Figuring out what to include on your résumé can be a real headache. Too much information, and you risk overwhelming the reader. Too little, and you might not stand out from the crowd. The trick to striking the right balance is including the most effective information, especially things that might catch a hiring manager's eye. Here are 10 surprising items you might want to include on your résumé.
Conventional wisdom says don't talk about politics at work, but surprisingly, experts say including political stances on your résumé is a good way to see if you are a good fit for a company.
"Every job seeker wants to find common ground and a connection to the company or hiring manager," said Chris Westfall, a professional development coach and author of "The New Elevator Pitch" (Marie Street Press, 2012). "What better way to make a connection than through the causes that you support? If you support causes that are not encouraged by your employer, that's something you need to know before you accept the job!"
Lots of details
Don't worry that you'll overwhelm the person reading your résumé with too much detail. Details about your responsibilities at past jobs will help a hiring manager decide if you're a good fit.
"Hiring managers want specific, quantifiable examples of your past successes, not mere job descriptions of past positions you held," said Charles Purdy, senior editor and career-advice expert at Monster.com. "Find a way to tell stories of how your past work improved a company's or organization's bottom line, and use those numbers."
The last items you'd think belong on your résumé are the things you did wrong at your last job, but one expert says featuring your failures can actually help you get a job.
"One non-intuitive thing employers want to see on a résumé is failure," said Phil Rosenberg, president of reCareered.com. "Employers want to see that you've tried, failed and learned from your failure, all on a prior employer's dime. This demonstrates innovation, willingness to teach risks, [and] faster reaction and response time. It is also a learning experience, and failure teaches success."
Details about your travel experience might seem out of place on a professional résumé, but that's not the case, one recruiting expert says.
"I love to see job seekers who have spent a decent amount of time abroad, [whether] for education, employment or volunteer work," said Rachel Dotson, content manager at ZipRecruiter.com. "This type of experience suggests several important things about the candidate. For example, they are not afraid to leave their comfort zone, they are aware and independent, and they have worked in unfamiliar situations with unfamiliar groups. While there is no guarantee that these characteristics are true of every person who has gone abroad, the experience itself is certainly enough to pique my interest."
Even if you think that some of your past jobs are trivial, one expert says they may still help you get a job. Cody Teets, author of "Golden Opportunity: Remarkable Careers that Began at McDonald's" (Cider Mill Press, 2012) said employers know that working at a fast-food restaurant isn't easy, and it can help a job seeker’s resumé stand out.
Teets, who is now vice president and general manager of McDonald's Rocky Mountain region, said employers value the things that workers learn at their early jobs. At McDonald's, for example, workers learn to operate as part of a team, to challenge themselves and to roll with the punches, all skills that will come in handy at any job.
Lest you think using a QR code (Quick Response code, or matrix barcode) on your résumé will make you look a little too eager, one hiring expert said, it will actually have the opposite effect.
"Even if the QR code might only contain a link to the person's LinkedIn profile, or their phone number, it shows a comfort level [with] and knowledge of technology," Bruce Hurwitz, president and CEO of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing.
Even if potential employees are working on side projects unrelated to the full-time job they are seeking, it may be worthwhile to include those efforts on a résumé, one expert said.
Any kind of side venture, side business or project that could be indirectly related to the full-time work you're pursuing is a good idea, said Dana Leavy-Detrick, small business consultant at Aspyre. "This is a great way to show employers that you're using your own time to acquire and grow skills outside of the job that will help you develop and contribute in the long-run. It's also a great way for job seekers to engage in the type of work and learn the type of skills that really interest them."
Awards or recognition
One expert also suggests job candidates should forget about being humble and should brag a bit on their résumés. In particular, you should be sure to include any past awards on your résumé.
"One thing that top employers consistently seek out is proof that a given candidate is uncommonly talented or driven," said Mike Junge, a recruiting, staffing and career expert. "This is particularly true if the talent or drive is directly relevant to the job at hand, but it's also true for applicants who have competed at a high level in other areas. High-performing companies are always looking for an edge in the marketplace, and having a team of competitive and passionate employees on board can provide a significant advantage."
Don't be afraid to ditch the traditional résumé and try something different, one expert says. One option growing in popularity among many job seekers is a video résumé.
"Including a link to a video résumé is a great way to set yourself apart from the crowd and impress hiring managers," said Josh Tolan, CEO of onlinehiring-network, Spark Hire. "On video, job candidates can show off their personality, communication skills and ambition. It can help hiring managers get a better insight into the candidate and will allow them to envision how the candidate would fit into the company culture. Employers want to see job candidates who are confident and able to come up with creative solutions to common problems, and video résumés are a great way to” demonstrate just those qualities.
Even if you don't play anymore, competing as an athlete can help you get a job.
"Many hiring managers proactively search for and prioritize candidates who have played college sports, particularly as part of a team sport," said Susie Hall, president of talent agency, Vitamin T. "Most often, those candidates know what it takes to function as part of a team, from pulling your own weight to jumping in to do what's necessary to win. If they've carried a sport into college, they've had to work that into a busy schedule and cut into precious free time. So they're likely to know how to juggle priorities. They are also inspired to win."
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