How To Write the Perfect Business Resume
According to research performed by TheLadders, on average recruiters and hiring managers spend about six seconds reviewing a job candidate's resume before making the initial "fit or no fit" decision. If you want to get through the screening process and land a job interview, your resume has to be flawless--and it's got to stand out.
Want to learn how to develop a business resume that will get noticed? We can help--but first we recommend that you read the following articles on how to write a winning resume. Then continue on to the "Business Resume Tips" section below.
Business Resume Tips from The ExpertsThe following are general resume tips compiled from expert resume writers, hiring managers and industry professionals that you can refer to as you develop your business resume.
1. Tailor your resume to the position you're applying for. It may seem like a lot of work, but each and every resume you submit needs to be customized for the industry, employer, and specific position you're applying for. Submitting irrelevant, cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all resumes is the number one mistake job-seekers make. Molding your information to reflect what a potential employer is looking for is the number one way to create a winning business resume. Due your research, study the company's web site, learn about their culture, and make sure your resume mirrors their language and values.
2. Replace your Career Objective with a Summary Statement. When you're an MBA or business school graduate, it's pretty obvious that you're looking for a position where you can utilize the business skills you've developed. Don't waste the top of you resume (the most valuable space) with information that's redundant, obvious or lack luster. You need to immediately wow your prospective employer. We recommend replacing you career objective with a well written summary statement. Where the career objective focuses on the needs, wants and aspirations of the job-seeker, the summary statement focuses on the needs of the employer.
3. Put your name and contant info at the top. Simple enough, right? Well, more and more job- seekers are opting to place their name and contact information on the side, or even bottom, of their resume. Your name should be in bold face and/or regular caps. In regular, non-bolded font include your full address, cell phone number and email address. Fancy resume formats or templates that place your contact info and name at some other location than the top should not be used.
4. Stick to one page. A young graduate just out of business school should stick to a one page resume. Even if you're a seasoned business professional with a few years under your belt, we still recommend one page. The only time your resume should exceed one page in length is when you have 10 or more years of experience and your experience justifies using a second page.
5. Don't improvise. Being a business grad fresh out of school, you may be anxious to get creative in an attempt to stand out among a sea of job-seekers. It's important to stand out, but standing out in the wrong way is worse than not standing out at all. According to August Cohen, an executive resume writer, "you have to learn to follow the rules before you break them." If you're asked to submit your resume as a Word document, don't submit a PDF file. If you're asked to submit your resume via email, don't send it via certified mail instead. Before you attempt to wow a prospective employer, show them you can follow instructions.
6. Place your education section where it makes most sense. Exactly where you place your education section is still an issue of debate amongst resume experts. However, most experienced resume writers agree on one thing--you want to impress prospective employers and hiring managers right off the bat. If you're a strong student, graduating from a well-respected business school, then your education may be what's most impressive, in which case you should place it prominently at the top of your resume--and if not at the very top of your resume, then directly below your summary statement. If your education isn't anything to brag about, then you'll probably want to put it in the middle of the page, or even at the bottom of your resume.
If you have relevant work experience, then we recommend placing your education section after your experience section. Your most recent work experience is typically going to be more impressive than your education, especially if it's highly relevant to the position you're applying for.
7. Use white space to draw the reader's eye to specific items. More is not alawys better--and that's certaining the case when it comes to your resume. Any good designer knows that white space is your ally, not your enemy. Too much information becomes overwhelming and distracting. Using white space strategically throughout your resume, helps draw the reader's eye to important information. Use white space to make titles pop, headings stand out, and to separate important sections. You also want to employ bullets, italics and bold font, balanced with white space, to make your resume pleasing to the eye and easy to read.
8. Use keywords, but do so sparingly. There are two important reasons to include keywords in your resume. First, a lot of companies now use online recruitment tools that search for keywords relevant to the position being filled. If your resume doesn't include the right keywords, it may never be seen by a real human. Keywords also show that you're familiar with the industry and positioned being applied for. As important as keywords are to your resume, don't over do it. Use keywords sparingly--only when and where appropriate. Using too many keywords, or jargon, will get you resume tossed in the electronic waste basket.
