1. Remember Your Audience
When preparing your resume or working with others on theirs, remember that 97 percent of companies are not run by “people-people”. Few are professional resume readers. This may sound mundane and surprising, but the truth is that most hiring authorities really don’t know what to look for in a resume. Keep in mind that the people reviewing the resume are probably short on time. You want them to look at it and get a quick and impressive idea of why you stand out from the crowd. I recommend that you keep the message of the resume on a level that a high-school senior could understand. If you get any more sophisticated or esoteric than that, the resume may miss the mark. This doesn’t mean that you can’t explain complicated experiences in it. But it’s the difference between explaining the splitting of atoms to a high-schooler or to a nuclear physicist. Now, a high-schooler may not know anything about the companies that you have worked for or the kind of business that you have been in or the kind of duties and responsibilities that you have had, but the message communicated has to be on a level that a high-schooler can understand.
I advise the K.I.S.S. method: Keep It Simple Stupid. In the same manner that your telephone presentation is going to have to communicate your distinct advantages and benefits, your resume is going to have to do exactly the same thing. It is being read by people who want to know, “What can you do for me today?”
Your resume has to reflect, in quantifiable, real, and specific terms, what you have done before, who you have done it for, how long you did it, and how well you did it. And the communication of these factors has to be so simple that anyone who is in a hurry, who is trying to run a business, who really doesn’t want to read resumes, who’s doing this because she has to, who sees it as an annoying means to an end, and who is doing it between everything else can understand it clearly. So, Keep It Simple!
3. Resume Results Can Be Overrated
The purpose of a resume is to get you to the initial interview and to give the interviewing and hiring authorities a “go by” to help them decide in the interviewing process if you are a person they ought to hire. The average resume is read for ten seconds. When you couple the fact that hiring authorities are literally receiving a hundred or more resumes for each opening they have, one might begin to appreciate what happens when they look at a resume. Think about it—ten seconds. If your resume can’t interest somebody in pursuing you in ten seconds, all of the artful, miraculous, cosmic, inventive, or unique formatting or wording isn’t going to matter.
So, what do most hiring authorities scan for initially in the ten seconds they look at a resume? They want to know who you have worked for, how long you were there, and what position or positions you held. Those three things are what everybody scans for. If the initial scan is palatable, then the resume is read further. Maybe even read two or three times. The initial scan deals with who, how long, and what.
4. What Can I Do for You?
The clear message of an effective resume needs to be: “You need to interview (and subsequently hire) ME because this is what I have done in the past FOR OTHERS and therefore THIS IS WHAT I CAN DO FOR YOU!” A prospective employer doesn’t care about what you think of your resume and track record. He or she cares about what you can do for them. The most effective resume for finding a job is a simple straightforward chronological history of one’s employment.
5. Keep Length in Check
I would never recommend writing a resume more than two pages. More than two pages is simply not going to get read in any kind of detail. One and a half pages is an ideal length; but if your experience is more than fifteen years, you might end up with two.
Name, address, e-mail address, phone numbers—these are the basic things that should appear on the top of a resume in black, bold printing. Simple printing! No fancy script. Nothing cute. Just plain, black, simple, bold type.
6. Rethink the Objective
I do not recommend writing an objective. The person who physically scans the resume just wants to know where you’ve worked, how long you were there, and what you did. A prospective employer couldn’t care less about what you want! He or she only cares about what they want. About the only time I might recommend the use of an objective is if you are customizing your resume for a particular, specific job. If you know exactly the particular requirements of a particular position with a specific organization, you might be able to write the objective meaningful to the hiring authority.
7. Summary/Highlights of Qualifications
I do not recommend a summary of qualifications for the same reason that I don’t recommend an objective. Summaries are either too general to fit a specific need or so specific that they eliminate you for other possibilities.
By Tony Beshara of w2wlink