Today’s executives seeking new talent can reach thousands of potential candidates online, run background checks in seconds and track down former colleagues anywhere in the world on social networks. Hiring has changed, and it’s time for the humble resume to catch up.
Whether you’re looking to stand out early in the hiring process for an advertised opening or are proactively networking for your next job, here are a few ideas to document your work history more effectively.
Set yourself apart
Perhaps you’ve seen the viral resume created by a Northwestern University junior who applied to ad agencies with customized kits of Legos challenging them to “build the perfect account service intern.” Even for professionals in a more subdued field like real estate, this provides a good example of how fresh thinking can give applicants an edge. When quantifying personal talents, responsibilities and accomplishments, bullet points don’t always cut it. But today you don’t have to be a graphic designer to visualize your career in new ways. Sites like visualize.me, resumup.com and re.vu now let anyone use graphics, charts and other visual formats to chronicle career highlights in ways that can prove more compelling than a simple sheet of paper.
Give real examples
Of course, regardless of the format, what matters most in any part of an application is the evidence it offers that a candidate can do the job at hand. Laszlo Bock, who hires about 100 people each week for Google, recently shared his best piece of advice for writing an effective resume: “Frame your strengths as: ‘I accomplished X, relative to Y, by doing Z.'”
That means being as specific as possible. Don’t just say you successfully managed a portfolio of properties for five years. How many units did that encompass, with how many people under your leadership? What sort of NOI growth did you achieve and how did that compare to your peers? What challenges did you face in that position, and, most importantly, what decisions did you make to overcome them? Take every opportunity you can when describing your work history to highlight concrete results achieved through your leadership and knowledge that managers can use to differentiate your experience from that of other applicants.
Give them what they want
Unlike an interview, the written application process offers the chance to research exactly what the company is looking for in advance. Rather than taking the same approach for every position, tailor your resume to the requirements listed in a given job description. If it mentions presentation skills, highlight the frequency and number of your in-person reports to upper management. If it mentions a specific type of property, emphasize your experience in that niche early in the resume, even if it means moving a more prestigious but less relevant job title down the list. Try to use the same terms and language as the employer to describe your work and why it’s relevant to the position. By thinking independently, focusing on pertinent examples in your work history and always keeping your audience in mind, you can change resume writing from a chore to a useful tool that shows why you are the best person for the job.