Episode #5 – The Importance Of A Resume And How To Build A Great One

The Importance of the Resume and How to Build a Great One

Teresa: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help organizations acquire top talent, while helping professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that improve their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the importance of the resume and how professionals can build a great one. Hello, Stacy.

Stacy: Hello, Teresa. I’m glad to be here.

Teresa: I imagine that you get a tremendous amount of questions from job seekers and candidates about their resume. Is that correct?

Stacy: That is correct. People are definitely interested in what they can do to make their resume stand out, and they should. It’s one of the most important parts of the job search.

Teresa: Can you talk for a moment about why it’s so important?

Stacy. I sure can. There’s an ebb and flow to the whole hiring process. One stage of the process leads to another stage, which leads another stage, and the resume is the starting point.

For example, the resume helps a person secure a telephone interview. The telephone interview helps that same person secure a face-to-face interview. Then the face-to-face interview brings the person closer to getting an offer of employment.

Without a great resume, you decrease your chances of moving through the various stages of the hiring process and getting where you want to go. Remember this, your resume is your ticket to landing the interview.

Teresa: What about LinkedIn? Hasn’t that almost replaced the resume these days?

Stacy: Absolutely not! I can not stress enough the importance of having an up-to-date resume on hand at all times. You resume should be “recruiter ready”, ready to go at all times in case a recruiter or employer calls you. I’ve had numerous professionals refer me to their LinkedIn profile instead of sending their resume, and that is NOT an acceptable practice for people who are trying to grow their careers. In fact it is lazy. It drives me crazy when I ask someone to send me their resume and they say, “See my LinkedIn profile.”

What I do recommend is updating your LinkedIn profile at the same time you update your resume, and keep them both consistent, but LinkedIn has definitely not replaced the resume in terms of importance. People who try to use their LinkedIn profile in place of their resume bring their credibility and candidacy into question right off the bat.

Teresa: How important is keeping both your resume and LinkedIn profile as updated as possible?

Stacy: Extremely important! I have a couple of stories that illustrate this point.

I was working on a search for one of my clients, and I had a suitable candidate for the position. This was a candidate who had worked at the same company for 20 years. The problem was that he had not updated his resume during that time.

As you might imagine, he had a difficult time remembering everything he’d accomplished in the past 20 years. It took him about two weeks to update his resume. Even then, it probably was not as good as it could have been if he’d consistently updated it along the way. To make a long story short, he did not get the job, and the fact he didn’t have his resume ready was definitely a factor.

I also recently submitted a candidate to one of my clients, and one of the first things the hiring manager did was check the candidate’s LinkedIn profile. The problem was that their profile did not include the candidate’s current employer. In other words, the profile was out of date.

Even though this was a solid candidate with good credentials, the hiring manager rejected them, saying the candidate was not current with technology. When you submit your resume, assume that the hiring manager is going to look at your LinkedIn profile after they receive it. More than likely, they are looking at your profile on other social media outlets, too, like Facebook, so be mindful of how you present yourself on social media across all platforms.

Teresa: Wow, those are a couple of great examples. What’s your recommendation when it comes to updating your resume?

Stacy: I recommend that professionals update their resume every six months, at a minimum. Ideally, your resume should be updated every time you do something that warrants an update. That would ensure that it would ready at a moment’s notice, should an opportunity become available.

That also goes for your LinkedIn profile. As I mentioned, top-level executives are often busy, which makes this difficult. That’s why at the very least, you should update your resume and your LinkedIn profile at least every six months. Don’t let more than that much time go by.

Teresa: That is great advice Stacy. What other mistakes do people make with their resumes?

Stacy: Resumes have changed and evolved over time. Unfortunately, some people are still stuck in the past and they have things on their resume that are outdated.

One of those things is an objective statement. The reality is that employers don’t really care what your career objective is; they care about what their objective is. That may sound harsh but that’s why I recommend using a professional summary, which describes more of what you bring to the table for the employer, not what you want from them. It comes down to being a give rather than a taker in a sense.

Another thing that’s outdated is an email address from an antiquated provider. America Online was once the leader in email service, but that was a long time ago. That’s an extreme example, but you should put your email address “under the microscope” and think about the message that it sends. I recommend using a Gmail address instead of an AOL address. You will look more up with the times.

