The format of your resume is priority one and should be taken very seriously if you are actively seeking employment. Professional recruiters and employers differ in their approach to viewing resumes. However, it’s important to realize that many employ the “10 second rule.” In a nut shell, this rule states that when viewing a resume, if you cannot tell within 10 seconds what an individual’s job history, accomplishments, education, goals, etc., are, then move it into the “No” pile. I don’t employ this rule, as I’ve seen many outstanding candidates with horrible resumes. Yet, it’s important for you to understand that due mostly to time constraints, many in recruiting and human resources apply this approach.
Besides copying text word for word from a batch of sample resumes, what can you do to make sure your resume accurately reflects your job history, accomplishments, education, and goals, and moves you into the “Yes” or “Maybe” pile? Though there isn’t a “one size fits all” golden resume format, and though many people disagree on this subject, there are some very common steps to follow. Here are the must do steps in resume writing to make sure you get a fair chance at that next career move.
Seven Easy Steps for Crafting Your Resume
- Organize your Experience with Clear Dates - In general, it’s ok to not list every job you’ve ever had. However, this will depend on the type of job you’re going after. Going back 10 years for a role that only needs 5 years of experience is overkill. Yet, if the employer clearly wants to see career progression leading to being able to fit a VP-level position, then go back that far. This will be up to you.
- Add Accomplishments to Each Position - Do this in a bulleted format with each accomplishment on its own line. Quick readability will be accomplished by doing this. Remember to cite specific figures, percentages and/or results vs. broad generalizations. Be clear and precise here, and let it match the job you’re seeking.
- Add Education and Certifications, and Professional Group Affiliations - Some people add these to the top of the resume, while others to the bottom. This usually comes down to personal preference though if you have significant educational credentials that are highly related to the role you are seeking, you may want to add these to the top.
- Add Optional Sections that Describe Related Experience or Knowledge - You really want to make sure these sections are necessary and relevant to the position you apply. So, engineers looking to move into new product development may want to emphasize a section on Publications and Patents. Those hoping to land that VP-Level role will want to have a section on career milestones that list in concise bulleted format successes that have led to strong leadership and management experience. Most people do add a section on computer experience so as to appear relavent to the modern job market.
- Create a Strong Summary or Profile Statement Instead of the Traditional Objective Statement - It used to be common practice to start your resume with an objective statement, typically a one sentence statement. However, to accomplish the goal of selling your experience and marketing yourself, use a strong, but specific introductory summary statement.
- Finalize the Format, Readability and Syntax, Spelling and Grammar, and Length - Take a look again at the basic layout and determine if it aligns with the job you desire. It’s recommended to pick a conventional type style and that you use a neutral background. Nothing is more embarrassing and will put up a red flag faster to an employer or recruiter than spelling or grammar mistakes, so double check every word for proper spelling and usage. Some state that if you have less than three years experience, your resume should only be one page. If you have 3 – 20 years experience, the resume should be two pages.
- Proofread and Get Outside Opinions - Ask friends, family and or professional associates to look over your draft. Take their feedback as constructive and edit as necessary. They might see something you missed.
As I stated in the introduction, there isn’t a one size fits all golden format to resume writing. There is much disagreement on this subject, based on many factors. However, even with such disagreement, there are some very common rules to follow when creating a resume that will increase your chances of moving to the “Yes” or “Maybe” pile for that dream job.