I have hired thousands of people over the course of my career, which means I have read tens of thousands of resumes. I’ve seen great resumes that have helped people launch thriving careers—and, unfortunately, I’ve seen plenty that have fallen flat.
A resume is your first impression on a potential employer. And in many cases, it will determine whether you get the chance to make a second impression.
At Lockheed Martin, it’s not unusual to get hundreds of applicants for a single job opening, so the competition is intense. It’s important to take the time to make sure you stand out—and stay—in a potential employer’s mind.
In my experience, a few simple steps can help take your resume to the top of the pile.
1) Don’t be afraid to delete
Your resume is not an autobiography. In fact, less is more in crafting a good summary of your skills and experience. A tight resume shows me that you can prioritize. It tells me that you can be clear, concise, and get right to the point.
It also shows me that you respect my time. Hiring managers—at any level of leadership—are busy. And the fact that they’re hiring means they likely have even more work on their plate than usual. Don’t expect the hiring manager to weed through your resume looking for experience that’s relevant to the opening. Honestly assess whether every single word belongs. Odds are, you’ll find places to trim—and that’s a good thing.
2) Re-write your resume for every job description
Don’t just send the same resume and cover letter to every job opening. Really pay attention to the job description, and make sure that your application underscores why you’re perfect for that particular position.
Companies spend a lot of time and energy crafting job descriptions to attract the right candidates. So learn from them and use it to your advantage. Job postings are great input to help you understand what the organization really needs.
When you focus your resume on the job description, and align your skills to the organization’s needs, you’re demonstrating that you understand exactly what they’re looking for. And you can better show how you are the right person for the job.
3) Show me results
Use your resume as an opportunity to showcase all your hard work. I don’t just want to see a list of previous positions and responsibilities—I want to see the results you delivered.
Did you increase sales? Did you land a big contract? Did you complete a project under budget? Did you improve customer satisfaction or employee engagement? Each of these examples is a real, tangible accomplishment—and accomplishments say more about your experience than a long list of jobs you’ve held.
Specific examples show me that you are ready and able to help the organization succeed. So for each position you list, highlight the one or two achievements you are most proud of. Demonstrate how valuable you were, and how valuable you can be.
These three suggestions are important whether you’re applying for a top management position or your first job out of school. They can help you make that first impression that will land you an opportunity to interview.