The election is over, the fiscal cliff is looming and the consolidation of the markets is upon us. Layoffs are occurring at most major shops. One Global bank is exiting business lines altogether, and no less than 2 investment banks have agreed to be taken over by larger entities. If you are an active participant in this market due to layoffs or an under-appreciation of your ability as evidenced by your bonus here are some tips you can take advantage of in order to make your resume friendlier to the viewer.
1. Resumes Are Not “One Size-Fits All.”
My number one piece of advice in the coming months is not to limit yourself to one resume designed to blanket the universe trumpeting your presence. Become a good participant in your process by first understanding the role for which you are applying, and then by creating a resume that responds directly to that opportunity. Hiring managers will -on average- receive better than 60 resumes per opening, and in this market they do not have the time or energy to read between the lines. You can amplify your experiences throughout the resume that “speak” to the role and get better reception from the viewer.
2. Keep It Short.
3 pages are out. 2 pages rarely get read in their entirety. If you can keep it to one page, please do so. If you are one of those rare professionals with a PhD and a page or 2 of writing samples, it is acceptable to give the reader a couple of outstanding examples. It is also acceptable to let him or her know that writing samples and articles are available upon request, just like your references. If you are a banker with a sheet full of transactions, create a separate document. If you are a 20+ year veteran of the markets, go back 10 years and summarize the prior 10 years in a few lines. It is ok. Your goal isn’t to shuffle those years and jobs under carpet. It is just designed to ensure the reader is left wanting more.
3. Sprinkle In Accomplishments.
When I interview a professional for a search, I always find myself asking this question because traders, salespeople, bankers, research analysts, etc. tell us all what they did on the job every day, but not what they accomplished! I am not saying that every promotion, or transaction needs to be listed, but it would not hurt to expend one bullet (point) letting the reader know that you were recognized by the management or colleagues for a success while employed at each particular stop on your career.
4. Objectives Are OK…Professional Summaries Are Not.
Don’t misunderstand me. Some professionals like to tick off their professional strengths at the top of their resumes and that is acceptable to the reader. They are eye-catching. Additionally, there are resume writers who want the reader to know what their goal is the minute they get past the static data of name, address, phone numbers and e-mail address. It is good to have goals! But, the professional who wants to summarize his or her career for the reader in three of four lines should refrain, please! We are in a consolidating market and it is possible for a partial or total reinvention of one’s self at this time, so declaring your specialty, job, or experience only closes the door to possibilities rather than open it.
5. The Bottom Of Your Resume Should Be Chock Full Of Data.
Education, licenses, hardware and software experience, associations and affiliations; it all goes here. Some pros I speak with like to embed their experience in the body of the resume with tools used, licenses earned, associations they joined, and more. In my experience, the experienced reader starts at the top, scans the middle, jumps to the bottom and then bounces back. Why? Because when a client or hiring manager develops a job description and writes down his or her bonafide job qualifications, they want those requirements for education, licenses, and technology to be where they can be read easily to make sure what they seek is waiting for them. Following that, they will return to the body of the resume and see the content. The mystery writer isn’t eliminated, but his resume is placed in a pile of back-up resumes that the hiring manager may never return to, because he or she has already made a decision.
Remember when submitting your resume that there are 3 major components to opportunity. One is skill set, the second is subject matter and the third is experience. It is optimal to answer yes to all three before hitting the send button and distributing your resume and cover letter in this market. It is possible to be missing one of the three, but realize that there will be others more qualified for the role that are competing with you for the same job. If you remember that, you will be better able to gauge the level of response. Use executive recruiters when the fit is best of all! They will be able to highlight your resume and make sure it gets read. Additionally, hiring managers have made the decision to gain time doing something else and pay a fee for that service. Rely on personal contacts when the fit isn’t perfect. Hiring managers are more apt to take a chance when someone on the inside is already there to vouch for your character, work ethic, and ability as well as when a fee isn’t part of the process . Good luck!