Author: Larry Medina (Head of Career Services, Alumni & Corporate Relations) at ESSEC Asia-Pacific
I recently shared two career tips focused on developing your résumé. One was on understanding the purpose, and the other was on putting it together. This time, I’ll share how to make your résumé interesting.
I often tell students that a boring résumé is a bad résumé. This is one of my favorite topics that I’d like to expand on this week.
It might seem obvious, but many students do not think about this when building a résumé. Yes, skills are the most critical to get through the process, but if a thousand people apply for a job, at least five or more will likely have the right skills.
It then comes down to other factors to get the interview. This is where being interesting can be vital.
Describe your success, not list it
There are two main components to being more interesting. The first is to be more descriptive and specific in writing your achievement statements. Here is an example: you could note, “Managed a large construction project,” or “Managed the construction of a USD$120 million cement factory in Indonesia.”
The first statement is quite forgettable, even though it shows project management skill sets. Because the second one is more specific and descriptive, it is significantly more interesting and memorable. After reviewing a stack of résumés, the reviewer is more likely to remember the second statement. Let me take a second look at the Indonesia cement candidate — the reviewer might say.
To be interesting, do interesting things
The second component is doing interesting and relevant activities. This could be studying and working in multiple or interesting geographies.
This happens over a more extended time and may not be possible for all. However, I encourage you to find opportunities to boost your “interest” score when they come along.
My first job after university was in Alaska and for many years, interviewers would say, “Wow, Alaska. How was that?”
Another way to demonstrate interesting, relevant activities is through the “other” or “miscellaneous” section used for sports, performing arts, hobbies, and volunteer work. Listing one or two other activities can demonstrate relevant skills and show how interesting you are.
Please remember that it is necessary to demonstrate action. If your hobby is “watching movies”, that is passive, generic, and boring. “Write a weekly blog reviewing horror movies that amassed 5,000 followers”, now, that is better because it demonstrates action and is specific.
You may ask, “Is this really important?” When a reviewer gets to the final five candidates, all will be qualified to do the job. Will the reviewer shortlist the person with no interesting activities? Or will the reviewer shortlist the woman who’s climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and the man that is an amateur standup comedian? Giving yourself just a bit of flavor can be a deciding factor.
To recap, a boring résumé is a bad résumé. You can make your résumé more interesting by being more descriptive and specific in stating your achievements and responsibilities. You can also add your sports, hobbies, and volunteer work to show how interesting you are. Do not be afraid to let a bit of yourself shine through.
Larry Medina is the Head of Career Services, Alumni & Corporate Relations at ESSEC Asia-Pacific Business School. For more career tips, follow #careertipswithlarry. Read previous tips from this series.