Career Changer Resume Template - Recruiter Tips
Ringo Nishioka is a cofounder of Career Tracker and has over two decades of hiring and recruiting experience. These are his resume tips. Check out the Career Tracker Blog for more resume tips.
Check out the Career Tracker Blog for more resume tips.
It’s a new era with new technology and new hiring methods. Our application methods will keep you ahead of the game.
Depending on the last time you looked for a job, a lot has changed in the last few years. We have a different generation of recruiters and hiring managers and their hiring methodologies are vastly different from a decade ago. Your resume needs to look like it was created by someone with a few years of experience in the modern age. If it doesn’t have a certain “look” or presentation layer, you are not going to generate an offer worthy of your skills and experience. Remember, when we were early in our career, we didn’t know what a great resume should look like. With a few years of experience under our belts, there is an expectation that the right candidate will know what their resume should look like.
Career Tracker will help you avoid the traps that candidates make when they haven’t searched for a job in a number of years.
- Trap 1: We don’t list our physical address on the resume anymore. Companies aren’t going to send us anything in this day and age of email. In addition to this, your address can be used against you if you live too far away from the company of interest. Hiring managers don’t want to worry about your commute or if you will make it into the office on a snow day. Hyperlinks to social media are the new physical address.
- Trap 2: Our parents always told us to not share our desired salary with the recruiter or hiring manager until the job was about to be offered. Believe it or not, this has changed and if you don’t share your desired salary in the first interview, you probably won’t be invited back.
Yes, things have changed. Recruiters and hiring managers want to know your desired salary because they want to know if it is worth both your time and theirs to bring you back for further interviews. If the budget on the job is $50K and you are looking for $60K, the recruiter knows that the company isn’t able to afford you and we would just be wasting your time. The job is probably junior to your skill set and you will be bored. We need to answer this question.
Unless you have been mentored by a professional recruiter, we want you to throw out everything you think you know or learned about professional resume writing. There are a lot of coaches out there, but before you pay for help by the hour, we encourage you to review how current their experience is. They may have the title of a career counselor or resume coach, but did they actually hire hundreds of employees and decline thousands more? Was their experience gained in the era of technology, online applications or websites dedicated to careers and job searches?
Why the Career Tracker resume works for Career Changing candidates
As a candidate who is switching careers, you have a number of qualities going for you.
- As a candidate that is switching career, you probably have the most recent and modern training available as opposed to someone who has been working in the same role for the past number of years. Hiring companies appreciate that you are a constant learner and hungry for knowledge. If you weren’t a constant learner, you wouldn’t have switched careers.
- You have real world job experience, so you are more realistic about what you want out of life and what you are able to achieve. Right out of college, we didn’t know what way was up. Now, we have insight into what companies expect and this removes a lot of the training time and the learning curve. You have direction and companies want to hire candidates with a specific purpose.
The way you are going to stand out as a candidate is to adapt and customize your resume for each new job posting. This way we can maximize our chances to match all the qualities the hiring manager is looking for. A vast majority of candidates use a single resume to apply for all jobs. A single resume is a good starting point. Because all jobs are different, one resume isn’t going to be a solid match for all of the jobs we apply to in the various industries. We aren’t going to re-create the resume from scratch for each application. We are going to automate the customization of your resume to match the job.
In addition to customizing your resume, we are going to do two things as it relates to your resume. If you were in marketing and want to move to writing code:
- Evangelize and market anything in our past experience that is related to the new job of interest in the new field. We are going to list how we partnered with technical departments, how we may have kept statistics or worked with marketing software.
- Minimize anything that is not related to the new position of interest. Avoid mentioning accomplishments about writing ads for products, organizing conferences or ordering marketing materials.
