A Killer Resume and a Drop-Dead Outfit

Apr 17, 2015

Let’s talk resumes for a minute. It’s true what they say, a killer resume could be the difference between getting an interview and suffering through another month on Top Ramen, so getting it right the first time matters. Same with the interview, actually. You don’t get a do-over if you show up in cut-off shorts and flip flops, so dressing right for the interview is important. Actually, the correlations between a killer resume and a drop-dead outfit are quite significant. Let’s discuss a few of them here.

Avoid the Mini Skirt

A high school English teacher once said (or rather, every high school English teacher once said) that a good essay should be like a mini skirt: long enough to cover the topic, but short enough to keep it interesting. A killer resume is much the same. Turning in a three ring binder of your accolades and successes is usually a waste of the poor tree’s life it took to print it. Contrarily, a resume with little to no important information leaves you looking as vapid as the white spaces left on that sheet, so shoot for something in the middle.

Just like a nicely tailored, appropriately fitting skirt or pair of trousers can say a lot about you in an interview, so can one to two pages of a killer resume. It shouldn’t be too hard to keep your resume to one to two pages, whether you graduated last year or 20 years ago. Weed through the information carefully and then make cuts of things that just aren’t pertinent. Include your qualifications, work experience, education and awards, and then let your LinkedIn or other social media website tell all the other awesome things about you. When the day of the interview arrives, weed through your closet, keeping the mini skirt in the back and pull out that power suit.

Keep It Clean, Man

When reading a killer resume, the first thing an employer is going to notice will be grammatical or formatting errors, taking it from killer resume status to D.O.A., or Dead On Arrival. Regardless of whether you are applying to be a high-powered executive or a lower-level intern, mistakes on your resume often equate to unintelligence or laziness. Proofread, proofread, proofread, and then get someone else to do it too! A killer resume is one that has been put through the ringer several times, so to speak.

On the morning of the interview are you going to go in with sloppy morning hair, noticeably wrinkled pants, a stain on your shirt or broccoli in your teeth? Of course not! You’ll hopefully spend a few minutes in front of the mirror giving yourself a quick lookover and then you’ll ask someone you trust if you look presentable or if there is anything you missed. Your resume is a representation of you, so make sure it is clean of any mistakes. Use spell check and grammar check, print your resume to make sure it formats well, set out your outfit the night before, and for heaven’s sake, no broccoli on the day of the interview, unless it’s for a celebratory dinner!

Matchy, Matchy is Good

Ok, don’t get confused on this one. We’re not saying that your outfit needs to be perfectly matched (red shirt, red pants, red socks, red shoes – not even Target wants to hire that guy) but rather that your resume should match the job you are applying for. A killer resume is the product of one who has taken the time to match the skills and experience you have gained in the past with the ones that the job opening requires. Make your resume pertinent to the job qualifications. Your goal with a resume is to draw in the attention of the reader, so make sure there aren’t a lot of details included that will bore the interviewer or leave them wondering how you’d fit in.

When it comes to an interview outfit, the same advice applies. It’s ok for your interview outfit to match the job you are applying for. Again, don’t get too carried away here. Obviously we’re not saying that if you are applying for a job at the American Red Cross that you should come dressed as a vampire (at least we hope that’s obvious – it’s pretty safe to assume that there are very few job interviews where you should come dressed as a vampire) but you may not need to come dressed in a power suit if you are applying for a job at a frozen yogurt shop. Of course, look your best, but try to match what you wear to the level of job you are applying for. Chances are you will feel pretty awkward if you show up dressed in a three-piece suit if the interviewer is in jeans. A button up shirt and slacks may have been the better choice.

State the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth

A killer resume is going to have two main sections. The first section is where you tell about your qualifications, making sure that they match the job you are applying for, and the second section is where you prove how or where or why you have those qualifications. The second section is really the beefy part of the resume where you list work experience and education. Saying you work well in stressful situations, but not showing on your resume where you have had the chance to prove that will get your resume tossed in the generic pile. Claiming that you’re a great team player? Make sure you show when you’ve worked in a team before. If you make it to the interview stage, you don’t want it to look as if you lied when they ask you to verify what is on your resume. Chances are though, if you haven’t backed up what you said, its not a killer resume and you aren’t getting an interview anyway.

On interview day, follow the same guidelines. Come dressed in a way that represents who you really are. If you don’t ever plan on wearing that awful dress again, wear something else to the interview that looks professional but that represents who you are. You are presenting who you are and who you will be as an employee in the future so stick to a version of yourself that you are comfortable with and is an honest representation of the real you.

A Killer Resume, the End of the Line

A killer resume doesn’t have to be the elusive white elephant you hear about but never seem to snag, you too can write one! Just make sure the length is appropriate, the presentation is flawless, you match yourself and your qualifications to what the job is looking for, and that you honestly represent who you really are and what you have really done. Once the interview arrives, and we’re confident it will, if you dress according to the same guidelines, you won’t look like a carnival monkey, and that job is as good as yours. So open that laptop, follow these guidelines, and sit down today to tackle that killer resume.

About the Author

Charlie Kimmel

As President and CEO, Charlie has dedicated his 25+ year career to executive search at Kimmel & Associates. Charlie began his career at Kimmel & Associates in 1990 as a Recruiter. In 1993, he graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where he received a BA in History.

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