Resume Workshop with The McCormick Group
Whether you’re just starting out or looking to make a career move, there are simple steps anyone can take to improve their resume. BID President Mary-Claire Burick recently joined Linda Segal, Principal with Rosslyn-based McCormick Group, for a discussion around building a resume that stands out from a crowded candidate pool. With over 23 years in the executive search space, Linda revealed best practices for building your personal brand, and disclosed many of the red flags that make all the difference in the eyes of a recruiter or potential employer. Here are some of the major takeaways.
A resume is a conversation starter, not a tell-all.
The intention of a well crafted resume is to peak the interest of an employer or recruiter without detailing every aspect of your work experience. While it should always include critical contact information, a resume doesn’t need every detail of your career for it to successfully convey your qualifications. Through clear, consistent formatting, candidates can display selected achievements that highlight past experiences that translate into the new role. Keep in mind that recruiters and potential employers usually scan resumes in 20 seconds or less, so take care to present your best selling points in a way that is quickly and easily digestible.
Structure your achievements.
When determining the layout of your resume, one recommended approach is the “S.T.A.R.” method: situation, task, accomplishment and result. For this method, start your description of each achievement by outlining the situation when you began a project. From there, describe the necessary action, detail your accomplishment and finally explain how the result benefited your organization. This approach highlights the importance of your achievements, and will ideally point to a direct return on investment for your employer, particularly if you were able to either save or make money for the company. Using the S.T.A.R. method allows you to tout exactly what you bring to the table and show why an employer should hire you, without a lengthy explanation.
Make the connection between what you’ve done and what you can do.
When applying for a job outside of your current industry, a resume that doesn’t show how your existing skill set would transfer into the new role is a red flag for potential employers. A title alone isn’t enough to prove your qualifications, especially if the function of that role differs between industries. If you’re just starting out in your career, this is a good opportunity to touch on any special projects or experience (e.g., in school, as a volunteer or otherwise) that demonstrate how your skills are transferable into this role. Adding a section that lists relevant extracurriculars and trainings will also show an employer how your experiences will add to your value as a potential employee.
Don’t forget to sell yourself!
Your resume is the first demonstration of your abilities to an employer, so make it count! Your resume should cater to the job you’re applying for, with everything from how you detail your experiences, down to the formatting. For example, when applying for a job in marketing, you should be able to market yourself in a way that’s visually appealing, clear and accurate. This also means there should be no obvious mistakes anywhere in your resume or cover letter, so don’t underestimate the value of proofreading. Reading your resume aloud or having someone else look it over are both great ways to gut check your resume, as typos or misspelled words are an easy excuse for employers to weed out candidates.
Whether you’re refreshing your resume for the first time, or updating for a career move, it’s important to keep in mind that you are your own best advocate. Show employers why you’re the clear choice and leave room for a continued dialogue to discuss your experience during an interview process. Your resume is an opportunity for you to highlight your achievements, skills and education in a way that best demonstrates to an employer why you’re the obvious choice.