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Secrets to an Amazing Resume – The Steve Jobs Way

January 5, 2012
Various Books on Steve Jobs

I recently went on a family vacation to Costa Rica for the holidays.  During this trip, I spent hours roaming around several airports waiting for my connecting flights.  As I browsed through the bookstores (honestly, just to kill time), I could not help notice all of the published books, articles and magazines about Steve Jobs.  Much has been written about the impact he has made with building one of the top branded companies in the world.  He did this by designing cool, simple and graceful products that anyone can use.  He also left us with so many pearls of wisdom that could be applied to both business and life.

As a recruiter, I’ve come across significant number of resumes on a daily basis.  By noon time, my eyes are blurry from reading so many dull and poorly written resumes.  Let’s face it, we have been programmed to use a certain template with the same format and the same old blah, blah blah.  Unfortunately, the traditional resume has not changed much over the last 40 years and yet it is difficult for job seekers to really standout from the crowd.  So I wonder what lessons could we adopt from Steve Jobs that would allow job seekers to showcase themselves differently and maximize the effectiveness of their resume.

The following are 3 lessons inspired by Steve Jobs that can be applied to creating an amazing looking resume, the Steve Jobs way:

Secrets to an Amazing Resume

Lesson #1:  Design for simplicity:   Most job seekers use a resume to capture every little thing they have done rather than highlighting relevant experience and skills for the position they are applying.  It looks like they try to squeeze as many words as possible in every available space on the paper, which at times can read more like a novel or an autobiography.  The Steve Jobs way is to keep it simple – less is sometimes better.  Don’t try to clutter your resume and try to fill every white space.   Take time to prepare your resume by reviewing and listing relevant achievements, skills, experiences and strengths.  Be sure to highlight skills and achievements that are directly related to the positions that you are targeting.

Insight #1Have your friends read your resume for a quick 30 seconds and then put it down.  After a minute or so after reading the document, ask them to summarize what they have just read.  If they can’t recall the key points of what they have just read then you should try to simplify it even more.

Lesson #2:  The experience starts in the box:  I’ve been a big Apple fan since the early days of the Macintosh computer.  After every Apple purchase, I would get excited before I even turned on the device.  Steve Jobs and Apple attached some kind of wow factor that got people talking and made them think they must have the product (Yes, I admit it.  I’m one those people). Regardless if it was a Mac, iPod, iPhone or even an iPad, Apple products are all designed to easily to take it out of the box and install.  The Steve Jobs way is to focus on a plug-and-play model so that the user can begin to have fun and create insanely great experience with the product.

Insight #2Your resume should have the same effect.  Before you start writing your professional profile on paper, you should first think about your very own career identify and decide the best way to brand yourself.  Basically, what is your professional domain expertise? Is it sales, engineering, marketing, management, etc.?  Then instead of writing an objective statement, you should write a headline statement.  This should be a clear and focus statement that highlights your value proposition and showcases your unique set of skills that differentiates you from others.  Do not make the experience difficult for the recruiter or hiring manager by including so many complex descriptors or buzz words.  Your resume should read more like a sales pitch.  Think about how you are going to catch the recruiter’s attention.  To do this, you need to understand the job opening that they are recruiting for and craft a headline statement that is going to draw attention.  Describe yourself like a Twitter headline – 140 characters or less that describes the problem you solve in a way that makes it worth listening to or re-tweeting.

Lesson #3:  Make it stand out.  When Steve Jobs unveiled Apple products to the world, he did so by creating a vision, an image.  He didn’t just come out and say, here’s our next generation of a Mac laptops or MP3 players.  He used clever descriptors to create an emotion from the audience.  For instance, he introduced the MacBook Air as “It’s the world’s thinnest notebook” or when he introduced Apple’s iPod as “1000 songs in your pocket”.  Such statements create a buzz and an emotional reaction like a loud wave of applause.

Insight #3Resume submittals have reached overwhelming levels where corporate recruiters spend an average of 10 seconds sifting through piles of resumes on a daily basis.  Think of your resume as a custom designed marketing tool developed to capture the attention of a prospective employer – within 10 seconds or less!   That’s how long it takes a reader to formulate a first impression and that’s how long you have to create an impact.  Consider yourself as a product you are selling to potential employers and recruiters.  Consider what the unique selling proposition or the quantifiable accomplishments as well as the soft skills that you possess that make you an attractive candidate.   Keep in mind, resumes do not need to be covered with different fonts and have bold, italitics or bullet points – just keep it simple (refer back Lesson #1).  Allow recruiters to comb through your resume with ease and focus more on your key achievement that demonstrates what you can do for the company.  Communicating your professional qualifications quickly and effectively will determine your chances of being considered for an interview.

One more thing (bonus):  Since this post is my homage to Steve Jobs, it won’t be complete without his iconic ‘one more thing’.  So here’s my one more thing…  A resume is meant to highlight your experience and attract recruiters or hiring manager to connect with you and further explore your candidacy.  Get rid of “Reference Available Upon Request” – this is useless to a recruiter.  Instead, use this space to be creative and leverage social media sites to complement your resume by providing additional work-related information about your experience, skills and competencies such as a blog, FacebookTwitter or YouTube video.   Spark the interest of recruiters and try to leave them wanting more.  In general, recruiters are naturally curious individuals and they will do a little more digging to find out what you are all about if you engage them.

Insight (bonus)LinkedIn allows you to integrate certain applications to create more robust profile so that you can link a presentation or video to showcase your work directly on your profile.  By providing additional information to your profile may cast a wider net to recruiters or potential employers for you to begin to engage a deeper conversation for positions that you may be suited for.

Do you have some suggestions on how to create an insanely great resume the Steve Jobs way? We’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and suggestions.   Like us and join the conversation.

Happy job hunting and as they say in Costa Rica, Pura Vida!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2012 6:05 pm

    i love your blog, i have it in my rss reader and always like new things coming up from it.

  2. Edward Avila permalink*
    January 28, 2012 8:08 pm

    Thanks for the nice words. Let’s us know if there’s ever a topic or subject that you would like us to cover. Cheers, Ed

    • February 29, 2012 9:20 am

      Excellent advcie. It is devastating to have your resume distributed to the masses by a recruiter using your resume as the worm to hook a fish. I’ve been in situations where I had a definite relationship with a corporate client, presented a candidate I felt to be a fit and then heard the company already received that resume, unsolicited, from another firm. The firm didn’t have a fee agreement in place with the company and the candidate was off limits. Definite shame.I also agree with the bit about Monster and CareerBuilder bit. Recruitment fees aren’t small potatoes. Companies are often charged 15-30% of the annualized salary of the candidate. Let’s say you are a $75,000/yr Controller. A company is hardly going to be interested in paying a fee in the area of $15,000 for someone they could have scooped up on an internet job board.

  3. February 28, 2012 11:11 pm

    I’d say its best not to show up “unannounced” to drop off a ruseme. Either send it in the mail, or make an appointment with HR director. Trust me – it annoys people to have to take time out of their busy schedule to find some awkward way to tell you to go away. Take it from someone who regularly turns people away – being persistent is good, being annoying is bad. Showing up unannouced is annoying.


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