Do you have that "perfect resume" to apply for your PM job?

In our previous article we looked at mastering the job search process (Read it here). In this article, we will focus on resume building.
According to a study, recruiters spend an average of 10 seconds on a resume before moving on. If that holds true just imagine if all the resumes look alike.
Let me start by emphasizing that “perfect resume” is a myth. A Resume needs to match the requirement, which differs for every opportunity and hence there can’t be a standard resume. Here are a few guidelines to help you build a resume for your next application:

1. Tailor-made 

One glance at your resume will tell an employer if you wrote it specifically for the company or if you created a one-size-fits-all document. If you customize your resume to address the company’s business problems and your capacity to solve them, it would indicate to the recruiter that you have put in special efforts in the application process and that you have a keen interest in that role. Employers would always prefer candidates who would like to go above and beyond.
Go through the Job description and try to understand and identify the special skills or traits that the employer is looking out for and ensure that you highlight those particular skills rather than the ones which won’t be relevant for that job.

2. Length of the resume

Recruiters do not read your resume; at the max, they do a 15 – 30 seconds “spot check” of your resume. When your resume is too long, it just takes off your best achievements and dilutes it with more mediocre content. While you may think a longer resume allows you to show off more of your traits and achievements, in reality, it usually causes your reader to get bored, become confused about why you have applied for the job, and then toss it aside.

  • A good thumb rule is to keep your resume to one page if you have less than 8 years of experience or at the most two pages if you have 8+ years of experience
  • Showcase the most relevant aspects of your experience and why you’re qualified for that particular job
  • Moreover, if you think you can’t get your resume to one page, you just need to think about what is really important for a recruiter to see

3. Layout 

How you actually layout the content of your resume is as important as the content. It should be easier for the recruiter to scan over the resume and quickly get important pieces of information.

a. Top 1/3 of the Resume: It is the prime marketing real estate

The top 1/3 of your resume is the critical factor in determining whether recruiters will read on or if your resume lands the rejection pile. If a hiring manager doesn’t immediately see a compelling message in that portion, he or she will move on to the next resume, thus it needs to be a snapshot which makes the recruiter read through the entire resume.

b. No “Objective” please

It doesn’t tell much about you.
It just states in a wordy way what you want. The company already knows that because you applied for a particular position, they are more interested in what you can provide.
The focus of your resume should be on what value addition you can provide if you are hired for that role.

c. Don’t use any run of the mill statements. Instead, write a professional summary

Write about:

  • What you are great at and passionate about
  • Why you are a perfect fit for the role
  • Areas of expertise indicating your overall knowledge

d. Bullet points

It is a great technique to draw the recruiter’s eye to your key points. Anything that feels like a paragraph might not get a good read thus better to keep your bullets to one to two lines.

4. Employment section 

Talk about your work in terms of accomplishments and not tasks. Most of the job seekers write their employment section as the job description of that profile. Employers do not care about what you were expected to do at your last job, what matters for them is what you can do for them and for that they want to see some concrete examples from your previous jobs/experiences that point towards it. And obviously they can’t see through your past and see how you were at work, it’s your responsibility and in your hands what you show them.

a. Highlight the outcome

If you are a developer who has worked on a website or an automation project, there could be 2 approaches to mention this employment experience
Approach 1: Detailing the job responsibilities or tasks involved
For example. Requirement gathering, Analysis, and Review, Designing, Testing.
This approach may increase the length of your resume without adding any value since the recruiter is already aware of the tasks involved in an automation project.

Approach 2: Highlighting the outcomes

Highlight how you saved no. of man-hours for the company because of this project.
The 2nd approach serves as an Indicator of your problem-solving abilities; it shows your potential of saving money for the employer in the future.
Read through the below phrases talking about the same employment experience and think which one sounds better:
“I was responsible for improving the Staffing and On-boarding process for my company.”
“I led the project of overhauling the staffing & onboarding processes for my company through which we were able to achieve a 60% reduction in onboarding cycle time and ~700% increased auto candidate data completion.” 
Now, the second statement is a powerful accomplishment.
However, that can’t be true for everyone. There is a chance that you might not be involved in work where you would have saved thousands of dollars for the company or tons of hours but that doesn’t mean that you have no achievements to share on your resume. You always have a chance to make your achievements concrete and specific by making them quantifiable.

b. Quantify your achievements

Routine co-ordination or operations related tasks can also be portrayed in a better light by putting figures against those tasks, hence giving them a look of accomplishments. For eg. No of the customers/stakeholders you catered to is a good indicator of your collaboration and management skills.

5. Short term projects or unpaid work

Job seekers sometimes think that only jobs which were paid are worth to emphasize in the CV and short term/unpaid or voluntary projects don’t count. But it’s a huge mistake to ignore these jobs, especially for people in their early stages of career. These projects could well exemplify the traits that the employer would be looking for. There is a possibility that the employer would have similar traits or remarkable achievements to share from their projects which could have been voluntary or internship. So don’t forget to highlight those projects or experiences gained.

6. Final review

Last but not least, there are basic things which we tend to ignore but have a great impact: basic design sense, legibility, font, grammar, typo errors. Always check for these mistakes. You may also get your resume reviewed by someone.
Now that you have your “tailored resume” to apply for the targeted job opportunity, What next?
Imagine that you’re in charge of hiring a candidate for the PM role in your company, and you’ve narrowed it down to two strong applicants. What will you do to zero down on one candidate?
Check out my next article on “Do you need a digital profile to land a PM job?”

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