point in your initial interview.
Twitter, Facebook, Google+…Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest…
Finally, there’s Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media in which you delve. I feel bad writing this because again it’s fairly obvious. But the reality is, most employers will causally explore how you promote yourself on Social Media to a certain extent. Here again, we fall into the “Use Your Head” section of general advice. Google will help tremendously as you will see what the world sees in association with your name. Whether you are a part-time political activist on Twitter, or if you have chosen a Facebook Profile picture of yourself at the Cantina in San Juan drinking from a day-glow, plastic yard-glass, just make sure you have thoroughly checked your privacy settings and what the world sees. You can usually tweak these however you want; just double check to see what the public can see.
If you put these all together, it should give you a general sense of what perspective employers read, see, and generally “take in” before they decide to set up that interview. Hopefully, this should make the first step a little less daunting. Certainly take the necessary time on your resume; but, remember it’s just a piece of your now diverse (and growing) job seeking profile.
So, if you see me next to a grill at our next party, I will have this printed out and ready for you. Or who knows, I might just email you the link.
Author Name – Matt Niblock
Title – Branch Manager
Location – Washington, DC
Twitter – @CareerProfiles
Byline – Matt Niblock carries over 20 years experience in IT and Digital Recruiting and Staffing. Matt brings a creative side himself with the passion for Creative writing.