Resumes don’t sell. People do.
When you have finally made the difficult career decision to change jobs, remember, your killer resume is not going to land you the job of your dreams. But your resume should do no harm, either. Over the years we have seen some really good resumes. And you know what, no one remembers those. But the bad ones? Whew boy. They are etched in our memory.
Here are a few tips to help you write an excellent and forgettable resume.
- Keep it to 1-3 pages, tops. Never 4. No one reads that far anyway.
- No pictures. It’s creepy.
- Keep hobbies simple, like “Reading” or “Sports”. Nothing weird like “Edgar Allen Poe Recitals” or “Tail Gate Parties”. What you do in your spare time can put off the reader. So “Fly fishing” is OK, but “Fly fishing in Argentina” might sound too elitist.
- Same thing with “Certifications”. Nothing like reading a CPA’s resumes to find that he or she is also a Certified Massage Therapist. Not relevant, unless you are applying for a job as a massage therapist. Then CPA isn’t relevant.
- Expand the experience section of each more current job. Your first job out of college, it it was 25 years ago, could possibly be only a date, a company and a title. But your most recent job should have the beef.
- Use of first person narrative in a resume is tiring. For example, “When I was the software engineer at Software, Inc., I developed blah blah blah….” It should read, “As a software engineer for Software Inc., developed the blah blah blah…” This method presents the applicant’s skills and experience in a more fact based way without coming across as being too self-centered. Constant use of “I” will eventually put off the reader.
- Sell, but don’t exaggerate. For example, it’s OK to say, “Drove the budget process, implementing many cost saving programs, resulting in a $750K increase in after tax profit.” What you shouldn’t say is, “Single-handedly increased Company Earnings Per Share which drove annual dividend up by 6%.” Even if it’s true, it sounds ridiculous. This is the same approach you should take in interviews.
- Keep it current. If you no longer work at ABC, Co., then use and “end date”, and not “Present”. We see this all the time, and it’s lying. While you’re at it, you might as well be accurate, so check those facts, dates and titles. When possible, include months in dates. Excluding months usually means you are hiding a gap in employment. Even a minor error or omission could raise a red flag on your background check and cost you the job. No kidding! It happens all the time.
- Salary history on the resume? The job application is where that belongs. But it doesn’t belong on the resume. It’s just too hard to know how it will be interpreted. Are you too salary focused? Are you trying to show how many raises you’ve had? Just factually state your salary on the job application.
- Functional vs. Chronological Resume. In our experience, most hiring managers prefer the Chronological Resume. This allows the manager to see where you acquired your relevant experience. But if your most relevant experience for a particular job was obtained several jobs back, you may want to use the functional approach. Both are acceptable.
- Find a good resume web site and follow the formula you like. There are many web sites that offer great advice.
- Don’t get cute. Clever little jokes or your own personal creativity exercises have no place on your resume. Remember, you are appealing to the masses. The few people who may be amused will be completely overshadowed by the number of people who think your resume is trash.