The Quest for a Better Resume: Let’s Talk About Content
Resumes are hard. Always have been, always will be. It’s hard to write and talk about yourself. It’s even harder to boil years – or even decades – of experience and accomplishments into a few short pages of text and visuals.
This guest post comes to us from Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in Supply Chain Management and Procurement.
You’re probably more focused on your job than keeping a resume updated, and if a few years pass in between the times when you need a resume, you often find that resume trends have changed, and it’s hard to know how to format it, what to include, and what to leave out. It’s easy to feel lost because, of course, resume writing is one of the toughest tasks of any professional.
Let’s revise that slightly: it’s easy enough to write any old resume, but it’s difficult to craft a document that actually boosts your credibility.
A recruitment firm like Argentus is something of a resume clearing house. We see them all: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We see resumes that have up-to-the-minute style, as well as resumes where we have to brush off the cobwebs as we double click on the attachment in our inbox. We’re frankly bored of the latter. That’s why we’re doing a new miniseries on the Argentus blog, called The Quest for a Better Resume. We’re going to dive into some key aspects of resume writing and give examples to help you craft a resume that wows hiring managers and, hopefully, us!
In the first installment of this series, we gave some tips for boosting your resume’s style, which is something that sadly doesn’t get enough attention in fields like Supply Chain and Procurement.
Today, we’re going to dive into the Content side of things and help answer: if you’re a professional in Procurement, Supply Chain, or any of their related fields, what exactly should go on a resume and what doesn’t belong there?
Read on to hear our advice!
Supply Chain and Procurement professionals make their careers by extracting relevant insights from complex sets of data. So it makes sense that they’re often skilled at loading their resumes up with valuable content – even if their resumes lack visual panache. The resumes we see tend to be stronger from a content perspective than an optics perspective – but there are still common shortcomings in terms of what people choose to write on a resume.
So when it comes to content, what does a bad resume look like?
Obviously, the worst resume is one that doesn’t show that the candidate has any relevant experience, or one that misrepresents that experience. But let’s take it for a given that you’re a professional with a solid background, trying to communicate the breadth of skills and work experience that you’ve accumulated:
- A bad resume tends to be overly stuffed with buzzwords. It tends to talk a lot without actually saying anything, full of words like “self-motivated,” “detail-oriented,” “team-player” – qualities that you shouldn’t have to put on a resume. These kinds of qualities are “table stakes” for getting an interview. They should be self-evident when the hiring manager speaks to you in person – on a resume, they come across as empty.
- It might tend to contain irrelevant experience, or show a lack of focus. This flavor of resume tries to be all things to all people – the resume equivalent of the job seeker who applies to every job we have, without tailoring their resume to one particular niche. We get that often people do have a wide variety of experience – some professionals at the director or VP-level have touched on every aspect of the Supply Chain, from inventory management to procurement to distribution. But you should tailor your experience to the role for which you’re applying.
- It talks about “duties fulfilled” instead of accomplishments. We’ve blogged a lot about how important it is to create an accomplishment-based resume. Bad resumes tend to read like job descriptions instead of describing what the person has delivered to their employers.
- It has extra info that isn’t relevant. Trends are always changing in terms of what info your resume should (and shouldn’t) include, and it can be hard to keep up. But as of late 2017, headshots, marital status, personal info, and links to multiple social media profiles are distractions from what’s important.
With these common shortcomings in mind, what approach should Supply Chain and Procurement professionals take when trying to write a resume that impresses?
- Show, don’t tell. This old writer’s adage is also the best rule of thumb both for avoiding buzzwords and packing your resume full of impressive accomplishments instead of squandering the precious few seconds that a hiring manager will dedicate to your resume. Don’t just say that you’ve “increased cost savings,” show the amount of money that you’ve saved, and how you did it. Speak in terms of numbers: how many people did you oversee? What size of budget were you responsible for? Don’t just say you have “exceptional communications skills,” show it by presenting a resume that’s concise.
- Include the meat, not the fat. As recruiters in Procurement and Supply Chain, there are a few pieces of vital information we’re looking for when assessing a resume – beyond the accomplishments we mentioned above: if you’re in Supply Chain, what aspects have you touched on? (e.g. inventory management, logistics, warehousing, distribution, sourcing). What software do you have experience and skills with? (e.g. SAP, ARIBA). If you’re in Procurement, what categories have you purchased in? (e.g. raw materials, information technology, marketing, etc.) This is key information that sometimes gets lost within long bullet-pointed lists of “duties.”
- Less can be more. Similar to how white space is important from a visual perspective, concision is key when it comes to content. Try to write your resume with more action verbs and fewer adjectives.
If you’re like us, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of the resume advice floating around the internet is distressingly general – shouldn’t it be obvious that resumes need to avoid typos, grammatical mistakes, and incorrect contact information? So hopefully these tips give a bit more detail about how to approach a resume’s content in a blue-sky way.
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