With cashed up corporate balance sheets and strong earnings growth, employment levels continue to improve across America in 2016. The latest unemployment rate has declined to 5.5% as of 4Q2015. Meanwhile, the number of long-term unemployed fell 300,000, the sharpest drop in 2½ years, to 3.5 million.
It’s in the first half of the year where ideally all hiring shall be done because: 1) The best available people are still available. There is a bias against people looking in the 3rd and 4th quarter because rightly or wrongly, companies will be wondering what’s wrong with you for not having found something earlier; 2) Companies need to spend their budgets while they are still available. There’s no time like the present; 3) Hiring an employee at the start of the year gets the most out of the employee, especially if there is a guaranteed compensation package.
If you find yourself looking for a job in the second half of the year, it’s important to hustle a little more or prepare for activity to pick up in the spring. Don’t give up home. Use this time to plan more thoroughly.
I’ve seen over 8,000 resumes in my career and hopefully this article and subsequent articles linked within can help you out. An excellent resume should be standard.
THE IMPORTANCE OF AN UPDATED RESUME
Just the other week, I had breakfast with an old boss of mine who moved on to do different things last year. What I thought was a friendly meet up turned out to be a soft sell on why I should join his firm. “We should talk more next week Sam,” he concluded. “I think you’ll be amazed at what we’re doing here.” I proceeded to discuss my meeting with another old colleague of mine who then said, “Sam, actually we also have a 5 year runway to build something great. You should send me your resume.”
“No problem“, I said. Truth be told, my resume was one year old and needed some updating. But, that’s OK, given the changes were quite minor as I’ve been with the same firm for awhile now.
It never hurts to keep employment dialogues open, even if you don’t currently plan on leaving your company. It’s a courtesy to them, and you never know when someone wants to pay you big bucks for a guaranteed length of time to join their organization! It’s generally I who evaluate resumes, so it was kind of exciting to update my own to send to someone else.
IMPORTANT RESUME TIPS TO KNOW
* The 7 Seconds Rule. The average amount of time a reviewer spends on your resume is 7 seconds and that’s it! It’s partly because we have so many resumes to look at, and it’s partly because we’re lazy. Make sure the top half of your resume pops and everything is clear.
* One Page Resume Or Bust. If you have a resume longer than one page, you just quadrupled your chances of having your resume crumpled and tossed in the bin. More is much less in this situation. Having a one page resume shows that you are concise, clear, and to the point. Again, we only spend roughly 7 seconds on your resume, so don’t bore us with irrelevant details. It’s all about what you’ve done lately, your education, and an interesting fact about you. Anything more and we’ll ask you during the interview.
* Don’t Over Think Design. Unless you are a graphic designer looking for a job, there’s no need to over think the design of your one-pager. Contact info, latest two or three jobs with responsibilities, education, and hobbies done. Segment the page out in titles, use bullet points if you will, and make that one page as simple to read as possible. We really don’t care about what type of font you are using, whether the paper has a thicker weave, and all the nitty gritty details of your latest project. Like blogging, content is king!
* Don’t Hide Obvious Things. If you’ve never had a real job before or are still within 5 years out of undergrad, you better not hide your GPA. Hiding your bad GPA is a 90% guarantee of getting your resume tossed because it shows that you think reviewers are stupid enough to not realize your grades are missing. We’ll start thinking the worst, so don’t hide your GPA! Don’t hide any of your contact details either. That will surely piss off your reviewer if she wants to contact you.
* A Good Resume Is Standard, Nothing Special. A good or great resume doesn’t make the person. You and your interview make the person. A good resume should be standard, which means it’s all the important not to have a bad resume. A bad resume obliterates your chances, and a good resume is the absolute minimum. There is no one golden resume format. It just has to be easy on the eyes. From the examples below, you’ll see that all are acceptable resumes.
* Customize Your Resume As Much As Possible. Don’t use a generic resume for all your applications. It’s important to highlight specific skills, attributes, and experiences you have that would be an asset to your new employer.
* Do The Not So Obvious. If you’ve sent out hundreds of resumes already, and aren’t getting any responses, do something different. Put a picture of yourself up on the top right hand corner. Again, do this if you haven’t been getting any love at all, especially if your more attractive than average. LinkedIn profiles with picture profiles get clicked on twice more often than those profiles that don’t have pictures. Change your resume color to a green back ground. Make your objective statement a prediction on who will win the Super Bowl and why? Then parlay that with a follow up interview if your prediction holds true. If you aren’t getting any call backs, you have nothing to lose. If you do any one of the following things above, you will stand out and get the recruiter’s attention.
