Interview with two men

Sending a resume to a hiring manager is a lot like pitching a Hollywood screenplay. You’ve got a few seconds to tell your story and show the decision maker why you deserve a closer look.

Summarizing a career of accomplishments in a one or two page resume isn’t any easier than condensing a two hour movie into a few sentences, but with the right mindset and a little effort, you can send a powerful message that makes a hiring manager take notice.

Resume tip No. 1 – Get clear on your next career move.

It is easier to create a resume targeted toward your ideal job when you know what the job looks like.

Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Why am I looking for a new position?
  • What do I want to do next – take on more responsibility, change industries or change specialties?
  • What are my long-term life and career goals?
  • What skills will I need and how do I showcase those skills on my resume?

Example of linking current skills to a new opportunity:

  • Say you want to transition from financial analysis to internal audit. A simple internet search will show you that a profession in audit values strong communication skills. Think about your current role – you might work closely with other business units to gather explanations about month-end financial results which you summarize for senior management.
  • How to display that on your resume: Communicate with 12 finance managers across business units to gather and summarize monthly financial results for the CFO.
“Know what you’re looking for and don’t try to make yourself fit into a role that doesn’t match.”
Advice from a hiring manager

Resume tip No. 2 – Make your resume visually appealing.

Your resume should be clean and organized in order to stand out against competing applicants.

How to create an eye-catching resume:

  • Use a simple font like Arial or Times New Roman and double check that the font size is consistent throughout – your font size should be no smaller than 10 points.
  • Avoid using flashy colors, graphics or pictures on your resume.
  • Use consistent headings, indenting and formatting.
  • Manage white space – an empty line of space between jobs gives the eye a place to rest, but too much white space can be distracting.
  • Manage the margins – if three lines of text spill onto a second page, slightly reduce the margins to fit those lines on the first page.
  • Choose a template that’s easy to change and looks professional.
  • Use bullet points to organize your resume, but refrain from using long, bulleted lists as your only formatting tool.
  • Make sure bullets line up, are all the same size and consistently include or exclude periods at the end.
  • Keep resume length to two pages or less.
“Your resume is your marketing document and the first impression [we have] of you. We all know how important first impressions are.”
Advice from a hiring manager

Resume tip No. 3 – Be clear and concise.

Deliver a resume that gets straight to the point and highlights your major skills and career accomplishments.

How to choose a resume format:

  • We recommend formatting your resume in chronological order backwards. This means starting with your current position and moving backwards.
  • Delete extra phrases like “I am responsible for...” and begin your bullet points with action words like improved, managed, created, advised, led and coached. Active phrases have more impact and energy. Keep in mind, all past positions should be in past tense and your current position should be in present tense.
  • Use short words like “used” and “gathered” instead of longer words like “utilized” and “accumulated”.
  • Skip general information that anyone can say about themselves such as “good attention to detail” and “great communication skills”.
  • Keep your bullet points to one or two lines.
  • Read your resume out loud to catch grammatical errors, missing words, typos and awkward phrases.
“A resume that is well-prepared and organized with more of an action-based tone really helps distinguish candidates that are managing their career. It is much easier to maintain someone’s attention with a concise ‘highlight reel.’”
Advice from a hiring manager

Resume tip No. 4 – Focus on your achievements.

Highlight your accomplishments and how those wins can make a difference to your future employer. Here’s how to put your action words to good use:

Instead of this:

Worked on the annual operating plan for numerous manufacturing departments.

Say this:

Coordinated the annual operating plan for 80 manufacturing departments totaling over $100 million in expenses.

When it comes to academic achievements, GPA is relatively important in the first few years of your professional career. After you’ve been out of school for some time, GPA becomes less important and employers focus on experience, career progression and meaningful accomplishments.

"At 0–5 years, GPA is a very good indicator of future success and I look for progression. At 5+ years I’m looking for experience, progression and meaningful accomplishments.”
Advice from a hiring manager

Resume tip No. 5 – Provide relevant information.

Your resume is a marketing piece about you, and the first rule of marketing is to always consider your audience. Take the time to tailor your resume to each position you’re applying to.

How to write a relevant resume:

  • Review the job description and include skills and accomplishments that directly relate to the job requirements.
  • Order your accomplishments from most to least relevant, then review the less important items and decide if you really need them.
  • Remove outdated skills.
  • Provide more detail on recent positions and less on positions held over 10 years ago.
  • Keep it professional. Remove hobbies, high school activities and personal attributes.
“Tailor your resume to the job opportunity. One-size-fits-all resumes can often create confusion.”
Advice from a hiring manager

Resume tip No. 6 – Everything you communicate sends a message.

Hiring managers can learn a lot about you based on your choice of words, tone of voice, grammar usage and attention to detail.

How to manage your message:

  • Review for spelling errors – spell-check doesn’t catch errors like “manger” when you meant “manager” or “detail orientated” when you meant “detail oriented”.
  • Eliminate excessive bragging – there’s a difference between confidence and arrogance.
  • Change an unprofessional email address – if your email is something like [email protected], it’s time to set up a new account.
  • Consider adding your LinkedIn profile to your resume so recruiters and hiring managers have direct access to your online professional profile.
  • Offer a balance between technical skills and soft skills – both are equally important.
  • Offer a balance between team and individual accomplishments – no one succeeds alone.
  • Seek an outside opinion before sending your resume out – it is always better to have a second set of eyes on your resume before sending it to the employer of your dreams.
“In accounting and finance, attention to detail is critical. A lack of attention to detail in the document is a huge red flag.”
Advice from a hiring manager

For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly Search & Staffing recruiting specialists can help, contact our team.

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Preparing for an audit during the COVID-19 pandemic