The Don’ts – Let’s start with what is wrong with many resumes I see.
A. Length – If you read a book or article on resume writing it probably said one page. That was OK for my dad, but doesn’t apply in today’s world. You can have two, three or even four depending on your number of years of experience, but don’t get carried away. Nothing makes a recruiter or hiring manager cringe more than seeing a seven page resume for someone with four years of experience.
B. Objective – Get rid of it. This is another old piece of advice. It usually says things like “I want to contribute to the overall growth of the company.” An objective could be helpful if you have had multiple types of positions and are looking for one specific role this time or you are trying to change careers; otherwise, it is a space waster.
C. Overall Look – Ensure your resume is easy to read. Skip long, run-on sentences. There should be enough white space that your resume won’t cause the reader to get watery eyes. Your resume needs to be readable and easy on the eyes.
D. Personal Information – All of the things about you enjoy skiing, you are married, enjoy origami, your religious affiliation, Social Security Number- leave it off. It doesn’t belong on your resume and may influence the reader negatively if they are not on the same page as you.
E. Reasons for Leaving – Again, your resume is not the place for why you left. You run the risk of the hiring manager and/or recruiter thinking taking the reason in the wrong context.
F. Photos – same as personal info. Don’t waste the space with your picture. You may be beautiful or handsome, but unless you are an actor, your looks are not why you are being considered for the job. HR has been trained to avoid discrimination and this might bring that into play inadvertently.
G. “References Available Upon Request” – Guess what? References are almost always required and you will be asked to provide them. Have them ready and let your references know if someone says they will be calling. But you can make better use of this space.
The Do’s – These are some things you should have on your resume.
A. Summary – This should be directly under your name and contact info. Three, four or five sentences that succinctly describe you as a professional. Make the reader want to keep reading.
B. Education / Certifications – Except for new graduates, education and certifications should be at the bottom of your resume. And once you have a few years of experience, skip the GPA. These things will open some doors, but your accomplishments are the most important.
C. Type of Resume – I almost always recommend a reverse chronological style resume. List the company name, your title and the dates worked evenly spaced across one line. Again, no reason to waste space by “stacking” these items. Then one empty line before you talk about your job. Also try to stick to 10 to 15 years of experience. What you did in 1987 probably is not relevant today.
D. First and Third Person References – Leave out “I” or “Ms. Jones” statements. State what you did without any reference to yourself. It may be interpreted as grandiose of self- serving.
E. Duties – Briefly list your duties/responsibilities. Depending on your role (CTO or Developer) this might be a few sentences, but don’t stop with that. My old boss used to say everyone has a job description. What did you accomplish? Try to quantify your contributions. Sales people are generally good at this. For example, using bullet items under the duties, say something like “Achieved 110% of quota for three years in a row,” “Developed application that cut processing time by 25%,” or “Replaced older technology and saved our company $XXX per year.” Show your value to your prospective employer. Using bullets also adds to readability mentioned above.
F. Target a Specific Job – It is OK to have different versions of your resume. If you have a job description to use as a guideline, ensure that your accomplishments that fit that job are highlighted, or front and center. This does not mean lie or exaggerate your expertise. But if you have the experience, make sure they see it.
G. Review it – I will assume we all use spell check. But ALWAYS have someone else you trust read your resume WORD FOR WORD. Most of the time we are too close to our own resume and have a tendency to skim. Get someone else’s eyes on it for a final review of grammar and ease of reading.
About the Author – By title, I am a Technical Recruiter. I think the term headhunter more aptly describes what I really do: Find the right people with the skills and cultural fit for a specific need. I use every source possible to accomplish that goal. I have placed QA Specialists, Software Engineers, Data Architects, Managers, Directors, Executives and Sales Professionals.
I believe strongly in helping others wherever I can. If you think I can assist you in any way, feel free to reach out to me directly. Send me an email or an invite using firstname.lastname@example.org or @ScottBoren.