The Ultimate Guide to Resume Writing - Part 2/6 - The Audience
So by now hopefully we've realized why putting effort into writing a resume is important, it helps you stand out when your face isn't there to do the talking for you. I've pulled a couple statistics out of the link above, and I'd like to share those. On average, for every 200 resumes read, one (1), interview will be granted. This gives your resume about 10-20 seconds to make an impression on whomever is reading it. Let's talk about the components that go into making that impression.
When writing a resume, you have to know your target audience. Is your target a large, well-established corporation? Chances are you'll be writing a more formal resume. A brand new start-up focused on sending the word "Yo" to anyone with the app (actually exists....)? Changes are your resume will be much more conversationally written. Knowing your audience enables you to tailor both what you list on your resume and how you list it. What values and skills does the target company need? What experiences do you have that will address those? These are two of the main questions to be asking yourself when writing (which we will get to in part 3).
I like to ask myself another question here. What superficially unrelated experiences have I had that I can link to the target company/position. For example, when I was applying for positions at a company that works in an international market, detailing my experiences with adapting to foreign environments and customs helped get me interviews and a position there for next summer. Even though these were not always jobs (just travel in many cases), it showcased an adaptability that the company did not know it wanted, and as such made a great impression!
Talking about yourself when writing a resume can be an awkward experience, to say the least. It is hard to draw a line between advertising yourself and bragging or being arrogant. Day to day, we don't have to advertise ourselves (generalizations I know), and as such tend to be more modest about accomplishments and skills. A resume is not the place to downplay your achievements. Make assertions about what you have done, and make sure these assertions are based in facts. Don't exaggerate to the point where a past employer would say that your description is inconsistent with the work you did in that position. You want to make sure that you accurately and glowingly describe yourself to whomever reads your resume. To pull another quote from the article I linked, "People more often buy the best advertised product than the best product." You need to show how your combination of skills and mindset (or whatever characteristics you are focusing on) put you at an advantage. You may not have a perfect 4.0 in university, but having a broader skillset can easily make up for differences in abilities. Companies aren't hiring robots, they are hiring people to work within teams and those who can progress and learn.
Now we come to an interesting subject, summaries. I have seen resumes that have summaries, I personally do not have one. I feel it is more important to keep your resume to a single side of a single page (at least early in a career) than it is to summarize what you are planning to say in person. Granted, this approach is based on my personal situation, as my resumes are given out in person and are accompanied by conversations with a recruiter or such. For applications online, a summary may be more in order, but I've still left my summary to the cover letter (a more personalized note to whomever/whichever company you are applying to). (I'm thinking about doing explanations about cover letters after I finish my sections on resumes). Long story short, a summary is your choice, but don't get bogged down in tedious wording, it will tire the reader and will get your resume tossed (often literally into a bin).
Once you've identified who you are speaking to, what you want to communicate to them, and how you want to do just that, you are ready to start writing your resume! Remember as we go forward, resumes are not to be set in stone, let yours be flexible, change it, update it, personalize it to the company you are applying to, trust me, it makes a difference. Next time we will actually begin the process of writing your resume!