Monday, January 5, 2009

Resume Tips - Basics

*Originally posted Oct, 2005

So there's a lot of information out there about resume writing. Well, why not offer another one? This is coming from a recruiter with experience in various industries and feedback from hiring managers. Take it for what it's worth. If you're smart, you'll take this seriously.

*A good resume is straight forward, simple, easy to read, detailed, and well organized. If I thought people would understand what that meant, I would stop here but 90% of people do not. Yeah, no exaggeration, 90% of you out there have poor resumes or resumes that could use serious improvement.

A hiring manager should be able to determine if he/she wants to bring you in for an interview within 5-7 seconds. People are simply too busy to waste time figuring out a puzzle or a mess of a resume. The number one rule - keep it legible and well organized.

Common mistakes #1: Formatting.
A common mistake is to over-format with numerous types of font, using tables and cells, and decorative color schemes and pictures. Anything outside of just Bold, underline and italics is unnecessary. Most hiring managers aren’t going to be impressed with decorative resumes. Rather they are interested in finding skilled motivated people who can do the job. Keep it simple and easy to read. Do no more than bold or underline headings. Use Italics sparingly.

Common mistake #2: Length.
No need to write a book. If the hiring manager wanted to read a novel, he’d do it at the comfort of his own home and nobody's impressed with how verbose you can be. In fact a resume that is too long will have managers questioning if you lack some basic common sense skills.

Short concise sentences or bullets to highlight key skills and accomplishments do nicely. Likewise don't feel confined to the old fashioned "one pager". Two to three pages or even four is completely acceptable. Positions that require a PhD or other major advanced degree might require additional attachments, however most of us don't fall into this category.

Common mistake #3: Consistency.
Although it is important to be a well rounded person, rarely do employers interview people first and then later decide what position they think the candidates might fit into.

Usually, you are interviewing for a specific need the company currently has or projects to have in the near future. For that reason, you must decide where your strengths are and really let those areas speak through your resume. Use key words and professional terminology within your industry. Also, it’s ok to have more than 1 version of your resume. Many people have 2, 3 or more, each one geared toward a specific skill set or interest. People are multifaceted and so are the roles we occupy. Your work history, education, interests, or other activities should have some relevance to the position you are applying for. If you have 5 years of experience in customer service, it’s hard to justify your qualifications as the VP of IT. However, 5 years in customer service could easily translate into a sales position. Be consistent in your verbal and written communication about your interests, skills, and align yourself to the purpose of the job you are after. This also means to be realistic.

Common mistake #4: Contact info
It might sounds ridiculous but make sure you have correct contact information on your resume.

It should be the first thing on your resume right under your name. I like to recommend applicants to use the "header/footer" so that your contact info appears on every page. I creates a more professional and consistent appearance as well. A good resume will perk the interest of the reader. Like a good book a well written resume is enticing and informative. How can one make a resume fun to read?

Simple, just make it opposite of confusing and cumbersome and allow it to flow naturally.

Basic rules of thumb:

1. Two to four pages is probably good enough for 75% of the jobs out there.
2. Headings in Bold and/or ALL CAPS: Name, contact info, Summary, Education, Skills, Work Experience, References Available Upon request. (Objectives are a thing of the past).
3. Post on major and niche job boards. Network among your friends as well.
4. Setup job agents to automatically send daily job leads that match your criteria into a bucket or email.

Happy Job Hunting!

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