I get a lot of people asking for my input to their resume or CV. I guess this isn’t surprising, based on all the work I do with clients on developing their personal brands.
Recently I mentioned this to my friend, executive recruiter Sharon Mah-Gin, whom you might know from podcast episodes on networking and job-searching. We lamented about how we keep sharing the same advice, over and over again!
That’s when we got the idea to create an episode focused on advice on how to “Upgrade Your Resume.”
And here we are!
(Yes, note our matching turquoise jackets.)
The first question I asked Sharon was, “What’s the difference between a resumé and a C.V.?” Apparently, they’re practically synonyms. If anything, a CV is the term used by more senior folks. Good to know!
I asked Sharon every question I’ve heard from my clients plus some questions of my own. I hope you enjoy the episode and the summary below.
As a bonus, we also created a two-page summary checklist for you as you’re upgrading your resume. Details are below.
Here’s your summary of 3 key learnings from this episode.
3 Things to Talk About this week:
- Focus on your impact
- Make it 2 pages. Unless…
- Make it easy for the reader!
1️⃣Focus on Your Impact
One of the most common mistakes that people make in their resume is in the Work Experience section. Often, people write about their responsibilities and their job descriptions.
Instead, we should focus on our IMPACT. This is about achievement and accomplishment.
Sharon highlights again and again:
“Companies hire you for 3 reasons:
to make money,
to save money,
or to solve a problem.”
This is an important and relatively easy fix.
After every line in your Experience section, ask yourself, “So what? What was the impact?” Then clarify how you help the organization make money, save money, or solve a problem. Ideally, make this impact quantifiable.
2️⃣Make it 2 pages. Unless…
This is one of the most common questions we get about resumes. “How long should my resume be?
This is an easy one.
Your resume should be two pages. Unless…
- If you are early in your career, 1 page is even better.
- If you are an academic (where you need to list your publications) or in another industry where longer is the norm, then longer is fine.
Being senior in your career with many roles and accomplishments is not a good reason to go beyond two pages. Be respectful of the readers’ time.
This takes us nicely to our third suggestion…
3️⃣Make it easy for the reader!
Of course, we want to make a favorable impression with our resume. We can do that with the format and the content. We can also make it easy for the reader.
The idea here is that YOU should do the work, not the reader.
A few suggestions:
- Keep it short. Probably two pages – see above.
- Briefly describe firms that people might not be familiar with.
- Chronological resumes are easy to follow. Functional resumes are not!
- Use easy-to-follow formatting. For example, use bolding or CAPS selectively and consistently in headings, etc.
- White space is a good thing. Tiny fonts are not.
There you go – 3 things to Talk About this week:
1️⃣ Focus on your impact
2️⃣ Make it 2 pages. Unless…
3️⃣ Make it easy for the reader!
A huge THANK YOU to Sharon. You are so wise and so generous. Thanks for sharing your expertise with all of us – again!
⭐⭐ A Bonus for You! ⭐⭐
Sharon and I created a Resume Tip Sheet, summarizing all the main points from our conversation. I encourage you to download it and use it as a checklist as you update your resume.
Your resume is a big deal. It’s also one of the most direct ways that you communicate your personal brand. It’s definitely worth the time and effort to update your resume.
Executive Communication Coach
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