EXAMPLES OF GOOD RESUMES THAT GET JOBS
I like how Adam states right up front his objectives and qualifications. His resume is easy to read. Unfortunately, there is no GPA, and his work experience isn’t much to write home about, depending on what job he’s looking for. If he’s looking to apply as a restaurant manager, he looks like a perfect candidate. Resume Rating: 8/10.
Edgar has a classically formatted resume which I like. He must be just graduating from business school because he over emphasizes his education, and under emphasizes what makes Edgar the man. We already know Edgar went to Darden b-school if I’m reading his resume, so putting his education at the very top is wasting valuable real estate. Also, I know nothing about Edgar as a person, which doesn’t create any affinity. Resume Rating: 7/10.
Pamela’s resume has almost everything I want to see. I like how she highlights a “Profile” portion up top, lists her experience, and then her education and activities. I would love to know more about what makes Pamela tick. Also, I would consider removing her earliest work experience and expand a little more on her interests. Resume Rating: 8.5/10.
Lauren’s resume is unique because it is a classic example of an actor’s resume. The resume showcases her range as an actress in terms of tours, plays, commercials, and training. Lauren is obviously an attractive woman who has used a professionally shot picture in the top left hand corner to attract the casting director’s attention. Lauren’s phone is probably ringing off the hook. Resume rating: 9/10
James’ resume is poorly constructed because it looks like there’s a huge four year gap between when he graduated in 2001 and his current job as an accountant. You have to look closely to see that he was an Accounting Intern from 2001-2005, which as an awfully long time. James should BOLD “Accounting Intern, 2001-2005” and “Accountant, 2006 to Present” to make the resume more clear. James’ resume is severely lacking in personality and does nothing to differentiate itself from other resumes. Resume rating: 6/10
CONCLUSION – A GOOD RESUME IS STANDARD!
A good resume is standard, which also means good resumes are everywhere. If you have a badly formatted resume with glaring holes, your job seeking life is over. You might as well become an entrepreneur or work a dead end job instead, because nobody will be willing to give you a chance since you can’t even present yourself properly on one sheet of paper. Beyond the basics of resume writing, it’s the content which really helps get you an interview and that job.
The economy is picking up and the power is now slowly shifting towards the employee. If you ever plan to spend money hiring someone to help you with your resume and interview process, make sure you question the person’s background. You don’t want to hire some guy who took 12 years to graduate from McNeese State and who has never been an executive coaching you on your future. Best of luck to you all and never stop trying!
Recommendations For Job Seekers
* Refinance Your Student Loan: SoFi is a fantastic social lending company that provides rates as low as 1.9% variable with auto pay and 3.5% fixed with auto pay. The reason why they can offer lower rates than the rest is because they analyze you based on merit, quality of employment, and education besides just a credit score and financials. There is zero origination and prepayment fees. Offer terms are from 5, 10, 15, 20 years in both fixed and variable. Both private and public student loans can be refinanced.
Besides low rates, one of their best features is their unemployment benefits. If you lose your job while repaying your loans, you don’t have to pay your loan for up to 12 months while you look for a new job! Interest will still accrue, but having this cash flow break is a huge benefit. They also provide job assistance guidance as well. You can apply to refinance or apply for a new student loan here.
* Build your brand online. Why should Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, or Twitter come up when an employer searches your name? You should own your own name and brand online! The first thing everybody should do is register their own name online through a company like BlueHost. It costs as little as $3.95 a month for hosting. Once you’ve registered your name, you can then create a dynamic website with your resume, pictures, articles, and all sorts of things that will make you a better candidate for a job. Almost all employers do a search for potential candidates online. Own your reputation.
* If you’re looking to change jobs: It’s important to never quit a job, but try and negotiate a severance package instead. If you quit, you don’t get COBRA healthcare, you don’t get a severance, you won’t get deferred compensation, and you definitely will not get unemployment benefits. I managed to negotiate a severance package worth six years of living expenses (3 years of salary) after working at my firm for 11 years. I now live stress-free in retirement and enjoy working on my entrepreneurial endeavors. If you are going to quit anyway, you might as well engineer your layoff and see if you can walk away with a nice chunk of change. My book is 150 pages long and pack with information to empower the employee to walk a way with potentially a small fortune.
Updated for 2016 and beyond. The years 2016 and 2017 will be marginally tough to find work than in 2015 and prior given growth momentum has slowed. It’s more important than ever to keep your resume looking sharp and be proactive in searching for new employment.