Header Section Tips
The most important section of your resume
Professional recruiters know that the most important section of your resume is the top half of the first page. When they craft their own personal resume, they take full advantage of this important section. Think of this section as “above the fold”. This is the section of your resume that the reader will see first on their monitor or laptop screen. This section is your first impression. This section needs to pack a punch to separate you from the chaff. With this section, we have the opportunity to set the tone for the entire resume put the reader into the mindset that you are the right candidate. We want to effectively convey as much high-level information as we can in as little time as possible. For this reason, information here must be relevant to the job description and succinct.
Career Tracker explains step by step how to maximize the top half of the first page. We then go on to explain how to write your entire document for each stage of the resume review. The top 1/2 of the first page of your resume is critical to establish in the readers mind that you are a viable candidate.
Key Takeaway: As a Career Changer, the top 1/2 of the first page of your resume is critical. This is the section that will put the reader in the mindset that you the right candidate.
This is a secret that only professional recruiters understand. If you have a name that is hard to pronounce or spell, adding a mainstream “nickname” will make it easier for hiring companies to call you. If the recruiter doesn’t know how to pronounce your name or has questions about your name, John Doe, will receive the call. My name is Takahashi Nishioka, but on my resume, I go by Takahashi “Joey” Nishioka or Joey Nishioka.
Key Takeaway: Play the game and maximize your chances. Your name and its implications will make a difference. If the recruiter has is trying to figure out how to say Takahashi Nishioka and is also reviewing Johnny Smith’s resume, guess who has a higher probability of getting the call.
If you have an advanced degree or designation that is relevant to the desired job, list it after your name at the top of your professional resume. Professional recruiters know that the most important section of your resume is the top half of the first page. When they craft their resume, they take full advantage of this important section. A Masters, Doctorate, CPA, CPCU, MCSE, will all identify you as a qualifier within the first-millisecond of looking at your resume. This is especially true when your designation is a preferred or required qualification.
John Smith, MBA
If your designation is not related to the position you are applying for, list your designation in the Education section. For example, if you are applying for a position working on computers, do not list your CPA at the top of the resume. When we list the CPA, we are reinforcing that we still identify as a CPA and not as the position of interest.
If you have an advanced degree and are applying for a position that does not require an advanced degree, list your degree(s) in the education section at the bottom. This makes sense as it is assumed that the advanced degree was related to your prior job.
Key Takeaway: Designations can immediately put the reader in the right frame of mind, or they can turn them off towards the rest of the document.
A professional recruiter will add the title of the position they are applying for as part of your contact information. This is our first opportunity to put the reader into the mindset that you are who they are looking for. Even if you don’t have the experience and are trying to break into the field, list the desired title here so that there is no confusion what position you are applying for.
Your email should be a contemporary email service provider. Gmail is preferred. In fact, just create a Gmail account for your job hunt. You don’t have to share it with your network. Yahoo, AOL, Comcast or anything that was cool in the late 90s indicates that you are not current. Your college email address is acceptable for recent graduates and current students only.
A professional recruiter will avoid emails that hint to innuendo or anything potentially immature. We are going to be hired for a real job where there is real responsibility. Recruiters don’t want to reach out to a HotBod95@gmail.com.
Try to use an email with a standard format like FirstName.LastName@gmail.com. Avoid using your birth year as this can be used to assume age. We want to be hired or declined based on our qualifications. We also like email like JohnnySmithAccountant1@gmail.com
Website / LinkedIn / Github / Etc
Professional recruiters know that hyperlinks to social media replaces the physical address. Show off your accomplishments, side projects, portfolio and code samples by linking your LinkedIn, GitHub, or personal website. You want to make it as easy as possible for the reader to become more engaged with you. Making it easy to view your picture, your code, and your work will create a higher level of engagement. If your website or portfolio is not related to the position, list this information at the end of the resume under “Personal Interests”. Here, we break down professionalizing your LinkedIn URL.
Avoid including your physical address. Companies no longer send literature or confirmation notes to candidates anymore. Furthermore, your address can only be used against your candidacy. If you are applying for a position out of state or in an area where there will be a long commute, we make it easy for the hiring manager to review a local candidate. Hiring managers don’t want complications so we want to make it easy.
