If you have been a job seeker for any length of time and studied materials on how to develop a powerful resume, you know by now that even the “experts” don’t agree on a number of things when it comes to your resume. These conflicting and confusing directions on how to construct your resume are crazy making at the least. At the most, a job seeker feels powerless and like with one wrong move they will mess up an opportunity of a life time.
While I’m not a certified resume writer, I have personally hired hundreds of people and recruited and screened hundreds more for other hiring managers. I’m here to help project some sanity into this often angst-filled activity, based on all that experience and my guidance to job seekers. I’m sure it will be in conflict with someone out there, but I’ll try to sort out the logic so you can make an informed decision.
Number of pages. This one ranks as the number one question job seekers have. Should you have 1 page, 2 pages or is it ever ok to have several pages? I think you have two goals in mind when writing your resume:
- You provide enough information about your skills and experience, that it will inform the resume reviewer as to how close of a match you are. Notice I said “enough”. It’s simply not possible or desirable to put down, in resume form, your entire work history. Save that for a book. The people who read your resume know there is much more to you than what they are reading, so your resume just needs to be a good representative array of information.
- The resume should be targeted at the hiring manager and their specific position without being boring. If someone has hundreds of resumes to read, how compelled will they be to read a lengthy diatribe? They won’t. This might be their job, but they are human; and they want their attention to be captured.
Advice: Not more than 2 pages; just long enough to fully outline your results without being redundant. The only exception is if you are in an industry that wants length (you will know if this is you).
1- It’s short enough to keep the reader from going into a boredom induced coma.
2- If a resume is printed out, they will usually print it using both sides of the paper, making anything longer a stapled attachment. Stapled attachments get torn off and tossed. You do not want your experience lying in the garbage.
3- I know 1-page resumes are trendy, but I have seen these resumes be so short in content and valuable information that I was embarrassed for the person. They often also look like they have tried to squeeze 10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound bag. You aren’t fooling anyone with small font; and you also make it seriously difficult to skim for the initial review.
Objective statement. Some expert’s say it’s a must in the resume, others say it’s a waste of time and space. This is definitely confusing.
Advice: If you have the space without trading off some juicy skill or experience – add it. What you’re hearing is that the objective statement is optional; and it is. It isn’t vital, but it is a nice way to “set the tone” for how you want the resume reviewer to think about your resume. It should be 1 or 2 sentences as maximum and point to 2-3 of your skills.
Work summary. Again, some include it and some say skip it. Many times the “skip it” crowd wants you to skip it because they want to see your experience in the setting of a specific job and years of service. In other words, it can and will get skipped by some.
Advice: If you include a work summary, make sure it is a summary. I have seen full page summaries and it makes me think the writer doesn’t understand what the word ‘summary’ means. I think it is ok to include it, if it does these things:
1- It acts as an appetizer to be expanded on later in the resume.
2- It has 3 highlights and at the most 5 work highlights.
3- It is short enough to not take up more than 1/3 of the page.
Who do you listen to? Your cousin in HR? The person doing the resume tele-seminar or the person who wrote a book?
The answer is: Don’t ever substitute your judgment for that of others. It’s ok to gather opinions and input, but once you have done that you need to make decisions that best support your message. The fact that there is conflict should tell you that there is no “right way” to do the resume. This means if you think through what you’re doing, you resume will be right for you.
Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a Career Coach and expert on helping her clients achieve their goals. Her programs cover: Career growth and enhancement, Career Change, Retirement Alternatives and Job Search Strategy. Want to discover specific career change strategies that get results? Discover how by claiming your FREE gift, Career Makeover Toolkit at: http://CareerMakeoverToolKitShouldIstayorShouldIGo.com
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