Guest contributor Perry Newman shares his tips for writing a killer resume.
Most have come across the term Killer Resume in blogs, webinars, resume writing workshops, ads, and on LinkedIn. Yet, I wonder how many of us know what it means or how to craft one. In my vocabulary, the term means a resume that consistently generates quality job interviews. With that in mind, let's get into the ingredients behind a killer resume.
To begin, consider this: People who screen large quantities of resumes for a living start with a quick scan of what I call the Kill Zone. The kill zone is the top third or half of your first or only page and is where screeners attempt to determine a candidate's quality. Some don't even get to your cover letter and those that do will still want to have scanned a resume that backs it up after an initial scan.
Accordingly, that killer resume begins with the kill zone. This is where you establish your personal brand, paint a compelling picture of your fit for a role, give evidence of past performance, and distinguish yourself from the competition.
Proper format and content are another set of challenges in creating that consistently successful resume. Since there is no universal style or format for a killer resume, the choices you make are dependent on a multitude of factors. However, certain resume styles and formats function better based on your job title, industry, and career stage.
Here are some considerations for your killer resume's kill zone:
1: In the top header, I recommend that you include any and all certification acronyms along with your name if they are relevant such as CPA, PMP, CPC, etc.
Do the same with an academic degree if the posting and/or recruiter convey that an advanced degree is a big plus. Academic information should otherwise stay in your information section, where a recruiter might be specifically looking for it.
Perry Newman, CPC/CSMS
Jack Brewster, MBA
2: Modern literature disagrees on brand or objective statements placed directly below the header. If you're applying for a more technical position or straight-forward role, using fluffy language about what you want to do next probably won't help a recruiter make a decision. However, if you have something relevant to say to efficiently summarize and make relevant your experience, or have recently done something particularly impressive, you can include a one-liner.
Keep these away from feeling personal or overly aspirational. You want the reader to consume a quick bite and then move to the next part of your resume.
Recently led a startup team through a successful series C fundraise and growth period.
Seasoned sales manager with experience successfully leading tens of millions in quotas.
3: Standard resume convention places education information at the tail end of a resume. However, if your academic credentials are impressive or in some way offer you a competitive edge, I recommend placing the education section in that top half kill zone rather than hiding it at the back of the resume. This is especially true for early stage, one or two page career resumes.
Relevant cases to move education to the kill zone: Graduating with honors from an Ivy League school and applying to a top tier investment bank or having a specialized degree such as a B.S in Fashion Merchandising from FIT and applying for a training program at Nordstrom.
4: Placing a keyword text box of core competencies in the kill zone can be valuable in some industries, highlighting skills that you'll back up later in the resume with the experience you've had in the past.
Don't add a huge laundry list but instead a considered list of skills the reader is looking for as a key component to their decision making process. This holds especially true for IT/software, financial, or engineering skills.
5: If you have world-class accomplishments related to the position you're applying for, placing them in the kill zone in a short statement (in addition to inside your cover letter!) is a sound tactic to make sure to drive that point home.
Example: You drove a brand new product to a million users and that's exactly what the potential employer is looking for.
6: Although not at all a common practice, inserting recommendations from hyper relevant, super credible individuals in your kill zone can do wonders in particular cases. It works in instances when used in conjunction with a strong resume and while applying to a stretch position that calls for further vouching of your skills by a credentialed or well-regarded third party.
There are more ways to take advantage of the kill zone and these are only a few. Keep in mind the tendency of recruiters and screeners to read that top third of your resume and use it as a lure to get them to dig in. Good luck.