• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Current trends in resumes

Resumes or curriculum vitae have not remained static over time. They have continually evolved along the lines of formatting, key elements and medium of delivery. While we acknowledge that there is no universally agreed 2014 format for writing resumes, there are however, areas of commonality that are agreed to be best practice in the field.

For the purpose of this article I will use the resume and Curriculum Vitae (CV) interchangeably. The popularly agreed key difference between the two is that resumes are shorter 2-page summaries of skills, experience and education, while the curriculum vitae is more detailed and longer – containing publications, awards, research, affiliations’, achievements etc.

I have opted to view the current trends in resumes from a Nigerian perspective and therefore avoided a lot of the resume developments that are growing abroad but will take a while to berth in corporate Nigeria. Such trends include, but are not restricted to, Social Media resumes, Infographic resumes, Facebook resumes, and Video resumes.

It is important for the job seeker to keep abreast of those trends in order to ensure that they place a striking and functional resume before prospective employers or recruiters. Below are some current trends worth incorporating in your resume or CV preparation.

Master resume: It is important to create a master resume where you constantly add and update numbers, figures, accomplishments, and successes you’ve had over the productive years of your career. I recommend that you add vital information to the master resume once a month.

Anyone who has recently had to sit down and write their CV from scratch will attest to how difficult it is to gather all your accomplishments, numbers, timeframes, and even past responsibilities together in detail. It is also off this master resume that you can prepare the customised versions of your CV when you want to apply for a position that has caught your fancy.

Cover letters: Cover letters have again begun to assume importance to both corporate and consultant recruiters in recent times, especially in the Nigerian situation. Particularly in this day and age of smart phones and the evolving, totally unprofessional text-message language, the cover letter tells the recruiter that the potential candidate can at least communicate in regular English.

This has assumed even more importance in Nigeria in view of the dwindling standard of higher education. With many graduates unable to put correct sentences together, a cover letter shows the hiring manager your writing style, spelling, grammar and choice of words.

Gone are the ‘old school’ one or two-page cover letters that literally contain all the data in the Curriculum Vitae and replacing it is the considerably less wordy, email cover letter. The email cover letter is typically shorter than the traditional one, slightly less formal and usually not more than 2 or 3 paragraphs.

Achievements in each job role: The hiring manager or recruiter is increasingly more interested in what you have achieved in previous employments than in your description of the responsibilities of the role. Itemise (or ‘bullet- point’) your achievements in all the organisations where you have worked and be very specific about them in your CV.

For example, “Increased customer base by 50 percent in 2012’’ or “moved turnover from 1 million to 10.5 million in 2010’’.While the description of the responsibilities in the role is still relevant, most hiring managers will typically ask you to explain them at the interview stage. But it is your achievements however, that will get you into the next stage in the recruitment process- the interview stage.

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers: Quantifying the details of your CV as much as you can is a dominant trend you must reflect in your resume-add the numbers, data, and figures! Were you a team leader? How many people were on the team and what did you lead them to achieve? Did you cut costs? By how much? Did you grow the sales revenue? By how much? Within what time frame? It is critical in modern resume writing to always add the numbers.

Numbers always jump out to the resume reader, whether corporate or consultant recruiter and they are usually easier and faster to read and assimilate. If you have already prepared a master resume, it should not be too difficult to extract and add the numbers to your CV. Remember to focus only on facts and figures and avoid extraneous and generalised information in the resume.

Think minimalist-the lesser the length of the modern resumes, the better, though not at the expense of content that can sway the decision in your favour. In other words, remove terms like “team player”, “excellent communication/written skills”, and all those other overused terms and phrases that find their way into so many resumes.

Use of matching words: Hiring managers and recruiters prefer resumes where the key concepts in the job description for the role match those in the body of the resume. It is advisable that these keywords be used both in the cover letter and in the body of the resume.

It makes the resume sifting easier for the recruiter, especially if he has a high volume of CVs to go through. A second compelling reason to use keywords in your resume in 2014 is that IT-based application tracking systems now being used by many big firms are based on searching out key words pertaining to the role.