Key Takeaway: Links are the new contact information. Include them and ditch the physical address.
Summary Section Tips
Section Title that appears on your Resume
Titles such as Professional Summary, Summary, Qualifications are appropriate for this section. This “Section Title” will introduce your 2-3 sentence summary of who you are professionally. Additionally, you can list your industry. So if you are a Project Manager, it would be appropriate to list “Project Manager Leader” in this section.
Need help with your Summary Statement?
Remember, your resume will only receive 2-3 initial seconds of eyeball time, so you want to maximize every second. Only when you pass this initial test, will your resume will receive more eyeball time. It is critical to understand that at this stage resumes are not read line by line. Professional recruiters will write their summary for a skimming reader and only deliver what the reader is looking for so limit your professional summary to just 2-3 sentences.
Professional recruiters will write their summary for a skimming reader and only deliver what the reader is looking. Recruiters limit their professional summary to just 2-3 sentences. Only when you pass this initial test, will your resume will receive more eyeball time. It is critical to understand that at this stage resumes are not read line by line. We need to write this for a reader that will intentionally skim your document. This is why we limit your professional summary to just 2-3 sentences.
The goal here is to position yourself as someone that answers the summary section and the first few bullets of the job description. The first few bullets are the qualities that really matter. If we can quickly and clearly match these first few bullets, we will get a free extra play AKA, more eyeball time on our resume. This should not be an all-encompassing description of your skills.
Don’t worry, a professional recruiter can gleam a lot of information in 2-3 seconds. Frankly, because so many resumes are not focused on the job description, the few that are, really stick out. It’s not that a recruiter can read an entire resume in 2-3 seconds. A professional recruiter can tell that a candidate is not a fit in 2 seconds. The key to this section and what will set the tone for the entire resume is simply stating you are the person the hiring manager is looking for. Career Tracker has observed three common trends on the resume of a Career Changing candidate.
- Candidates recycle the resume used to land their prior job by just adding the most recent experience to a resume heavy with unrelated prior experience.
- This resume will sometimes have an “Objective Statement” listed at the top of the resume. We don’t feel any resume should include an Objective Statement, but when we have experience, we avoid this messaging.
- Candidates who are changing career become self-conscious and feel like they need to take a step back in their career. Career Changing candidates can sometimes feel the need to apply for entry level positions in the new field of interest. There are usually many applicable skills that can be transferred to the new field.
When a recruiter writes their resume, they won’t use an Objective Statement. We like Professional Summary Statements over Objective Statements. They can convey the same message, without negotiating against ourselves. Professional Summary Statements simply explain who we are. An Objective is something we are striving for.
Even if the recruiter has little related experience because of a career change, they make use of a Professional Summary Statements which starts with “I am a Program Manager. . .”
Objective statements contain the language: “I hope to become Program Manager...”, “My goal is to join a company as a Program Manager...”, or “My goal is to build on my prior experience...“
Who vs. “Hope to be”
The Professional Summary statement declares who the candidate is. It doesn't betray a lack of qualifications by stating what the candidate hopes to become.
The "Hope to be" version from an entry-level candidate applying for an Accountant role might read:
“I am a junior accountant with experience in Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable. (1) I hope to find a position that will allow me to apply my technical abilities. (2) I am a hard worker.
- Makes a statement that the candidate "is a Junior developer". They are "trying to be an accountant" vs. "They are an accountant".
- “Hard worker” is the candidate’s opinion and not the managers who may have a completely different measuring scale. This is not our call; this is the manager's call.
Here is second example of a candidate who positions themselves as “I hope to become”:
“I am (1) looking for a position where I can use my skills and background in XYZ where (2) I can grow my career. I am a (3) hard worker that functions well on teams and as an individual contributor.”
This format puts the recruiter into a very specific frame of mind towards the candidate.
