“I’ve Never Needed a Resume, So Why Start Now?” Part One

At Select Resumes, over 90% of our clients looking for a resume already have one they have written themselves and have bolted on new jobs and qualifications as the years go by. But a significant minority have either never needed a resume due to word of mouth promotions or are just starting out on their career.

In the past, it was not unusual to find work from within a network of friends and get hired based on a simple handshake. Many people have had one primary job and have held it for several years, decades even. Even if they had a resume then, they likely do not have a current, up-to-date one now.

Perhaps you are a mature job seeker and feel unprepared to look for a job. In this case, you should take the time to assess your qualifications, skills and achievements, and determine your current marketability. You may not appreciate or even realise that you might actually have a competitive advantage over a younger person. Your past work, volunteer experiences, your wisdom gained just from having many life experiences, plus the widening gap in the skilled workforce, all count in your favour in today’s job market. In addition, you most likely have established a large network of friends and acquaintances that you can now draw upon as a resource. Undertaking a thorough assessment of yourself, knowing your resources and showcasing your best in a resume are great ways to get started. It may seem daunting to corral all your accumulated experience into one concise, compelling document, and there may be some information that is simply not relevant anymore. But this is not a reason not to have a resume; it is actually a good reason you absolutely should have one – In today’s changing world, things change fast, and you need to be ready to move with those changes. 

“I’ve Never Needed a Resume, So Why Start Now?”

For one thing, resumes are no longer – or very rarely – printed out, at least not during the first several reads. Instead, they are read on screens of all sizes, from desktops to mobile phones. Why is this important? The human eye reacts quite differently online than in print. Screen reading is much tougher on us than when something is printed out, and small screen reading is even harder than large screen reading. Therefore, resumes written explicitly to be printed out often do not make the cut. Get your resume screen-ready by replacing dense text, like a five-line paragraph or a series of single-line bullets clumped together. Opt for bullets or paragraphs that are two to three lines long. White space on a resume is good; it gives ‘breathing room’ to the reader. Insert at least a half-inch of white space in between each and every paragraph or bullet you create. Also, grab the attention of the reader. You have heard of, or read about, screenwriters ‘pitching’ their latest show or movie to a producer in a succinct, easily digestible one-pager? Same thing with your resume. Studies indicate your resume has seconds, not minutes, to make an impression. That means the salient points of your career must be quickly identifiable and allow the reader to easily connect the dots with regards to how your experience can solve their needs. In all honesty, you will be 90% on the way to making the interview shortlist purely based on page one of your resume. The rest is simply underscoring and validating what the recruiter has already discerned about you. 

But within your job history – go for achievements rather than responsibilities. The recruiter wants to understand the bottom-line impact of your success in past roles. By quantifying this, rather than outlining your areas of responsibility, the reader will be able to make the connection about the impact you could make in your next role. Remember to show context when including data or figures. For instance, if the standard annual growth in your industry is 12% and yours is 25%, this will make a far greater impression than if you had just stated you grew revenues 25%. Same with saving downtime in a trade’s role – what was the money saved by bringing that machinery back online in 12 hours instead of twenty-four? 

So yes, you may have gotten by without once needing a resume, and it is possible you will continue to do so – but the smart thing to do is to be prepared. In Part Two, we will look at those who have never had a resume and think there is nothing to put there. In fact, there is plenty!

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