You also do not need your complete home address. All you really need is the city and state. That’s because the hiring authority needs to know how much travel is involved if they interview you and what relocation is involved if they hire you. If you don’t have a location they might not even bother to call you because they don’t know where you live and are too busy to find out.

And you should not include a photo. For some reason some candidates feel compelled to include a headshot with their resume. This can also send the wrong message and it is distracting to employers. Do you want to get passed over for an interview because the employer doesn’t like your tie or the color of your blazer? See what I mean? It can be distracting.

Lastly, do not list “references available upon request.” These days, it’s understood that you have references ready, should somebody want to see them. It’s an outdated statement that was a common practice 20 years ago, but not today.

Teresa: Here’s a question that everybody might have on their mind: do people lie on their resumes?

Stacy: Unfortunately, people DO lie on their resumes. That’s something that I’ve seen time and again during my career as a recruiter. I’ve also seen resume inflation where candidates will overstate their experiences and qualifications.

According to a CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,500 hiring managers in the summer of 2015, 56% caught candidates lying on their resumes. The most common lie was about skills or capabilities. Not only that, but 25% of the hiring managers in the survey also said they’ve seen people claim to be employed by companies that they never actually worked for.

Unfortunately, I have many stories involving candidates who lied on their resume and about other things. One those things was about whether they were employed or not. Something like this happened earlier this year. I was talking with a candidate, and he said that he was employed. My next call was from an employer that said they had just gone through some layoffs. The employer gave me a list of the people laid off, and the candidate’s name was on the list. It’s far better to be upfront and honest at the beginning of the process and to tell the truth. The truth always comes out in the long run.

Teresa: Other than what you’ve mentioned so far, what are some of the best practices for constructing a great resume?

Stacy: Well, there are five main things that people should keep in mind when constructing their resume.

First, make sure that it contains your name, your contact information, and your home city and state. As we talked about earlier, you do not need your complete address. Include your cell phone number with that contact information and also include your email address, since email correspondence is common during the hiring process.

Also as we’ve already discussed, do not include an objective statement or a mission statement. Instead, use an executive summary or a professional summary. If you state your mission or objective, then it might not line up perfectly with the organization’s mission and current opening. But if you list an executive summary, then it might more closely align with the company’s expectations.

Third, when listing your work history, list it in reverse chronological order and make the work history as relevant as you can to your job search. Also tailor the resume to the specific job for which you’re applying. This level of customization is important.

Once again, as we’ve already discussed, do not include your photo and also do not use any unusual formatting. A person’s resume goes into what is called an applicant tracking system, and if the resume is strangely formatted, then it might not be imported. Present a Word document for your resume and not a PDF. The reason is there are so many different types of PDFs that there can be formatting problems. In my own experience word resumes are easier to search in applicant tracking systems and you want to be found in the employers ATS.

Finally, make sure that your resume is no longer than two pages. Most hiring managers only spend about 30 seconds looking at a resume. If it’s three or four pages long, then they’ll lose interest and they certainly won’t read or even scan the whole thing.

Teresa: What about proofreading? I’ve heard that not only should the person proofread their resume carefully, but they should have other people proofread it, too.

Stacy: That is absolutely the case. It’s not enough to just proofread your resume yourself. You must make sure that is 100% free of spelling and grammatical errors.

I was recently on the phone with the hiring manager of one of my clients. He was making a decision between two candidates for one of his open positions.

Both candidates had interviewed well, and the hiring manager liked them both equally. He was having a tough time deciding which candidate he would make the offer to, until he reviewed the resume of each person more closely.

The hiring manager noticed that one of the candidates had a grammatical error on their resume, and the other one did not. So he decided to make an offer to the candidate who did not have a grammatical error on their resume.

People must remember that they’re not competing for a job in a vacuum. They’re competing against other professionals. As in this example, when the competition is close and the hiring manager is having trouble deciding, little things can mean all the difference in the world.

Teresa: Do you have additional resources available for those people who want to create a great resume?

Stacy: I do. There’s a section on The VET Recruiter website that shares tips and tricks for writing a great resume. Listeners should visit www.thevetrecruiter.com and then click on “Candidates,” “Career Resources,” and then “Resumes.” While you’re on the site, you can also browse through our job openings and submit your resume.

Teresa: Stacy, thanks so much for sharing your expertise about resumes today.

Stacy: Thank you, Teresa. I look forward to our next podcast!
Links for supporting statistics:

http://time.com/money/3995981/how-many-people-lie-resumes/