- You are (1) "Looking for", which implies that you are "not already" a qualified candidate. It is a subtle difference, but remember, this is the first sentence that is being read because it is at the top of your resume. We are trying to build momentum! We can improve this sentence by writing it as an "I am a. . . " vs. "I am looking for. . . “When we start the Summary statement with "I am", there is less of an implication that the company doesn't have to spend their time and resources training you up as long or as in-depth.
- This candidate isn’t really offering services. These statements are all about the candidate. This candidate is stating what is in it for them. “where I can grow my career” is a selfish statement which doesn't prove to the hiring company why the candidate is desirable from the company's perspective.
- Anything that describes the candidate as a "hard worker", "responsible", "team player" is an opinion from the candidate, about the candidate. This is a conclusion the hiring manager should make, because the manager may have a very different version of "hard working". We don't want to put the manager into a situation where they are thinking. . . "You think you are a hard worker? I have folks on the team working 70 hours a week!" or, "You think you are a team player? I have NCAA champions working in this department. Those are team players!"
The above candidate would not be called in for an interview. The candidate put the recruiter into a skeptical frame of mind. As an aside, we’re certainly not telling you to embellish or fib your resume, but you need to position yourself properly, so you have the opportunity to explain any perceived shortcomings during an interview.
Career Changer Professional Summary Statement
As a professional with experience, you have real world experience in one or more companies. These positions may or may not be related to the new job of interest, or new career goals. Despite a varied career, we can summarize who we are in terms that are relevant to the job description. Stating who you are will set you apart and put the reader in the right frame of mind to review the rest of your document.
We wouldn’t be applying for a position in a new field if we didn’t feel we were qualified in some way. This could be formal training, passion projects, or experience in a related field. The trick is to emphasize how you are qualified for the new position vs. listing unrelated experience from prior positions that just ends up diluting your qualified experience.
EG: If you have experience in accounting and are moving to customer service, the first sentence of your summary statement should start with something like the following:
“I am obsessed with customer service and developed my skills in many service-oriented industries including but not limited to landscaping, childcare and technology.” (This summary can tie disparate experience together and focus the reader on the quality they are looking for.)EG: If you have experience in accounting and are moving to technology, the first sentence of your summary statement should start with something like the following:
“I am a recent graduate of the Acme Code School Academy, a 2-year program for developers. I have a degree in accounting and gained Power User Level experience in Excel working in tech companies
The above are written to take advantage of prior experience and state the new goals and related experience. Remember, resumes are skimmed, not read. The goal is to generate a phone call, not an offer letter. The shorter the better.
Key Takeaway: Anything you can do to make a statement vs. hint at our objective is a good thing. Finding a few quality ways to match prior experience to your new industry or profession is more important than listing pages of unrelated experience not listed in the job description.
Need help selecting Skills?
Professional recruiters know that resumes are very rarely read line-by-line. Recruiters write their own resumes for the reader that is intentionally skimming the document. In fact, most resumes are never read line-by-line…ever. Remember, your resume only receives a few seconds of eyeball time before a decision is made to recycle, or to give it a second longer glance and a (phone call).
Resumes are skimmed, not read. The goal is to generate a phone call, not an offer letter.
So, we want to make sure that the skills we list have the most impact possible. Our tip: limit the number of skill sets listed at the top of a resume. We recommend no more than 6.
Sadly, in recent years some artists have tried to mix country music and hip-hop together at the detriment of both genres. (Although we do like Kid Rock and his working man's attitude and work ethic! Guy knows how to play like five instruments.) In this instance, combining hip-hop and country actually just made a confusing mess. It's the same thing with your Skills section bullets. Use your hip hop bullets for the hip-hop job and the country music bullets for the country job. And if you happen to like hip hop and country together, helping you is unfortunately outside the scope of our mission.
