10 Steps to Writing the Perfect Resume (and land your dream job in the process)
This resume guide is different from what is found at college or government career centers. In academia and government, theory reigns supreme. Here, practical experience of actual business owners is what counts.
J.D. and I put this resume building list together to give people the knowledge we had to learn the hard way. Our professional experience spans retail, design, sales, professional sports, hedge funds, property management, and commercial real estate. Combined, J.D. and I have recruited, interviewed, hired, and fired (unfortunately) hundreds of people. We've been hired, fired and laid off ourselves. We've worked for the government and the private sector. We've started and sold companies. We've pitched dozens (maybe hundreds) of investors and VCs. In short: we've been through every step of the recruiting process, as both employees and employers. This resume writing guide reflects the totality of our learnings from both of our careers. We hope it helps!
We put this list in outline format to make it easy to read and even easier to follow.
- Make the recruiter care about you.
- What is great about you?
- Nobody cares about your acronyms unless they REALLY care about your acronyms. Use them judiciously.
- Do you care about this company? If yes, why?
- Who is going to read your resume?
- Don’t pander.
- Be yourself. Be authentic. Own who you are.
- Don’t write what you think people want to hear. You'll most likely end up awkwardly missing the target.
- Don’t be lazy - no forms, no mail merge, etc. If you want someone to read your resume with care, prepare it with commensurate care every time.
- Be concise: one page is enough for everyone.
- Only list your highest academic credentials.
- Only list two academic accomplishments if the second one is truly exceptional or if you have yet to participate in the professional world.
- For those interested in more, create a website with details on your experience. Put the link on your resume.
- Professional experience first, education last.
- Only list key outcomes, accomplishments (quantifiable is best, where you moved the needle).
- Risky vs. Safe: What type of company are you applying to?
- What fits your personality best?
- What fits your career goals best?
- What fits your family situation best?
- Understand the trade: risky = more freedom, more upside, more possible downside; safe = less freedom, less/capped upside, more stability.
- Make your resume reflect your particular objective function.
- What are you applying to do vs. what have you done?
- What have you earned?
- What have you accomplished where high consequences were present?
- What skills do you have that matter going forward?
- Fight the urge to look backward, since resumes do this naturally.
- If you have any outsized skill, put it on your resume…even if it has nothing to do with the job.
- ”I can operate a 5-Axis Haas CNC machine (link to pictures of your work), even though I’m applying to be a Field Training Specialist b/c of whatever reason.”
- Get attention: be creative, but be professional.
- Tell your story and share formative experience(s).
- Explain gaps: did you get more or less valuable during the gaps on your resume? Did you learn?
- Demonstrate your capabilities.
- Demonstrate how you think.
- Prove how you create value with facts, skills, examples.
- How will you take things off your future boss's plate?
- What are you great at and what are your limitations?
- Write your resume so you will get the right job, one you’ll love and be great at.
- Don’t apply simply to create options/leverage.
We hope you found this resume writing guide to be helpful. If it resonated with you, we encourage you to check out our Job Openings here.
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