In the last few weeks I’ve seen a lot resumes from friends and former colleagues. Typically people asking for a quick review to make sure their resume “looks good.” This can be a hard questions to answer, as there are thousands of opinions on what a resume should look like, many of which contradict each other.
What I’m going to share are the rules that I’ve had a lot of success with. The principles relate to making it as easy as possible to get the recruiter (who has probably looked at a 1000 resumes today, before yours) to get all the information that screams you’re the top candidate for the position.
1. Fit the Key Information on One Page
All too often I’ve seen the Summary section of a resume take up half a page, pushing all the relevant history to the second. Unless you’ve done something really big, that specifically benefits you in the perspective of the hiring manager, you don’t really need one. Neither do you need a generic objective statement – yes, everyone wants to find a job somewhere that will pay them enough money to lead a happy life for a long time. If you don’t have years of experience and aren’t looking for a specific and difficult to fill position, leave it off and use the space for something else.
Another piece of this, don’t adjust the margins or decrease fonts in weird ways just to fit as much information as possible onto a page. It doesn’t make you look better if you do so; it just makes it harder for the recruiter to decide if you are worth his or her time.
2. Move Away from Job Descriptions
Most people will include a job description of what was done at a previous position, but, that doesn’t really let one stand out from the crowd. This resume is about you; what did you accomplish at the position? What recognitions did you receive? It doesn’t matter what, but if the company you were at thought it was important to take notice of, it should probably be on your resume. As should any big projects your worked on – state what they were and why your role was important to that task. Lastly, any time you can, put up big numbers.
3. Be Able to Read it At a Glance
My resume is bulleted with short sentences with each of my accomplishments. But it goes further: Companies are Bold with the positions and company descriptions Italicized. Dates (should be month and year) and locations stand out to the right of the company name. I keep the locations because of my international background, but it’s not a necessary piece of info if your entire history is local. The key here is to make the quick info recruiters are looking for easily visible without reading your entire resume.
4. Spell It All Out in Plain English
Don’t assume that whoever is reviewing your resume will know all the acronyms, or even languages, on your resume. A really simple example: my education includes time at Kansai Gaikokugo Daigaku. While that is the name of the school, it’s better to put it in it’s English translation, followed by the correct name: Kansai Foreign Language University (関西外国語大学).
The only other thing I have to say about Resumes is try not limit your venture into the Black Hole of applications. It is always 100% better to go through a real live person than a computer program. Get creative – find a way to make sure he/she see’s your resume.