Instead of trying to cover as many bases as you can with your resume, you want to focus on, and cover the specific bases that the job description is asking for. Most resumes try to cover everything. This is why we see resumes listing 10 – 15 skillsets. It’s tempting, we know. But as impressive as it is, the hiring manager will not care if you are a Salesforce expert if you’re applying for a middle school math teacher job.
Below is a typical set of skills taken from a resume for someone with experience in marketing but is applying for an accounting position.
"Go to Market Strategy, Social Media Implementation, Customer Service, Campaign and Brand Development, Market Research, Lead Gen, Sales Enablement, Relationship Management, Presentations, Case Studies, Data Analytics, Event Planning, Product Development, Advertising, Client Communications."
The above skills list, while commendable, is overkill. A recruiter will not be able to easily pick out the top few skillsets they are looking for in the two seconds an average resume receives. (No job description is going to be looking for all 14 skill sets in the first few bullets let alone the entire job description.
Instead of trying to list “bonus” or “extra” skill sets, focus on just listing the skills that the job description calls out. The job description will list 3-4 highly desirable skills. We want to list these skills only. Remember, if the hiring manager is looking for a specific skill set, that skillset will be listed in the job description.
We would be better served to review the job description and find the 4-6 skill sets the hiring manager is really looking for. If you have skills that are close or match them exactly, list them! Write them on your resume in the exact same words that they are listed in the job description. Again, make it as easy on the recruiter as possible.
So, the Career Tracker best practices resume would only list 4-6 primary skill sets that are pulled directly from the top bullets in the job description. If we were in the field of marketing and now interested in Accounting and Finance, we could list the following:
|Presentation Skills||Data Analysis|
The above are all qualifications that were developed in Marketing but are applicable to Accounting, the new field of interest. Congrats, you just bought yourself 10 more seconds in the resume engagement game!
If we have a targeted Summary Statement reinforced by just a few skills, we present ourselves as a candidate that is a perfect fit, vs. a jack-of-all-trades that may be able to do the job, but not as well as the other candidate who has the exact skills. You will also come across as passionate and focused on a few skillsets vs. someone who would “do the job not because I want to, but because I have to”.
Key Takeaway: Present yourself as the perfect fit vs. a jack-of-all-trades. Don’t dilute your brand with irrelevant or sub-optimal skillsets.
Experience Section Tips
Career Changer Experience
If we are changing careers, we may have been working for 10 years in a prior field, but may be inexperienced in our new field of interest. We should only apply to positions where our experience in our new field of interest is a close match to the job description. We should be showing an interest in positions that are requiring 1-3 years of experience. We may have 10 years of experience in Marketing, but probably if we are changing careers, we may only have a year or two of equivalent experience in Accounting. Apply for these positions.
Describe this Employer / Company
Most resumes relate how the candidate's experience is relevant to the job description. When professional recruiters apply for a position, they take advantage of every secret they know. One secret to stand out from other candidates is to list how the company we worked for is relevant to the job description and/or the hiring company. Yes, we’ve summarized our experience from prior jobs with specific bulleted accomplishments. That’s a good start. Professional recruiters also know there is an opportunity to explain how the company is related to the job of interest.
If our prior experience was with Acme Consulting, the reader will have no idea what kind of company Acme Consulting is outside of “Consulting”. If the title was Acme Accounting, the reader would understand you were working for an accounting firm and if you are looking for a job in accounting, this makes sense. You want to include a one or two sentence description of how your prior company is related to the job of interest because the reader may not be familiar with Acme Consulting. The goal is two-fold:
- Provide background and perspective on our prior employer because the reader may not be familiar with Acme Consulting. If Acme Consulting is not a household name, the reader won’t have perspective.
- Relate the experience we had with Acme Consulting to the job we are applying for. What industry? How large? Where are the clients located? How many employees? A private company or public company? We want to highlight the qualities that our prior company and our company of interest have in common.
