Your resume is a specific marketing communication
Before we launch into advice on how to craft a stand-out resume, it is important to remind ourselves of the purpose of a resume. After all, knowing that can go a long way to inform what should be in there. So, what is the purpose?
There really is only one purpose or goal of a resume - to convince a Hiring Manager to offer you an interview. Your resume is a specific marketing communication, nothing more, nothing less. It must convey the right messages about your skills and background that the Hiring Manager believes you have what it takes to be a success in his/her team. It must excite the Hiring Manager enough that they want to learn more about you; it must inspire them to invite you for an interview.
Of course, all that is easier said than done - as many of you with only a bunch of rejection emails to show for your efforts regularly tell us! - but it is important to remember the purpose, as it can also help inform what not to do.
What your resume is not
Specifically, your resume is not the place to
- list every job you've ever had … many will be irrelevant, and that is a distraction to a busy Hiring Manager who wants the right candidate to jump off the page (not be buried somewhere along with a bunch of unimportant details)
- list all your skills and/or tools, technologies you've worked with - again, relevancy is key
- highlight every stage of your educational background - you may be very proud of some High School accomplishments (and rightly so), but again, unless there is relevancy (and ideally recency), the Hiring Manager is going to gloss over them very quickly so by listing them out you've lost valuable real-estate to convey a more compelling story
How to take action now!
So, before getting into any more specifics on how to craft a stand-out resume, let's take another look at what you have now … Are you being true to the purpose of a resume? Do you have details on there that are unnecessary or irrelevant? First clean those up - ideally free up some space - as we'll have lots of advice on other content that should be in there :)