The following are a few of my tips pertinent to creating a strong resume. Although this is not necessarily related to consulting, I thought I’d share this advice after receiving critical feedback from hiring managers over the past summer internship recruitment cycle.
1. Quantify Everything
Employers are hiring you to generate results for their company, regardless of the position being at a large corporate entity or a small, family restaurant. Therefore, you need to show a credible experience of results, and there’s no better way to do that than to use numbers. Things like “Stocked shelves” or “Sold clothing” should turn into “Expedited shelve stocking process by 20% via creation of product location map” or “Maintained exceptional customer service translating to 15% above average weekly sales compared to my peers.”
It may be hard to find things to quantify if you’ve worked in customer service or primarily qualitative positions, but remember this, you would never have been employed in the first place if you didn’t produce tangible results for that company. Therefore, take whatever you did that drove value and quantify it on your resume.
2. Don’t Make the Employer Do ANY Work
If your resume includes an ambiguous, unknown company name or abbreviations that are not common to the industry you’re applying to, you must explicitly explain what the company does or what the abbreviations stand for. For example, if you worked as a general manager for a small, upscale restaurant named The Cove, you must explicitly explain what The Cove is or what industry they’re in on your resume. If the hiring manager is not familiar with The Cove, then they will have to inference the nature of the company from your position description or search the company up online. Once this happens, you lose points due to a lack of clarity on your resume. The proper way to present this case would be:
The Cove (Upscale Restaurant) – General Manager
3. Be Able to Speak to Anything Written Down
AKA don’t lie about positions held or inflate results. This is important because not only can you lose a shot at a position if the hiring manager does their research, it will also save you from having a nervous breakdown when an interviewer asks about something you didn’t really do. Of course, lying on paper is an unethical thing to do, but the worst part about lying is the embarrassment of being caught red-handed during an interview when you can’t explain your position with a company or what you did to receive an award. And trust me, managers can see right through a made-up answer or if you’re winging an explanation.
Keeping all your content truthful and honest will instill confidence in yourself during interviews because you will have genuine answers to question like; “tell me about this position?” or “walk me through your resume.”
4. Tell A Story
All your previously held positions should show a consistent progression to one common goal and make sense to the hiring manager as to why you’re applying to their specific position. For example, if you’re applying to an entry level marketing position after graduating university, your progression in the marketing discipline should be consistently displayed throughout all your previously held positions and experiences. First, you can show your initial interest in marketing through a sales associate position you held in high school, which eventually led you into working unpaid in social media for a startup, leading into a marketing internship at a commercial bank, and then concluding with you being the brand ambassador for that bank on your school’s campus. This progression will show that you are consistently learning with every new position you undertake and be clear to the hiring manager why their position is the next step in your career.
5. If It Doesn’t Matter, Scrap It
This might be hard if you’re trying to fill space, but it’s necessary to create a strong resume. Everything on your resume should catch the eye of your hiring manager and should add value to your portrayal as the right candidate for the job. This means removing high school education if you’re a university student (unless you went to a prestigious high school), removing positions that have almost no relevance to the position you’re applying for, and removing experiences where you didn’t generate results (IE; being a general member of a school club or being an attendee to a conference).
Always look at your resume objectively as if you were a hiring manager looking at the resume of someone you never met before. Would you hire yourself? Does everything on here make sense? Why are you applying to my company? If you can answer these questions, you are well on your way to first round interviews.