A reader writes:
I find myself unemployed again because I moved with my husband for his work. As part of his relocation package, I’ve been offered the help of a job coach.The first thing my job coach did was retool my resume. This is my first experience using this type of help and I’m on the fence about it. Even though my coach asked me a million questions to tailor my resume (that part I did appreciate), when I got it back, instead of the profile I had, it read “Job Title Goes Here,” followed by a list of keywords and skills.
I have never seen this before and it looks a little weird to me. When asked about it I was told it’s to allow the recruiter to know exactly which job I’m applying for and to frame the rest of the resume so that it shows exactly how my background aligns with that job. Or for networking so that others know what type of work I’m looking for.
Still, it seems a little strange to me, and I’m wondering if I should heed her advice or go back to my original use of a short profile at the top of my resume.
So, my question to you is, should I put the exact job title of the job I’m applying for at the top of my resume?
I’ve seen people do that here and there, and while it’s not the worst thing in the world, it does come across a little strangely. Assuming that you’re not actually a Teapot Coordinator II or a Marketing Director or whatever the job title is, it’s a little jarring and presumptuous to see that splashed across the top of your resume as the main headline. Or, if by chance that is your current title, it still is just an odd use of really valuable space.
It’s almost like the old-school (and now thoroughly out of fashion) objectives that you used to see at the top of a resume, which people often used to incorporate the job title they were applying for (“objective: to gain the position of teapot director”).
Also, just listing the title up there in big font does nothing to “frame the rest of the resume so that it shows exactly how your background aligns with that job,” as that job coach claimed. The rest of your resume might show that, and your cover letter hopefully shows that, but slapping a title you don’t currently hold up there doesn’t achieve that.
And in the vast majority of cases, hiring managers don’t need you to put the title there. They know what you’re applying for because you say it in the opening to your cover letter, and often because you applied through an online application system that has already funneled you into the correct place in their applicant pool. And if you’re networking, you’re not just handing people a resume — you’re having a conversation with them.
It’s far more helpful to have a profile at the top of your resume that captures in just a few sentences or bullet points what you’re all about. That truly does frame the rest of your resume though a useful lens (or at least it does if it’s done correctly, as opposed to just summarizing the rest of your resume, although the latter is all too often the case).
Also … that list of keywords and skills she put right below it? Get rid of that. You can put a skills section at the end if it’s truly relevant for the type of work you do (in some cases it is, and in other cases it ends up being little more than filler), but it belongs at the end, not the beginning. Employers want to know what you’ve done, not what your self-assessment is of your traits and skills. People’s self-assessments are notoriously inaccurate, and those keywords and right-at-the-top skills sections tend to be stuffed full of stuff that no hiring manager will take your word for (“visionary leader,” “strong communication skills”) and which you’re far better off demonstrating through your actual accomplishments using said skills, which should go in your work history section.
I’d ignore this person’s advice.