Resumes and I have a love/hate relations, I love to hate them. Well, I used to anyway. In my younger days I didn’t put much effort into crafting a resume that would actually get me a job. It felt like homework to me and that was something I just didn’t want to do. When the time came that I HAD to find a job or live in a van down by the river, I decided to throw away the crayons and brown paper bag I had been using and got serious. Once I got serious about it and learned how to put together a great resume I quickly found a job. The manager at McDonalds didn’t really require my resume but he was so impressed that I could use a "fancy computin’ machine" that he thought I would make a great cashier. In all seriousness, I have been very successful at creating resumes that get me the ever important interview and I would like to share with you some of what I learned.
Before you pick out a facncy resume template and start typing away you need to decide what type of resume to use. The most common is the chronological format which typicallystarts with your work history with your jops listed in reverse chronological format. Usually this is the type of resume employers like because they can quickly view your where you have worked and when. If you have large gaps in your work history you may choose to go for a functional resume which puts focus on your skills and experience instead of where you have worked. Finally there is a hybrid of the two which puts your skills and experience first then lists work history next. It is important that you use the one that will benefit you the most, not the style that you think looks the best. If one way isn’t getting you callbacks try something different. The most important thing about your resume is that it sells you in seconds.
A lot of people will tell you your resume should fit on one page, this concept is completely ridiculous. The length of your resume is not as important as how easy it is to read. Recruiters are not going to marvel over how your resume fits on one page when it uses 22 different fonts with Hello Kitty bullet points and is printed on flouresantorange paper. Just make sure that the length of the resume is appropriate for the list of skills and work history you have to present. As a rule of thumb less than five years should only require one page, beyond that you can go to two. If you have more than 50 years of experience in a given field than your resume will probably be even longer than that.
This can be very painful if you are on a job hunt and have several positions you are applying for, but you want to make sure you are tailoring your resume towards specific job requirements. Look at as though you are writing a sales pitch to market yourself. You only have a few seconds to show hiring managers and recruiters that you have what it takes to do the job they are looking to fill. If you take the time to target each resume towards the job they are hiring for you should definitely make the cut. Just remember, sell yourself. Your resume is not the time to be humble; it is the time to shout from the mountain tops how awesome you are. Think about what type of qualifications and experience would you want to see if you were the person doing the hiring.
Nobody cares about your objective, they care about your experience. Objectives used to be standard on resumes but I think people who in HR have become numb to them. Nobody cares about your buzzword-y two sentence objective that doesn’t really say anything. Your goal with the first part of the resume is to show what you bring to the table not impress with your creative writing skills. I have tried resumes with and without an objective and I found that it is much more beneficial for me to just leave it out.
Many people go overboard when designing their resume simply because they can. Microsoft Word makes it very easy to use lots of colors, font types, and other "stylish" elements. Do yourself a favor and fight the urge to "pimp out" your resume. Use only one font type and make sure that font is easy to read, Comic Sans is tempting but completely inappropriate unless you are apply to work as a comic book writer, and even then it is questionable. Make the font large enough that it can be easily read. Use nothing smaller than a 10 point font. If you have to go smaller to fit everything on the page you either need to do some editing or use a second page. Please don’t bold, underline, and italicize everyting, use these styles to highlight important parts of your resume such as headings and the names of your former employers. Keep in mind that if your resume gives the reader a seizure you are probably not going to get a call back…unless the position is for someone who gives people seizures.
Now that I have provided some information on writing great resumes it is time for you to get busy. Go buy some ink for that printer that you haven’t used since printing ASCII porn in the late 90′s and some white paper and create the ultimate sales pitch for yourself.
If you have any resume writing tips please feel free to share them in the comments.