Episode: 253 |
Will Bachman:
Resume Tips:


Will Bachman

Resume Tips

Show Notes

Tips on updating your resume.

I’ve looked at 5,000 resumes over the past four years – seen some good ones, and lot of resumes with room for improvement.

This episode is particularly geared at independent consultants, but 90% of it is relevant to any professional.

Sections covered:

  1. Formatting
  2. Contact info
  3. Summary section
  4. Experience
  5. Education
  6. Publications
  7. Public speaking
  8. Patents
  9. Volunteer activities
  10. Technical skills
  11. Certifications
  12. Media
  13. Functional skills
  14. Geographic flexibility
  15. Personal info
  16. Languages
  17. Citizenship

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:01
Hey, welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. Unleashed is produced by Umbrex, which connects you with the world’s top independent management consultants. I’m your host Will Bachman. Today, I’m going to share some tips on updating your resume. Yes, I realize that a resume is old school, and that LinkedIn is now our resume of record. But if you’re looking for a full time job, some companies still want to see a resume. And if you’re a consultant, some clients still do want to see one. My work with Umbrex, I’ve worked. I’ve looked at over 5000 resumes over the past few years. Some resumes look incredibly professional and reflect well on the individual. But that is the minority of ones that I see. As with any communication you want to consider, other than just the information of the content itself, what’s the message that I’m sending with this document. So the majority of resumes I see suffer from at least one of the more flaws. And here I’m going to share some tips on updating your resume and making it look amazing. So number one, and I hate to start with this one, but I will say spelling, most recent resumes a look at and these are from alumni of top business schools and top consulting firms. Most of them have at least one spelling error. Some people don’t care about that too much, but I’m a little old fashioned. And I see a spelling error. And a resume is an indicator of just poor attention to detail and doesn’t bode well for work on projects. So read your resume 10 times assuming that there’s a spelling in there in there somewhere. And if you can’t find it, hire a copy editor on Upwork. To read it over. When I was on a submarine, and I was the communications officer, my commanding officer enrolled Captain Walsh, had the attitude that there was always going to be a mistake in whatever I brought to him and he was darn sure going to find that mistake. And often he did. But I was always extremely pleased with myself when I could bring him something and it was no errors. So treat your resume the same way. Number two formatting. If you aren’t a wizard with Microsoft Word, then don’t try to create your own resume format. often see resumes where the dates don’t line up, or just overall looks kind of like mud, or the dates are formatted inconsistently. You’ll have a person spell out the word June, for example, but then abbreviate July as well. So find a professional, elegant resume design and use that as a template. Or once you’ve written it hire designer and just make it look sharp. And then also save your resume and send it as a PDF, not a Word doc, Microsoft Word doc sometimes show up funky on a tablet or someone else’s operating system. And things get all misaligned. Whereas with a PDF, it’s more likely that the recipient will see what you see. Number three, your name. If you go by a nickname, then put it in parentheses so that we all know what to call you. If you have an MD or PhD, that’s okay to put those initials after your name. But if you have an MBA, please don’t put those initials after your name. I think you probably know that already. But a few people didn’t get the memo. If you have a bunch of other certifications, then find out the standard for people applying for the role that you’re seeking to get or the project that you’re seeking to land. For some jobs, you might not even be considered unless you put PMP after your name. But for some jobs, anyone who puts PMP after their name would be automatically disqualified. So just understand what the culture expects in your space. Number four, the contact info at the top of the page, include your phone number, about 30% of the resumes I see there’s no phone number, does the person not want to be contacted? Why are they sending me a resume if they don’t want me to call them up. So put your phone number on there. Second, include an email address preferably not an aol.com or yahoo.com or hotmail.com email address. Maybe this isn’t fair, but using one of those email addresses, just like wearing a 30 year old suit to an interview might have been stylish when it first came out, but it’s time to retire that email address. Get a personal branded email account with your own domain or at a minimum get a gmail address. Preferably include your full physical mailing address, but if you’re concerned about I don’t know stalkers, or have some reason not to give out your address, then at least include the town where you live. Guess what clients and employers might care if you live in Boston or Los Angeles. Whether they’re thinking about hiring you as a full time employee or as a consultant, so at least let people know what metro area you’re in. And don’t just leave it blank, include your LinkedIn URL, and ideally have it hyperlinked, so people can just click on it. And if you’ve got a website, include that link as well. If you’re active on Twitter, and you post about professional stuff there, then you might want include your Twitter handle. Number five, in the summary section that some people put right below the contact info, and above the experience section. This is the part where resume summarize the person I’m okay with this section, if it’s short, and if it’s specific, and it’s memorable. But please avoid a lot of meaningless buzzwords. If 50% of the people applying for the project or the job could say the same thing, then don’t say it. And you know what I’m talking about. But I’ll give some examples anyway. A seasoned executive passionate about results, or skillfully stewards, high stakes, multi stakeholder projects from concept to reality. I actually see this kind of stuff. Alright. excellent communication skills enable engagement and