9. Include revelant work experience. Your resume should be designed to tell a story--a story that is concise, easy to understand, and powerful. To that end, keep your resume focused and don't include every single job you've ever had. Putting too many jobs on your resume, especially if they don't have anything to do with the position you're applying for, can hurt your chances of landing the job. It's not uncommon for professionals to take part-time employment following a layoff, or when they're between career positions, but you don't need to include the month you delivered Domino's Pizzas to make ends meet if you're applying for a financial planner position.
10. Include quantifiable accomplishments. While anecdotal evidence is better than none, it's not nearly a powerful as results and accomplishments that are backed up with real numbers. Stating that you "implemented many cost savings measures" is much less effective than "decreased production costs by $290,000 during the 3rd quarter of 2014", or "grew revenues year after year" doesn't even compare to "grew revenue from $250K to $2M in two years". Stay away from using subjective traits, like "effective leadership skills" and "management expert". Always try to quantify your accomplishments and demonstrate your qualities with real results and real numbers.
11. Keep your education relevant. We already discussed how to determine placement of your education section within your resume, now lets discuss your education itself. As a rule of thumb, only include relevant education: the name of your college, your degree, and the year you graduated. If you're a recent graduate, you may want to include a list of course work that is relevant to the position you're seeking. Finally, never include your high school education--unless it's the only education you have.
12. Keep it strictly business. Most business owners, hiring managers and executive don't really care what you like to do on the weekend or in your spare time. They want to know what you're going to contribute to the company. Leave hobbies, extracurricular activities, and personal interests out of your resume, unless they're directly relevant to the position you're applying for.
13. Use the chronological resume format. The chronological resume is the format preferred by hiring managers and employers. While a functional resume may be appropriate for job-seekers making a career change, or who have large gaps in their work history, they're not recommended. One of the first things a hiring manager thinks when they see a functional resume is, "What is this candidate trying to hide?". If you have gaps in your work history or are trying to transition to a new industry, present the information you have in a way that is as relevant as possible for the position you're seeking, but still use the chronological resume format. For those making a career change, list any and all transferable skills that qualify you for the desired position. If you have gaps in employment, focus on how you kept your skills current during that time, or list volunteer work you performed.
14. Don't share everything. The purpose of your resume is to get you a job interview. It should reveal enough about you to get the hiring manager's attention, but leave enough unsaid that an interview is required to learn everything you have to offer.
15. Don't embellish. Embellishing your background, skills, or accomplishments is not the same as selling yourself. Whatever you say about yourself on your resume needs to be truthful. Don't lie. If it doesn't bite you in the butt immediately, it will at some time in the future.
Below is a sample business resume for a financial planner with about 3 years work experience with Morgan Stanley after college. She is seeking the position of wealth management advisor with Goldman Sachs in their wealth management division. The resume employs several of the recommendations outlined above.
818 N. Holiday Dr, SLC, UT 84092 (801) 921-9130 email@example.com
Results-oriented financial planner and wealth management advisor with track record of consistently meeting and exceeding company sales quotas. Skilled at acquisition of high net worth clientele with personal assets in excess of $3 million. Certified Financial Analyst with Series 7 and 63 licenses.
HIGHLIGHTS OF QUALIFICATIONS
- Extensive knowledge of investment and financial management for high networth individuals
- Pre-existing network of clientele and individuals with net worths in excess of $3 million
- Skilled in new customer acquisition, business development and revenue generation
- Have current CFA, Series 7/63 certification and licenses
MORGAN STANLEY, 60 E. South Temple, SLC, UT, 2011 - Present
Focused on new business development and acquisition of investment clients in both corporate and personal areas. Specialized in wealth management for individuals with assets of $500K to $5M.
- Signed 83 new clients in two years with personal net worths from $400K to $8 million.
- Achieved $100 million in assets under management between 2011 and 2014
- Consistently generated over $350,000 per quarter through commissions, client bonuses and sales
- Received top salesman of the year award for 2014
MBA, Marriott School of Management 2010
BS in International Relations, Brigham Young University, 2008
BS in International Relations, Brigham Young University, 2008
The above resume is not very long, but it tells a powerful story. It says, "I am a skilled financial advisor and I will make your company money!" While you may not be interested in becoming a wealth management advisor, your resume should also pack a powerful punch.
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