I don’t claim to know what every hiring manager wants to see in a resume, but I can tell you that through my years of doing this and the thousands of resumes I have seen, I know what I am looking for. Are you preparing to send us your personal assistant resume or virtual assistant resume? Stop right there! Read on for some great tips before hitting “Send:”
Hiring new staff is a daunting task. You don’t like writing your resume, and we don’t like reading them. Most of us would rather work a day flipping burgers than go through a stack of resumes. (Not that there’s anything wrong with flipping burgers.) This is mostly because you guys don’t know how to write them. If all of the resumes that I received followed the steps I have laid out here for you, the process would be fun! So let’s get to it:
First and foremost, look at resume writing as your one and only chance to make me excited about you. You need to catch my attention and entice me to want to know more about you. I suggest not starting until you are in the right frame of mind. Writing your resume while you are in a bad mood is not going to translate positively on paper. Imagine that you are the one doing the hiring. Would you call you in for an interview based on what you wrote?
You have to make each resume specifically targeted for each prospective employer. If you send me a resume and your objective says: “Looking for a rewarding and challenging career with Big Al’s Hammock, Co.” you probably won’t get called in for an interview. And by the way: this is the worst way to start a resume. Everyone writes this and it’s why we hate the process. Of course you want a rewarding and challenging career. What this objective projects is: “I just need the first job I can find and get paid as soon as possible. Then probably quit.” Make sure it looks like a personal assistant resume and not a resume to work in a different field.
So how do you write a great objective? This is what the resume needs to start with. And it doesn’t have to be the “Objective;” it can be a “Professional Summary” or something else similar. It’s the opening statement; it is the part where you tell me who you are and why you are the right candidate. Bam! Hit me with it! Capture my interest. Give me a sense of your personality and spirit. Brag about yourself. The objective should be powerful and honest. Maybe you’ve never written a personal assistant resume (have never specifically worked as a PA). That’s OK! Just be truthful and make me believe that you can handle this role based on your past work experience.
We have discussed that the objective (or professional summary) needs to be at the top of the page. Along with this, to grab my attention, should be your head shot (your picture). Anyone in real estate can tell you the value of a head shot on their business cards or flyers. Your resume is your business card – in extended form. And we are all visual, especially in this age of social media and technology-at-our fingertips. I don’t want to see your picture because I want to weed out certain people, I want to see your picture because you are telling me all of these great things about you; you have hit me with a killer professional summary, and now I know who I’m reading about. It’s very powerful.
You have now captured my interest with your opening statement and I see your face so I know who is talking to me. Now I am going to skim through the next parts, which will be your work history and your education. Yes, I said skim. None of us are reading every word that you write. You already have my attention and I am relatively certain I want to interview you. Now I am gathering the tiny bit of remaining data that I feel I need to make that decision. Keep it simple. Don’t tell every detail of your last (or current job); just hit the highlights so that I have a reason to want to ask questions of you and interview you. Keep the education section simple as well. It doesn’t take many words to tell me where you went to school and for what degree. Include other things that you feel are relevant, such as languages you speak or volunteer work you have done. Still: keep it simple.
Because we don’t read every word, you need to ensure that there are no typos. You don’t want the select few things that we pick out to be the only ones with the errors. Know the difference between your and you’re; to and too. Spell check isn’t going to catch grammatical errors for you. Also please keep it to one page, because to be honest: we lose interest after that. Leave me knowing that there is more, and if I want to know more about you, I need to interview you.
Because you only have one page to get everything in and “sell me” on you, use the space wisely. Don’t list your references on your resume. Don’t use weird side columns with ten text boxes. If it’s too busy looking then it’s hard to read and if it’s hard to read I will lose interest. We’ve all got short attention spans – especially when reading resumes.
Keep it simple but not too simple. The font should be appealing, the headings should be bold and slightly larger, use bullet points or other features to make it attractive. If it looks like it came from 1946, my confidence in your computer skills is zero. You can even throw in a little colour. No personal assistant resume or virtual assistant resume should be boring. You aren’t boring, are you? Of course not!
Cover letters are great. It’s a great way to just say, Hi! Here I am and you’re about to read a killer resume. You can be more chatty and laid-back in a cover letter and it’s a wonderful ice breaker. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should be carefully proof read and it should mention my company by name and a little about what you know about my company.
Thank you for reading and I hope you found this to be helpful! I’m really looking forward to reading your personal assistant resume and learning more about you!