The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “What are the top three things you look for on a resume?” is written by William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.
I’ve seen a lot of resumes, and continue to be surprised at how bad some of them are. I recently received one that was just a name and a QR code. I don’t think I’ve used a QR code for anything, much less a resume. Needless to say, I could dedicate an entire column to my experience with bad resumes. Instead, I’d rather share the things you can do to make your resume (and you) stand out.
Here are three tips to keep in mind before submitting your resume:
Share what you’ve done, not what you would do
A future employer does not want to read the work than you plan on doing; the interview will create an opportunity for that conversation, if necessary. The best way to get your foot in the door and secure an interview is to present what you’ve already done. Potential employers will be looking to see that you’ve committed to a job in the past, not that you hope to do so in the future. After all, the single best predictor of future performance is past performance.
A good resume should be used to tell your story, not your aspirations. If a resume is dominated by lofty goals for the future, it might alert the employer that you’re just trying to cover up a lack of experience. Although experience isn't everything (I’ve hired my fair share of employees for their potential), it should be a primary focus when building a resume.
Keep it simple
It may be difficult to scale down your experience to one page, but when it comes to resumes, simpler is better. Let your past speak for itself; don’t stretch to elaborate on every task you’ve ever completed. Nowadays, it’s not hard to build up a resume with a lot of fancy details. Personally, I am the most impressed by a candidate who can communicate their experience without trying too hard.
As far as visuals go, I’m not usually in favor of them, but a picture is definitely more acceptable now more than ever. As long as it isn’t distracting from the bulk of the resume, a photo of yourself brings a personal touch that a “words-only” resume lacks. Just a small LinkedIn-style headshot at the top of your resume that's well formatted with the document as a whole can be a nice touch to include.
Give good references
References are becoming one of the most important aspects in the interview process, with good reason. Think about it: If you don’t have anyone who will vouch for your hard work, why should I hire you?
A handful of strong references will go much farther than words on a piece of paper. It’s more important to hear that you were a strong employee from an uninvolved third party rather than reading your description of previous jobs. If you have solid references and show a willingness to share them, that will go a long, long way with me. I'd suggest placing them at the bottom of your resume.
A solid resume is your ticket to an interview, which is your ticket to potential employment. Set yourself up for success by crafting a resume that reflects who you are, where you’ve been, and why you’re right for the job. It just might be the factor that sets you apart.