There is a common misconception that having a professional resume will get you hired. Absolutely false! A stellar resume gets you in the door, but that is it! Think of your resume as a fancy doorman in one of those upscale buildings. They look great—completely put together, shoes shined, perfect haircut, they even smell like money! They hold the door and get you in the room, but that’s it! The moment you step foot in front of the hiring manager, it is up to you to sell yourself in real life.
How to Write a Resume
Let’s be clear- you need that doorman! Having a clean, concise, and professional resume is absolutely imperative. Resume writing isn’t easy, and if writing isn’t your thing, then hiring a resume service might be your best bet. However, if you are a regular Hemingway, keep reading for a few tips on resume writing.
- Keep it brief—don’t write like Hemingway! Scratch that former writer line; no hiring manager wants to read a complicated, over-written resume. Keep it simple! Flowery language is wasted in this genre. Be concise, clear, and to the point.
- Two pages are okay, but please no more! If you’ve been around for a while, have had some training, and have worked a bit, then you probably need more than one page. However, if you find yourself writing on that third page, please stop! No matter how interesting your career has been thus far, hiring managers do not have the time to read your life story. Maybe find a way to combine your job descriptions if you worked in similar positions for different companies or cut the positions that aren’t relevant. You can always go into further detail at the interview.
- Add those skills- hard and soft. Gone are the days when you only add your Microsoft Office, Google, or Photoshop expertise. Of course, add those “hard” skills; your potential new boss needs to know what you can do. But also add those softer skills—are you creative? Patient? An excellent time manager? Well, those traits can be equally important. A quick hack to differentiate between the two: hard skills are usually acquired through training, education, or work experience, and soft skills form over time, life experience. And employers want you to have both!
- Formatting matters; this is your chance to show your digital imprint. Keep it easy to read and visually appealing. Depending on your field, think about whether your resume should be all business or artistically based. You most likely will opt for a clean design.
- Don’t forget ATS optimization! ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System, and it takes a company’s job description and compares it to resumes that have been submitted in their applications. ATS basically acts as a database for job applicants. It matches your target positions with keywords that these companies are looking for in the ideal candidate to see if it’s up to par and passes the test to be viewed by an actual human. Figuring out those keywords and incorporating them organically into your resume can get you through that interview door.
Now, if this all feels like a bit much, don’t worry! There are people that can help. Hiring a resume service might be your best option. But you might wonder, is it really worth the expense?
Resume Services: Are They Worth It?
Short answer—absolutely! It is our business, after all! We wouldn’t be chatting with you if we didn’t full-heartedly believe in the work we do. Long answer—the right resume service is absolutely worth it. However, please don’t fall for the “Our resumes will get you hired!” false hope guarantee. That is a huge red flag, my friend! Any resume writing service that promises results should raise your concerns. At Em and a Pen, we promise to give you the most professional and honest representation of your work and experience. As long as your credentials match the jobs you are searching for, we will get you through that interview door. The rest is up to you!
You’re Through the Door: Now What?
Forgive the title reiteration, but it’s worth saying again—a resume WON’T get you hired, but how you present yourself in an interview most likely will! You want to be yourself, but your absolute best self! And let’s be real, interviews are scary! From tackling trick questions to describing your top traits, it can all be a bit daunting. However, there are things you can do to set yourself up for success.
Interview Tips & Tricks
Like any important life event, being prepared for an interview can make all the difference. And a little bit of legwork and effort can go a long way.
- Do your homework! Research the company you are applying to and know a bit about what you’re getting into before walking in the door.
- Dress appropriately. After doing your research, you should have a general vibe of the office/company culture. Dress to fit in, but also just one notch nicer than everyone else—you want to stand out after all.
- Be on time! Seriously, does this even need to be said?! A matter of minutes can make or break your first impression.
- Be honest but positive, both with your words and your body language. Obviously, you’re leaving your current job for a reason, but keep it light and neutral. No one wants to hire a Negative Nelly or someone who talks badly about the companies they’ve worked for—save that for your friends. And it’s not just about the things you say! Be mindful of your body language as well. Your mouth might be saying one thing, but those crossed arms and slouching posture is telling a whole other story. Keep it open and light.
- Be prepared for those standard questions. While every interview experience differs, there are some basic questions that most hiring managers will ask. Your top traits, your weaknesses, what you have to bring to the table, and where you see yourself in five years are probably all going to come up, so be ready to chat about it.
- Be nice! Again this shouldn’t even need to be said, but please be kind. And not just to the hiring manager. Be friendly to the receptionist, the person who held the door for you, really anyone in the area that could be noticed. And if you are usually more reserved, practice before you get there. A positive, caring demeanor can go a long way, especially if it is a tight race for the position you are applying for.
- Be grateful. On a similar note to being nice, please say thank you. Even though it’s old school, a post-interview thank-you note can help you stand out and be remembered. Who doesn’t want to hire that well-versed, well-dressed, punctual, positive, prepared, kind applicant who also took the time to say thanks?
Combine these preceding tips with that fancy resume doorman, and well, now you have a shot! But if you feel like you could still use further help to prepare, along with resume writing services, we offer interview and career coaching. Let us walk you through the process and help you land your dream job.