alignment of internal external constituents and successful translation of high level strategic directives into tangible next steps for measurable results. can do attitude coupled with exceptional interpersonal abilities, provides basis for long term trusted relationships, or dynamic results oriented individual with great leadership and interpersonal skills are able to display a unique balance of strategic planning and tactical operating operational execution. So these all sound like they’re generated by a, you know, management consultant parody account on Twitter. So just avoid all that verbiage. It just it just nonsense. And it doesn’t help at all doesn’t mean anything, it just feels like fluff. And I don’t even know what people are talking about. Okay, experience section, this section should go at the top, The education section only goes at the top if you’re in college, or grad school, applying for your first job at a school. Once you’ve got your first job, move that education section down below the experience section. Okay, once you’re out of school, we care about what you’ve accomplished in the real world. I see a lot of people, maybe the majority use the wrong approach in writing their bullets in the experience section. Instead, they read a job description. So I’ve seen a person who was an engagement manager at McKinsey, right? consulted on and manage the day to day direction of client projects, ensuring engagements were continually on track and delivering clear benefit to the client in both the short and long term. Well, no kidding. If you were an EM at McKinsey, by definition, that’s what you did. That adds no more informational value than just the job title. If someone knows McKinsey, they know that’s what an EM does. Here’s another example of VP of dashboards wrote this, as their in their experience section is one of the bullet points, code delivering a monthly dashboard for the chief financial officer with key metrics on financials, people and risk and controls, particularly owning partnership with workforce analytics data team. Oh, I could have guessed that a VP of dashboards would be responsible for wait for it, delivering dashboards instead of a job description. This experience section should tell short little mini stories. What was the situation you faced? What did you do? And what was the impact? So those three things, little mini stories? What was the situation number one? Number two, what did you do? And number three, what was the impact, you can probably dispense with the months and the dates. And by the way, in the experience section, if you have multiple different employers, just put the years months just clutter up the page, it’s kind of fuzzy and it distracts me. If the employer that you worked for is not well known to every professional might read your resume, then give me five to eight words to just explain what the company is maybe a regional grocery chain based in the southeast, or a SaaS based back office solution for veterinarian offices, something short and sweet like that, just so I know what the company is and don’t have to look it up. On the other hand, if every professional reading your resume ought to know your employer, then don’t explain it. So if you worked at Google, you don’t need to tell us that it’s a leading global search engine. location. I like to see a location for each job in the experience section. Even if you traveled a bit like what office where you based in explain any big gaps in the experience section. If you are a stay at home parent or caring for a family member, that’s cool. Just explain that so we’re not left with wondering about those missing years. Oh, and update your resume so that the most recent experience listed is actually current. And you’re actually employed there. If you’re currently an independent consultant, don’t send a resume that shows you’re still employed by a fortune 500 company. It’s just confusing. And it makes me wonder, wait a minute, are you still employed there and you’re thinking about leaving or thinking about becoming an independent consultant just updated. In terms of how to list your recent experience, if you are an independent consultant, few options, you could just say, as your employer, you could just put independent consultant, and then have a short blurb of the type of work you focus on, and several bullet points with Project examples. Or if you have named your firm, then it’s fine to list your firm and give yourself a title. If you are aiming to appear bigger than just a independent consultant, freelancer, single shingle, you could right no boutique consulting firm focused on operational improvement, or whatever it is you do. Some clients are looking for a boutique consulting firm, not an individual. But some clients are looking just for one person, truly, they just want an independent consultant. And they don’t want to engage your firm because they might be concerned about Oh, they’re gonna have to hire you plus your associates, and so forth. So decide on what type of clients you’re trying to serve. Are you trying to serve clients that just want one person or clients that want a sense of getting a firm? If you expect to primarily do projects as a solo practitioner, then if you have named your firm as listed and listed that as your employer, considering making clear that you are in fact an independent consultant in the write up. And for consultants, you don’t need to list every single project you’ve ever done on your resume. You should however, have a separate detailed project list. And I discuss how to go about that, or one great example of that in Episode 140 of this show. Okay, let’s finally get on to the education section. So if you have a PhD or a master’s degree, awesome, tell us what your thesis was on and what you studied, I’ll probably have no clue what you’re talking about. But nevertheless, you know, you never know, maybe I will. And maybe it’s relevant to the project. List impressive leadership positions you held, or impressive awards. If you are like a Marshall scholar or Rhodes scholar, you might want to mention that if you are president of a college newspaper or held some similarly impressive leadership role, it’s good to list that even if you’ve been out of school for a few years. But if it’s a more minor, non leadership type role, if you were a member of the management consulting Association, along with 40% of your class, you can