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Make your resume 10x more effective with these steps

Vincent Spruit has been working with job seekers for more than 14 years, and over time he has seen what works and what common mistakes people make in their resumes or careers in general. But only recently has he really cracked the code and found the recipe that makes a resume for virtually any profession 10 times more effective. In this blog, he explains in 5 steps how to build your resume powerfully.

“The sole purpose of your resume is to get to the table.”

I myself originally learned how to create a resume in college, but with what I know now, that was the completely wrong approach.A very important point to keep in mind is that it doesn’t get you a contract offer. They get to know you better during interviews, assessments and maybe reference checks afterwards. And that leads to a contract proposal.

Vincent has his own youtube-channel  where you can find even more explanations on this topic and e.g. how to ultimately put down a good job interview as well. Subscribe to his newsletter to stay up to date.

Now let’s start with the 5 steps to build a powerful resume.

Step 1: What type of job are you applying for?

It may not seem like a logical first step because most people approach a resume from their own perspective. They try to make it as complete as possible while keeping it short. However, you are not writing it for yourself. YOU already know who YOU are. You’re writing it for a recruiter or manager who doesn’t know you. It is a common misconception that your resume must be complete. It is much more important that it be relevant.

Shortening parts of your resume and increasing others does not make you a liar. The key is to create the right focus.

You are never just one thing in your work. You analyze, you network, you learn, you teach, you develop, you plan, you present, you test, you get coffee, you eat lunch, you go to the restroom … well, I assume you get the picture. It is impossible to add literally everything you have done to your resume. So, you have to leave out things that are less relevant.

To know how you will reach your destination, you must first know what your destination is. And that’s why I ask you, what position are you applying for? Is it a Data Analyst, a Data Engineer or a Data Scientist? It can’t be all three.

Step 2: Find a job profile for your ideal job or assignment

You need to know exactly what companies are asking for. How do they select the person they invite to interview?

What is the job title?
What are the job requirements?
What tools and skills do you need to have experience with?

What is the job title?

Do you use a job title consistently in your resume, or do you use slightly different titles throughout? I see a lot of people using the exact title they had in their company. They’re afraid to change it; it feels like the equivalent of lying. It’s not. For a reader, it’s just confusing. Maintain as much consistency as possible in the job titles in your resume and use the exact title you are applying to for your jobs.

For example, many different titles can be used for the same type of job: Big Data Developer, Data Engineer, BI Consultant, BI Engineer, ETL Engineer or even Cloud Engineer, DBA, Analytics Engineer or Data Scientist. It all depends on the company and what you were doing. Job titles are used differently across industries.

What are the job requirements?

Do they ask for a certain number of years of experience, a degree or specific certifications? This is hard to get around. A degree is a degree, there is no getting around that. If a certain certification is requested for the desired job, make sure you work hard to obtain it. If you know the subject, it is usually a small investment of time and money, achievable in a few weeks.

With experience, you may be able to get a little creative by adding an internship or a project you did in your spare time to your work experience. You can expand on this in a job interview, but the first goal is to get through the Knockout filters in the portal that most companies use, so you at least have a chance to show how great you are.

What tools and skills do you need to have experience with?

First question, do you have experience with all these skills and tools?

Yes, great, have you written them multiple times in your resume? It is better to write it in each work experience separately than just once in a skills column. Writing it multiple times will give your resume a higher score in job databases or an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) that companies use. Even if they only use Ctrl F, writing it this way will make your resume stand out much more and give an overwhelming feeling that you are an expert with the specific tool.
If not, can you take an online course or experiment with it in a personal project and mention it in your resume?

Step 3: Personal perspective vs. organizational perspective

Now that you know what job or assignment you want to apply for, it is important to know what parts of your career should be written down. Is there anything missing that should be there?

Choose relevance and step into the shoes of the recruiter or manager who will be looking at your resume.
It often helps to involve people close to you in deciding what is relevant. You can make a list of the things you want to include in your resume and rank them from most relevant to least relevant. For example:
1. My job at Shell,
2. my job at Amazon
3. my experience with Azure & Databricks
4. my university degree.

Remember, recruiters are lazy by nature; they want to work efficiently. They won’t bother to open links in your resume other than your LinkedIn. If you want to add information from, say, your GitHub, I recommend copying and pasting it into your resume. They won’t read everything, either.

They will first scan your resume for the relevant job title or search for a specific skill with Ctrl + F and then read only that part. So make sure the parts you consider most relevant are detailed and highly visible.

In defense of the recruiter, if you have 2 days to fill a position and you receive 50 resumes, how would you work through them? You probably try to narrow the list of 50 down to 5, based on some knockout criteria. Only the 5 best resumes are thoroughly read.

So, ask yourself, do the least relevant parts really need to be there? Have you written enough about the really relevant parts? With each section, ask yourself, What message do I want to convey to the reader? Then look objectively to see if it does.

Step 4: How do you structure your resume?

Usually a resume includes personal information, languages, profile, education, certifications/courses, skills/tools, work experience, internships/side jobs/projects, references, hobbies.

Are all of these elements necessary? The answer is NO. It depends on relevance.
It depends on relevance. For example, freelancers applying for temporary jobs usually do not add hobbies because the culture fit is less important. For permanent jobs and junior positions, they may be relevant. Seniors do not add internships and side jobs, but for a junior these are very relevant.

