As someone who has worked as a recruiter, HR manager, and outplacement coach since the 90's, I have to tell you that I long ago lost count of how many resumes I have seen over the years. Thousands? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Who knows..But what I do know is a good resume when I see it.
I work with many people who have incredible depth of experience in their targeted field. However, 9 times out of 10, when these folks go to write a resume, they lose sight of who their audience is. With that in mind, here are a few simple suggestions for keeping yourself in check:
Jargon is not your friend! Yep-I know that you want to be seen as someone who understands the market, function, industry, technology, whatever...but you have to be careful of making your resume look like an exercise in shorthand. Definitely use industry terms, but be mindful of using company specific jargon or acronyms, industry shorthand, or any other term that your neighbor who works in a different industry couldn't recognize.
Speaking of your neighbor...have your resume reviewed! The best way to tell if your resume reads clearly to a broad audience is by having a friend, neighbor, or trusted adviser review it-and these folks should definitely have no experience in your industry. After reviewing your resume, could they explain to others both what you do and how well you have done it? Hopefully so. Flip side of the same coin, if you can, have a boss or co-worker from your old job review your resume as well. You may find that they remember things about your performance that you have forgotten!
Skip the fancy formatting. While it may seem creative to have tables, multiple types of font, italics, bold, bullet points, etc-try to think of paring it down a bit. I'm a big fan of bold and bullet points to emphasize key accomplishments, but man alive, I hate seeing space wasting tables and 5 different fonts in one document. Remember that your resume is more than just good content-it's also visual appeal. If your resume is painful to read, it probably won't be read.
And for those of you still printing resumes...does the paper matter? Yes and no. Your resume paper should be plain white or light cream. You want to steer clear of the paper with watermarks or flecks of linen. It may look cool, but it's a nightmare to make copies of. Plus, even if you print a resume, chances are that someone is just going to turn around and ask you to submit it electronically. Save a tree and get business cards printed with a link to your LinkedIn profile or online resume instead-less paper!
What else should you be thinking about? Well, because I have seen these on resumes in the last 5 years, I'm going to go ahead and add some basic do's and don'ts:
No date of birth or marital status
No picture on your resume. Please. Pretty please. Pic on your professional bio? Great! Pic on your resume? I'm gonna make fun of you.
Feel free to drop "older" experience off your resume. Most employers want to know what you have done lately-aka last 10 to 20 years. I'd love to tell you that ageism doesn't exist, but it does-don't give them ammo if you can help it. If your more recent experience tells a comprehensive story, then go with that. However, be mindful of the fact that on some applications, you may be required to list all jobs. In that case, don't omit as it might be considered application falsification.
Do feel free to talk about volunteer or non-profit experience-especially if it helps you illustrate a career change. Just because you aren't paid for it doesn't mean that it's not work! However, that one day a year you spend with Habitat for Humanity probably doesn't count anywhere but in Saint Peter's book-go ahead and leave it off the resume.
Spell check with your computer. Spell check with your eyeballs. Spell check with a friend's eyeballs. 'Nuff said.
Bottom line-remember your audience and try to write a resume that is not only easily understood by human eyes, but also by the applicant tracking systems in place for so many companies. How do you maximize your resume for ATS or online apps? Ah, that's a blog for another day! Good luck and happy hunting!
Michelle currently serves as a Job Search coach helping professionals make the leap from looking to landed. In addition to her time spent coaching individuals, she delivers a variety of training sessions from Social Networking, Working with Recruiters, Online Resume Posting, and Interview Prep.
Michelle possesses over 15 years of diverse experience in functional areas such as recruiting, human resources, coaching, training, organizational development, staffing, sales, sales management, retail, and banking/finance.
Prior to working as a job search coach, Michelle made her career in the Placement industry working most recently for the 2nd largest Staffing Company in the World. For this multi-national organization, Michelle served as an Agency Recruiter, Corporate Recruiter, Senior HR Manager, and Area Vice President. During her tenure with this organization, Michelle was also tasked with various Organizational Development programs including the creation of a company wide Career Progression Program. Michelle also served on the three person team that introduced a new “Gen Y” based hiring model that included a greater emphasis on college recruiting/branding and internships. As a result of this experience, Michelle considers her greatest strengths to be talent identification/retention, talent development, and coaching for performance improvement.
In addition to these areas of expertise, Michelle is rapidly growing her knowledge base around Social Media and Web 2.0 as it relates to the work world. She writes a regular blog on job searching that can be found at: http://hireme.typepad.com/michellemorettini/. Want to connect to Michelle?
Send her an invitation on LinkedIn at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/michellemorettini.
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