leave that off. for undergrad list what your major was in some people just leave that off. If you were Phi Beta Kappa or graduate honors, go ahead and brag a little bit and mention that. And then education other than college and grad school, don’t list High School, please. For online courses, I would not list one online course that you’ve done. That looks kind of lame. But if you’ve been really serious about self study, and you’ve completed a program of 10, or 20 courses online, mastering data science or search engine optimization, for example, then sure list those courses and you know, list them all out. So you’ve completed a program on EDS or Coursera, or Udacity, or wherever. And I’ll be impressed that your commitment and the skills you’ve learned and that would be meaningful. If you’ve, you know, done a significant amount. Number eight publications. If you’ve been writing, then definitely include a publication section. And that includes academic writing, as well as any books, articles or white papers that you’ve written. Number nine, public speaking and conferences. If you gave one talk 10 years ago, then you can skip this section. It looks kind of lame to list that all by itself 10 years ago, but if you’ve spoken at a dozen industry conferences of the past couple years, then you should definitely include that list because that’s a real credibility builder. Number 10. patents. I’m a bit of a sucker. I’m always impressed when someone has one or more patents, I don’t have any. Even if those patents are relevant to aren’t or not relevant to a project. It just it just seems kind of cool. So I would definitely go ahead and list any patents that you have. Volunteer section. If you have recently been active as a volunteer, then it’s definitely fine. And I would encourage listening that particularly if you’re on the board of a nonprofit or or if you just devote a substantial energy to a cause and if you’ve been steadily involved for a long time and Volunteer causes then go ahead and list that history. But if you volunteered 10 years ago, and you haven’t done any volunteering since then it’s better to leave that section off. Number 12 technical skills, it’s good to list all the programs that you’re familiar with that go beyond the standard that’s expected in your space. So you don’t need to list Microsoft Word and PowerPoint and Excel. Some people list those. And it’s like saying that you know how to do like, it is like saying you know how to read or how to do a Google search just sort of expected. But if you’re a certified expert on something that not everyone in your industry knows, then lists that. So for consultants that might include tableau, or alteryx, or SQL or Python, or Adobe Premiere. But again, in certain industries, listing those things would be kind of stating the obvious 13 certifications, if it’s relevant to the type of job that you’re applying for, or the type of projects you’re looking to get as a consultant, then definitely list out all those certifications. Number 14 media, if you’ve been quoted in numerous industry publications, or in the mainstream media then certainly mentioned all those places that you’ve been quoted, that’s a bit of a credibility, credibility builder. Number 15 List of functional skills. If you list a limited number, maybe half a dozen, then that helps me understand your strengths and your focus area. But if you list 30, or 40, different functional skills, and I’ve seen people do this, I’m going to think that the jam is spread pretty thin, and that you aren’t an expert in any of them. And it looks like you’ve designed your resume to be caught by a more of a search function and not to be looked at by human because I think it actually degrades the opinion of someone who have lists 30 or 40, different skills. Number 16. Geographic flexibility, if you’re willing to travel for consulting projects, or move for a full time job, then I would mention that so don’t to guess 17 personal, this is a chance to make a human connection and show that you do something besides work. So don’t put something boring, like reading or jigsaw puzzles. If all your hobbies are boring, then don’t include the section at all. But if you have done something or do something that’s distinctive, something that person would be curious to ask you about, then put that so maybe you put you know certified master sommelier, or competed in 14 chili making competitions across Texas earning three blue ribbons, like that would be interesting. If someone put that I would definitely ask them about it, or 80% complete on goal to climb the highest peak in all 50 states like okay, you might open a interview asking someone about that, or, you know, compose crossword puzzles for the New York Times with seven published today. Like that’s kind of unusual. So it catches my attention. So if you do something unusual, something interesting, put it down. If it’s something like I like to watch TV, you know, you can maybe leave that off 18 languages. If you speak any languages, other than English at a professional level, definitely list those. If you’ve learned beginner level Spanish on Duolingo, you can leave that off. So we don’t really care that you can ask how to get to the bus station 19 citizenship. So this guidance is for the US. If you live in the US and you’re a citizen, and all your education and jobs have been in the US, then you don’t need to mention your citizenship. If you’re a US citizen, but you’ve gone to school in other countries and worked all over the world. And it’s not exactly obvious that you’re a US citizen, then you might want to just put us citizens that person doesn’t have to guess. And if you are a green card holder or you have a certain type of visa that allows you to work then you should say that and be clear that you are authorized to work in the US. Because even if you list your visa type, it’s likely that the person reading your resume might not be familiar with all the different visa rules. So those are 19 tips. If you have additional resume tips. I’d love to hear about it or if you disagree with any of these suggestions, I’d love to hear about it. You can email me at Unleashed at Umbrex COMM And if you’ve been thinking of giving the show a five star review on iTunes now would be a great time to write one. It helps other people discover the show. Thanks for listening

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