To be honest, I’ve never had to submit a resume. I’ve always landed my jobs through people I know. When I was between my current and previous jobs, I put together a very professional resume, but I ended up not even using it for my current role. I’ve hired assistants and reviewed hundreds of resumes in my role, however, so I do know enough to be dangerous.
That said, I’m going to invite an expert on the subject to help me out. My friend Al-Husein Madhany has some amazing resume tactics that work wonders for assistants and administrative professionals. I’m excited to share an overview of his methods with you in this co-authored post. Thank you, Al-Husein for sharing your wisdom!
The Purpose of Your Resume
Most people think the purpose of a resume is to get a job. That’s not true. The sole purpose of your resume is to pique the interest of a recruiter or hiring manager in about six seconds—just long enough for them to pluck it out of a pile and want to schedule an initial phone screen with you. Your resume will not get you a job or help you get to a second interview.
Your resume is an 8.5-by-11-inch piece of paper that recruiters force you to use as a means of marketing yourself to them. No emojis. No gifs. Not even color. Just black and white. Period. How are you supposed to stand out in a crowded marketplace in which everyone’s resumes look so similar? Again, your resume will be reviewed for an average of six seconds—assuming a human even sees it.
More and more companies use machine learning in high-volume recruiting for roles like software engineers and executive assistants. The applicant tracking system feeds your resume into a machine that spits out a number based on trigger words and how closely the words on your resume match the core job description. The higher the number, the more likely your resume will make it in front of a human for a quick review. It can be harder to get a job at some companies than it is to get into Harvard University, so how do you stand a chance of getting your resume seen?
How can you make your resume pop?
You’ve got to make your resume memorable to properly market yourself to the recruiter who grants you seconds of their attention. The following core tenets and sections of a resume are based on tactics that Al-Husein has employed for hundreds of administrative professionals. These assistants used this resume methodology to successfully land phone screens that led to life- and career-changing jobs.
Five Core Tenets of a Resume
First, let’s review the five core tenets of a memorable resume.
Tenet 1: No Mistakes
The first key is to double-, triple-, and quadruple-check for typos, poor punctuation, incorrect dates, and other errors. Have a few friends or a coach review your resume to be safe. Assistants are expected to be detail-oriented and can’t afford to make mistakes. If a recruiter sees a mistake on your resume, you’re toast.
Tenet 2: Less Is More
Keep your resume to no more than one page long. Remember: Your resume will be reviewed for just six seconds. If it’s one page, you have a higher chance of the recruiter seeing the important parts. Also, make sure there’s lots of white space. Don’t cram it all in. Rather, leave most of it out.
Tenet 3: Limited Formatting and Intentional Bolding
You want to use some formatting to highlight interesting and important tidbits; just don’t go crazy with it. But do be intentional about your bolding. For example, if you managed a budget of $1 million in one of your roles, you definitely want to bold that piece of information and not the education section of your resume.
Tenet 4: Metrics (If You Can’t Measure It, It Doesn’t Matter)
Executives love data, so be sure to include things you can measure. For example, if you led a team of five assistants, include that. If you supported a project that helped increase your company’s revenue by 15 percent, include that as well. Were you responsible for saving the company money through the processes you set up and deployed? Measure it, then bold it. On your resume, lead with data, not drama.
Tenet 5: Machine Learning Compliant
Many companies use software to scan resumes initially, so your resume needs to stand out to machines too. If you’re applying for a role and the job description includes project management as a key element, be sure to include the term “project management” in a prominent way on your resume. If a role you’re interested in has the term “jack of all trades” in the role description, adapt your resume accordingly. In fact, submit a different resume for every job you apply for. Yes, every job. Why? Because your resume must reflect the details of the job description, and each job description is different.
Seven Sections of a Resume
Now that you know the core tenets, let’s review the seven sections to include on your resume.
Section 1: Who You Are
Include your name, city, phone number, email, and entire LinkedIn URL. Your name should not be the largest font on the page. Why? Because your name isn’t memorable. You’re a stranger to the recruiter and likely always will be.
As for your email, don’t use a Yahoo or Hotmail email address. Use a Gmail or Outlook email instead. If you don’t have one, create one.
Section 2: Who You Are in the Workplace
This is where you use large font. List three or four attributes, in big words, underneath your bio data section—things like “chaos tamer” or “project manager,” for example. Choose phrases that describe what you will do for the executive, should they choose to hire you.
Section 3: Core Skill Set
This is where you regurgitate what’s on the job description you’re applying for. If the role responsibilities include descriptors like resilient, diplomatic, or tech savvy, include them in your core skill set section, and selectively bold them.
Section 4: Lead with Impact
This section is for you to list anything notable you’ve achieved in your career that might differentiate you from others. Again, you can bold select phrases throughout, but don’t go overboard with formatting.
Section 5: Relevant Experience
In this section, briefly list your professional experience, if relevant. For example, unless you’re applying to be Executive Assistant to the CEO of Taco Bell, you don’t need to waste ink letting them know you ran the Taco Bell drive-thru window in college. In general, don’t take more than two or three inches of space, and do your best to stick to one line per role.
Section 6: Education
In this section, list the certifications, education, or specific training you’ve received. Don’t list everything, and make it short and sweet. It’s preferable not to include graduation dates.
Section 7: Passions
This section is not for you to list your hobbies. Instead, include a couple of your passions. In one word, or via a short phrase, talk about what you love. Show them you’re a human too. For example, if you know the recruiter or executive you’re applying with loves dogs—and you do as well—then list dogs as a passion. Be transparent about who you are as a person, but communicate it via tight, pithy wording.
Get Step-by-Step Guidance
The above tactics from Al-Husein will help you craft a perfect resume, which is a key part of being a game-changing Leader Assistant. Be sure to connect with Al-Husein on LinkedIn if you have any questions about his tactics.
If you’re itching for more, you’re in luck. Al-Husein and I put together an in-depth online video course where he walks you step by step through how to build a memorable resume. The course is called The Assistant’s Guide to Crafting the Perfect Resume and it includes a copy of a proven resume template for assistants.
For a limited time, get 75% OFF the resume course using the code RESUME75 at checkout. Enroll now at resume.assistantsguide.com.
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