The use of photographs on your resume: The ‘jury’ is definitely still out on this one – there is no consensus of opinion if photographs should be used on your resume. My recommended ‘rule of thumb’ is that if you are applying for a role that requires physical visibility e.g. customer service, receptionist, some sales roles, etc. it may be advisable to add a photo to the resume.

Typically, it should be a passport size photo and it should be carefully taken to enhance your best features. It is usually placed in the top right-hand corner of the resume. Remember you are trying to get your resume selected and move to the next stage of the process; so if you believe your photograph will swing things in your favour, go right ahead.

Avoid resume templates and commit to customisation: Resume templates are easily available on the Internet and a large percentage of jobseekers are using them. However, note that both company and consultant recruiters averagely devote six seconds to each resume and typically read only the top third of the material.

The need for a differentiated and eye-catching CV is therefore very high. In the same vein, always customise your resume to suit each position you are applying for. Sometimes this can be as simple as changing the position title, job targets or removing irrelevant keywords. The more the resume is tailored to the specific position, the higher the chances of getting an interview.

The layout and font: Yes, I can tell you authoritatively that the layout, arrangement of sections, attention to detail and flow of your resume do make a lot of difference to the internal and external

Recruiter! The type of font that is chosen, use of white space, bullet-points, typographical errors, etc most times makes the difference between a dumped CV and one that is given a second look.

Proof-read thoroughly: The current unemployment rate Nigeria in 2014 is 23.9 percent. If you must emerge from this pool, remain in employment, or change jobs to something better, avoid typographical errors like the Ebola plague. Proof read thoroughly by yourself and then give to at least three other people to read. Chances are, they will spot any typos or spelling errors that you may have overlooked. Nothing gets your resume thrown in the trash can more quickly than a bunch of errors because you neglected to proof-read.

Internet/social media visibility: This is the age of the internet and smart devices. Job seekers in 2014 must maintain their visibility in cyberspace and must place their resumes and profiles where they will be seen by the internal and external hiring managers. Some of the popular and growing media are below:

A. LinkedIn and other social media: It has become absolutely necessary for the job seeker to have a LinkedIn profile. Through LinkedIn, you can connect potential hiring managers and sell your strengths and capabilities. Make it easy for them to find you (and make sure they’re finding the right YOU on LinkedIn) by including your personal LinkedIn profile URL on your resume.

B. In addition, hiring managers are using Facebook, Twitter, and other similar media to profile candidates for ‘job fit’ into the roles they are hiring. Be careful what you say about yourself or post in social media!

C. Other resume design media: Though not popular in Nigeria yet, resumes are being designed and communicated through different media such as Visualise.me, which creates a resume for you which the creators have described as “beautiful, relevant and fun and allow people to express their professional accomplishments in a compelling personal visualisation”. They see themselves as the future of resumes. (Check them out on-line at Visualise.me).

D. Another innovation that is gathering momentum is the QR Code – quick response code which is a bar code that can be scanned by smart phones to download or link information from the back of a business card. In other words, prospective recruiters can download your CV through your complementary card! Video resumes are also beginning to get noticed. Some companies, especially in cutting edge IT are beginning to request for video resumes.

E. Personal branding on social media: Personal branding, by definition, is the process by which we market ourselves to others. As a brand, we can leverage the same strategies that make these celebrities or corporate brands appeal to others. We can build brand equity just like them.

Remember that your impression about yourself will typically be how people perceive you. While we may not go into too much detail in this somewhat vast area, suffice it to say that the process of personal branding starts by first of all discovering and articulating your personal brand.

The tools you will now use in creating the brand include your resume, business card, portfolio, blog, video resume, email address, wardrobe, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, etc. The challenge is that if you do not brand yourself, your potential employer will; and his perception may not do you justice.

In conclusion, Job seekers have to be more proactive, thorough and internet savvy in 2014. The objective is to place your resume before the internal or external hiring manager, get it noticed and get invited to the interview stage. You have just six seconds…!

CHINEDU DURU