1 Personal information

Let’s start with the “personal information.” At a minimum, this should include your name, hometown, e-mail, phone number and job title. If you are not native, it is important to also add your language level and whether you are eligible to work here without a visa. Personally, I like it when you include a photo; it makes a resume more personal and stands out more.

2 Profile

The “profile” should be concise and contain no more than 2 paragraphs. This is a section that is often skipped by many recruiters because the content is very vague. The best way to use it is to provide a brief summary of relevant jobs you have worked for, at which companies and how much experience you have with the requested tools.

For example, “I have 8 years of experience in Data Engineering at organizations such as Heineken (2016-2018), Google (2018-2021) and Samsung (2021-present). I have over 5 years of experience with (requirement 1) Microsoft Azure, including Synapse, (requirement 2) 3 years of experience with Data Bricks and (requirement 3) 8 years of experience with Python development.”

As you noticed, I didn’t write anything about soft skills or character. These are not skills that recruiters and managers look for in resumes. We check these during the interview, assessments or by contacting references. The reason is that people usually use very general, positive and commonly accepted words that ultimately don’t tell much about how truthful they are.

3 Work Experience

From this point on, you want to present the most relevant part of your resume, usually the “work experience.” Always start with the most recent experience and work backwards (anti-chronologically). As a general rule, especially for technical jobs, consider that anything longer than 7 years ago is not very relevant and can be summarized in 1 sentence per job (period, organization and job title).

Technology changes rapidly and with it the job and environment in which you work. In contrast, the last seven years should be described in detail. I am always surprised to see people write their last 7 years in about 5 lines.

In fact, the recruiter will only judge you on those 5 lines because these are the most relevant experiences. So it’s up to you to break down the last seven years into several pieces to give them more body. Even if you have worked for only one organization in one specific position during that entire time, it is good to break it down. You can do this into specific time periods, the different projects you worked on, different departments or different clients you worked on. The work experience should be structured as follows:

a. Period – specify month and year.

b. Organization – add some information about the organization. What do they do and how big are they? This can be one sentence and gives the reader insight into even the lesser known organizations you have worked for.

c. Job title – tailor it to the job you are applying for.
For example:
“Project/Client 1 (period to period) – Job Title”.

d. Description – describe what you did and make it as specific as possible and allowed. Explain what you worked on and the solution you provided. Also mention the different steps you took and what technology you used for it.

For example, “As part of the company’s digital transformation, I was responsible for developing the data hub, a new platform designed to support the organization’s current and future data needs. In my role as Data Engineer, I used tools such as PySpark and Python to integrate all historical file deliveries, transform raw data into trusted objects via ETL pipelines orchestrated with Airflow and fed into our data lake. To ensure the success of the data hub, we implemented cloud-native principles such as Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and code reusability. These efforts were essential to create a platform that was scalable, efficient and effective in meeting data needs. In addition, I facilitated several projects related to setting up, configuring and organizing Azure DevOps projects, working in line with agile methodology to ensure that our efforts were both timely and impactful.”

For your information, be detailed, but do not write an entire book.
Use about 5 to 10 lines per year of work.In this example, the candidate worked here for 2.5 years.

e.Skills
For example, “Skills: PySpark, Databricks, YAML, Python, data modeling, terraform, Azure, Azure DevOps, agile methodology.”

f. Any certifications you have obtained during this period.
For example, “Certifications: DP-203 (data processing on Azure)”

4 Education

Write down your degree and the year you received it. Also state whether it is a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Do not use just any abbreviation such as BsC or BA assuming the reader knows what they mean.

5 Certifications and courses.

For each course and certification, list the year you earned it. For each, indicate whether it is a certification or course.
For example:
“2023: Certified Azure Data Engineer Associate DP-203.
2023: Data Processing Course with Databricks”

6 Skills.

You can list any skills you have and specify the number of years of experience with them. This will help recruiters tremendously when they have to go through checklists of requirements in portals.

Hobbies and references do not add extra value to your resume. If an organization wants to check references, they should contact you first. That way you have at least some control over when they contact you and you can inform your references. For hobbies, in some cases it can serve as an icebreaker in the job interview, but I have never seen it influence the decision to invite someone to an interview.

 

Afbeelding voorbeeld skill matrix

fig 1. Example Skill matrix.

Step 5: Design vs. practical

Now all the information should be written. The final step is to get it into a nice design. There is a common misconception that a resume should be one page. This is not a rule, but taste. While a good design is important, it is more important that the right information is there. A person cannot read what you have not written down.

In my experience, a good resume for someone with 5 years or more experience should always be between 2 and 3 pages. Obviously, design plays a bigger role in positions where you work with visualization or design, but there should always be a trade-off.

I recommend using an online resume builder, such as Resume.io or VisualCV, to make your life easier. You can use Word to write a first draft, but don’t design your resume there. There are thousands of standardized and beautiful templates available online. Just upload your resume, it will be transferred to one of the templates, and all you have to do is make minor adjustments.

Visual voorbeeld CV

fig 2. Examples Visual.com

 

Afbeelding voorbeelden Resume.io