An average company experience section may look like:
- An accomplishment that matches job description 1
- An accomplishment that matches job description 2
- An accomplishment that matches job description 3
June 2015 - August 2018
This is fine, but adding a description can provide more context:
Acme Consulting is a 100-person consultancy that specializes in technology database engagements. With clients all over the United States and Canada, Acme Consulting is a leader in its field with a reputation for meeting deadlines and superior customer service.
- An accomplishment that matches job description 1
- An accomplishment that matches job description 2
- An accomplishment that matches job description 3
June 2015 - August 2018
If you worked in a big Fortune 100 company, then include a description of the product, service or department where you worked. Explaining that I worked at Amazon doesn’t mean much. Saying I worked with Amazon’s Alexa group and a few relevant facts about specific Alexa properties will put your experience into perspective.
A good place to start for this section is the “About” section of the company’s website.
Key Takeaway: Make it easy on the recruiter to understand not only how your experience is relevant but why the company you worked with is also relevant. You can do this by adding a short description below each company, tailored specifically to the role you’re applying for.
List your duties and accomplishments (try to match them to the job description for which you are applying)
We want to maximize credibility with what the hiring manager is going to see in our resume. We also want to show that we have continuously advanced our career. This gives the indication we are constant learners and adding value over time. Hiring managers don't want to hire employees that remain stagnant.
Credibility can be added to your resume by quantifying your accomplishments. Professional recruiters know their personal opinion on their skill holds little water. They know the way to build credibility on their own resume is to use data to show results. Credibility can be added to your resume by quantifying your accomplishments. We do this by adding numbers to your resume wherever possible.
EG: As a sales person, you didn’t just sell widgets. A successful salesperson exceeded goals by 5% and brought in 3 new customers. You didn’t just work part time as a bank teller, you processed $100,000.00 dollars a day as a teller and assisted 60 customers a day. Numbers are more effective than personal opinions. We don’t want to say we worked hard. We want to prove our hard work with numbers that show the scale of the project.
Professional recruiters know that hiring managers want to hire candidates that progress their careers. One way we can show career progression is to focus on the experience that is most recent and therefore probably more relevant. In addition, we minimize the emphasis on older and most likely less relevant work experience.
This can become tricky when we are changing careers. We may have had some sophisticated experience in our prior career which is unrelated to our new career of interest. Despite our pride in these accomplishments, we need to resist the urge to list bullets that are unrelated to the new career.
We can show our sophistication and advanced accomplishments, but what is more important is to relate our accomplishment to the position of interest. Eight sophisticated accomplishments that are unrelated to the job description will dilute experience which can be related to the position of interest.
Candidates who have a number of years will have a lot of accomplishments to list on their resume. As a Career Changer, these bulleted accomplishments are often unrelated to the new field of interest. To bring less attention to this prior expertise, we do two things. We list fewer accomplishments AND we relate these accomplishments to the new field of interest.
To demonstrate career progression, use a simple, clear format like the following:
Most recent job (Manager)
2016 – present
- Accomplishment 1
- Accomplishment 2
- Accomplishment 3
- Accomplishment 4
Last Job (Asst. Manager)
2014 - 2016
- Accomplishment 1
- Accomplishment 2
- Accomplishment 3
Two Jobs Ago (Lead)
2012 – 2014
- Accomplishment 1
- Accomplishment 2
First Job (Entry-Level)
2010 – 2012
- Accomplishment 1
- Accomplishment 2
This format shows clear title improvements, and the number of accomplishments increases with each more recent position showing career progression. Remember, we are going to be hired for what we did most recently, not what we did 8 years ago.
Key Takeaway: List more accomplishments in your most recent experience and fewer accomplishments under your older experience to visually demonstrate career progression.
Education Section Tips
Where should you put the Education section on your resume?
Professional recruiters will not list their education at the top of their resume. Candidates early in their careers commonly list their education towards the top of their professional resumes. Professional recruiters understand why this might happen, but they also know there is a better place to list your education – and here’s why.
