Most people look at a resume incorrectly. Too many think it’s a document that tracks your life and career. But the truth is, a good resume is the ultimate calling card – it’s the movie trailer for your life. A resume’s task isn’t to get you the job, it’s to get you in the door so you can sell yourself. So now that you realize it’s purpose is to open doors, get yours out, and let’s fix it:
1) The first rule is to look professional. Make it simple, easy to read, with plenty of white space. Don’t fill it in wall to wall with text, give it some breathing room. No wacky fonts, just simple and professional.
2) Don’t make it fancy. Stop using that paper that looks like marble, or textured paper or card stock. Just pick nice, quality, white paper.
3) No photos or emoticons – please.
4) Stop listing everything. I’m thrilled that you were a high school cheerleader, but it’s time to let that go. And when it comes to hobbies, forget it. I don’t care that you were the “Tri-Cities Bowling Champion” 3 years in a row – don’t put it down. However – that’s a solid rule except in two situations:
A) If your hobby impacts your career. For instance, if you’re applying for a security position and you have a Black Belt in Karate, or happen to be a sharpshooter, then list it.
B) If your hobby makes you interesting. If you’re a high-wire walker for the circus on weekends, then I’d probably be fascinated.
5) Get a professional email address. “Shopaholic@yahoo.com” is fine for your college friends and family, but doesn’t work in a professional setting. There are many free email services out there, so get an email address to use with your career that looks professional.
6) Stick to one page? That’s up to you, but… I prefer a one page resume because remember – it’s a “teaser” not a life story. I’ve been working over four decades, produced programming in more than 50 countries, have a Ph.D., and written numerous books, worked with hundreds of clients, and I’m a member of a wide range of professional organizations, but I can still get my resume onto a single page. A single page makes it easier to handle, and with a busy executive, if it’s more than a page, chances are he or she will move on. So go either way, but the important thing to remember is to make it compelling.
7) Make multiple versions. Stop sending the same resume to everyone. Think of what areas you should emphasize for different employers. It’s not about lying, it’s about focusing your best assets for the potential position at hand. I had 12 different resumes at one time, because different jobs require different skill sets. Hey – you have access to a computer, so it’s easy to do. Make the perfect version for each potential job.
8) Finally – this isn’t about a resume, but it’s a burning issue with me: It’s time to start dressing for where you want to go, not where you’ve been. When you walk into an interview, you need to own the room. I don’t care if you’re not a marketing director, vice president, sales professional, or pastor yet – start dressing like one, and people’s perceptions about you will change. Believe it.
Your resume is an incredibly important tool, so treat it like a professional instrument. Make it polished, make it interesting, and make it rock.
Any other tips you’ve experienced that would help our readers create a more powerful and compelling resume?