Top 10 things to include on your resume
Look at your resume from the interviewer’s perspective, not your own.
Every hiring manager looks for different things on resumes, but there are many areas of commonality. Your resume is all about you. Put your best foot forward and give it the time and preparation needed to make you the person the reader needs to bring in for an interview. Here’s a way to look at it from the interviewer’s eyes.
10. Overall appearance: Make it easy to read, using a font like Calibri or Verdana, between 10 and 12 point. Resumes often are read late at night, and yours is one of many being quickly scanned. If you’re submitting a paper copy, bright colors or fancy appearance may catch your own eye, but when the reader is looking for substance, those kinds of things can be viewed as gimmicks that may detract. If the appearance reflects your personality, go for it, but recognize that it could work against you.
9. Maturity: This comes across in how you write; for example, circle every time you use the word “I” or “my” and see what you find. Prospective employers are looking for someone to help them, so frequent use of “I” can imply that you’re all about you. Another suggestion is to give your resume to someone for whom you have great respect, ask that person for complete candor, and then listen to his or her suggestions.
8. Intelligence: Excessive large words aren’t necessary and, in fact, can be a turn-off and make you seem pompous. The smartest, most effective people are masters at simple and to-the-point wording on the key points of importance to the reader.
7. Education: List not just where you went and how you did, but how you got through it. Did you work or participate in sports while going to school? I encouraged a young chemical engineer who’d been advised not to list the fact that he was a track captain at a Division I school to include that experience.
6. Prior experience: Quantification of your results is key, not just verbal summaries of your contributions. What was the result, what impact did you make, and how?
5. Energy: Include things that indicate involvement and a get-up-and-do-it attitude—things that indicate you were “bloodied” on the playing field by making real things happen rather than just sitting in the bleachers and observing the action
4. Creativity: Examples like starting your own company, creating a job, or solving a complex problem in an innovative way point to someone who can be counted on to deal with issues that inevitably arise.
3. Clear thinking: Lack of clutter in your resume implies a person who thinks clearly and doesn’t put the burden on others to figure out what he or she is saying. There are few people whose careers justify a resume length of more than two pages.
2. Leadership: Were you head, president, chair, captain, or leader of a committee or group? Leadership doesn’t apply only to management positions; there’s a need for rotating leadership based on the situation, and prior examples of your proficiency will stand out.
1. Team orientation: Writing your resume in a way that indicates that you can work with others with humility but still get results is critical. Personal statements about how this next job will help you are a clear turn-off. The hiring manager is not trying to figure out the company can help you, but how you can help the company. The bottom line for the hiring manager: Is this someone I want to work with or bring into my team?
John Suzukida was Trane’s senior VP of global marketing and strategy prior to founding Lanex Consulting in 2002, which focuses on strategic planning and product-to-solutions business model transitions. He has a BSME and distinguished alumnus award from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.