Most of us don’t really know why we list our education at the top of our professional resume. Maybe it’s because a school counselor recommended we put our hard-earned education where everyone can see it. Maybe we saw a template online, or a friend had a nice-looking resume and that’s how they did it.
Two questions: Have your friends reviewed thousands of resumes? Was your school career counselor a professional recruiter? They are all well-intentioned, but this advice is misinformed.
Listing education at the top of the resume might have made sense 20 years ago. A few generations ago, candidates hadn’t accomplished as much by the time they finished school. Graduating from school was the greatest accomplishment. Today’s generation is not just going to school. They are living life with projects, extra-curricular activities, part time jobs, internships, sports and participation in groups, associations, and meet-ups.
Education information should be listed at the bottom of the resume for a few reasons:
- The first thing we want the hiring manager to see is that we are qualified for the job via accomplishment other than our education.
- We can assume that most of the other candidates applying to the role have similar education. If a college degree is required for a job, then all qualified candidates will have a degree, and this won't help us stand out. Relevant work experience will get the hiring manager excited (assuming we have the required education).
- We can assume that most, if not all, hiring managers and recruiters will look towards the end of the resume to see what your education consists of. So, don’t worry, it will be seen!
Most resumes list education last
Because professional recruiters see 1000’s of resumes from all career levels, they know the vast majority of candidates on job boards are listing their education at the end of their professional resume. This is because they have job experience that is senior to their education. Right after they graduated, they landed a job using their education credentials. As soon as that happened the education took a back seat to job experience.
Because most candidates have experience, hiring managers and recruiters are conditioned to look for education at the end of the resume. If we know they are going to check the end of the document for the level of education, school, GPA, etc. then there is no use in wasting the most valuable real estate on the resume with anything other than relevant experience.
Remember, the job description said that a High School, Bachelors, Master’s degree, or whatever the level, was required. For the most part, candidates applying for the same job are created equal when it comes to education.
Even if you went to an expensive private school or an Ivy League college, list it at the end of the document. The recruiter will look for the education. If it was a requirement in the job description they will look. We promise.
Grade Point Average
At this stage in our career, we don’t need to list our GPA unless it was in the top percentile of our graduating class. With a few years of experience under our belts, your GPA isn’t as important to finding a mid-career position. Your GPA was important when looking for your first job out of school because this was one of our biggest accomplishments. But now that we have work experience, it is our work experience that is the most important. Of course, we are going to list our education and any degrees we earned, we are just past the point where GPA is important. Congrats!
After your education, it’s always good to list any collegiate sports, awards or teams you belonged to. All managers like to work with employees that have team experience.
Type of Degree
List out the entire degree vs. just listing the abbreviation. “Bachelors of Science” fills the page with more credibility than “B.S.” Advanced degrees can be listed in their abbreviated form. EG: MBA, PhD.
Year of Education Completion
If you graduated more than 5 years ago, we don’t need to list the year we graduated. Similar to our GPA, graduating from school was the experience that landed our first couple of positions. What will land our next position will be our most recent work experience. Because we listed our degree designation, the hiring manager knows that we graduated. The year we graduated isn’t relevant. Professional recruiters know that based on how long ago we graduated this year can date us as a candidate.
Key Takeaway: Move your education down to the bottom of your professional resume and use the prime real estate at the top of the document to qualify yourself for the position and increase the eyeball time on your document.
Interests Section Tips
Stand Out from the Crowd
If you haven't listed your personal interests on your resume, you are missing out on a golden opportunity to set yourself apart. Professional recruiters know this and will always take this opportunity to set themselves apart from other candidates by listing personal interests.
Let’s say I am a hiring manager and I am looking for a candidate with 3-5 years of experience with a degree in marketing. I share the qualifications with the recruiter and the recruiter comes back with 4-6 candidates. We can be pretty sure that all of the candidates I receive from the recruiter are going to have between 3-5 years of experience with a marketing degree. There may be a dark horse with 2.5 years or 6 years of experience, but for the most part, all of these resumes look the same. So how do you stand out?
You may have guessed it considering the topic of this resource: Personal Interests! We can’t even count how many times we have had hiring managers ask about candidates and refer to them by where they are from or some obscure fact that was listed in their personal interests:
- Hey, have you heard back from Arkansas?
- Hey, where are we at with our Cross-Country skier?
- Did we make an offer to our former Seattle Seahawk mascot?
Can the hiring manager work with you? Do they want to work with you?
At the end of the day, the hiring manager wants to know that you can not only do the job (necessary but not sufficient) but that you are someone the hiring manager can work with. Ideally the candidate shares commonalities and has some personality. Unless you're an auditor (just kidding!) The hiring manager is going to be spending 8+ hours a day with you. You can bet they want to see some personality.
If you want to stand out, list a few personal interests and include a strong descriptor like “passionate”, “avid”, or “fanatical”. Interests that show you are physically active are always good too – these demonstrate energy or the ability to energize others, which are two of the most important traits listed by managers and leaders. Personal interests that are related to your profession are also winners, probably needless to say!
Key Takeaway: Personal interests can separate you from a sea of virtually identical resumes. Include them and stand out!
Formatting Section Tips
It’s not what we say, it’s how we say it
Professional recruiters know that “how you say it”, is as important as “how you say it”. This is obviously true in the actual interview, but it can be a deal breaker or deal maker with your resume. Think of the letters you type on your resume as your words and think of how the resume is formatted as ‘how we say it”. We can have the right words, but if the intonation, volume, and accents are in the wrong places, we send a mixed message.
When professional recruiters create their resume they are conscious of a critical factor that most candidates don’t take into consideration. This critical factor is formatting of the document.
The first thing to take into consideration is the reader’s intent and then design our document around that specific intent. The reader whether it is the hiring manager or a recruiter isn’t reading your resume line by line. They are skimming your document for an initial 2-3 seconds. They do this because they have many, many resumes to review and the goal is to weed the stack of many down to 4-5 resumes that are “players” as quickly as possible.
This is why our Summary section is designed very specifically and the number of bullets we include for each position is very specific. We are guiding the recruiter down conscious paths so they come to the desired conclusion. Take an extra minute after the first skimming review and dig into the resume. Only after we make the initial cut and are one of the 4-5 resumes do we have a shot at receiving a phone call. This is why formatting is so important. With the right formatting, we can funnel the reader down the specific path and generate a longer look.
Some resumes are very easy to look at and others are very difficult to digest. Many candidates fill their pages with narrow margins and small font trying to get as much information into the resume as they possibly can. These candidates are afraid that if they don’t include a specific part of their work history, the recruiter won’t call them.
Professional recruiters on the other hand understand that all the hiring manager wants is what is in the job description and nothing more. If they wanted a specific skill set, they would have listed that skill in the job description.
Professional recruiters also recognize that depending on the position, most hiring managers are in their 30’s and 40’s or older. Their eyesight isn’t as strong and they are not reading a printed resume, they are viewing the resume on a monitor or laptop.
Professional recruiters will create a balanced document by using a larger font, well accepted font’s, and very few if any color beyond black. Colors are distractions and unless we are applying for a designer position, we aren’t being hired for artistic taste.
Professional recruiters have the following practices when they create their resume:
- Create full pages. They won’t have a resume that is partially full. When you turn in a resume that is only 1.5 or 1.75 pages long, we are communicating, “I know I had more opportunity to tell you about my accomplishments, but I couldn’t think of any or I got lazy and didn’t include them”.
- Full pages are created through the use of margins, header and footer width. Page length can also be adjusted by font size and spacing.
Key Takeaway: Career Tracker Key Takeaway: Take advantage of margins, headers, footers and font size to create full pages. Don’t feel like you need to include your entire work history. More is not always better.