5 ingredients for a great resume

What makes a great resume?  What ingredients differentiate a strong resume from a weak resume, or one that gets you an interview versus one that doesn’t?

For many it is about cramming as much ‘stuff’ as possible about ourselves into the document in the mistaken belief that the more information provided, the better the outcome….Wrong!

Others think that simply outlining what they did in each job by way of responsibilities or tasks will help them get to interview…Wrong!

Most people who review resumes would rather do anything else and see it as a necessary evil.  I regularly recall as both a hiring manager and HR professional having to begrudgingly look through piles of resumes at my dining room table late at night or if I was travelling, in some nondescript hotel room over a cold club sandwich and a diet coke following a 12 hour work day.  I would normally only spend 15 – 30 seconds deciding whether a resume went on the ‘yes, I may be interested to interview you’ pile or not.  My mindset, tiredness and general disdain at looking at resumes resulted in a fast and cursory review.

Bottom-line:  People are generally not in the best frame of mind when reviewing resumes and nor do they spend extended time reading them, so please make it easy for them to discern if you are worthy of an interview! Remember, the only purpose of the resume is to get you to an interview…Nothing more and nothing less!

Here are some tips to help the beleaguered resume reviewer (and you):

  1. Keep your resume to 3-4 pages maximum   I won’t read your 8 page tome, so don’t even try it!
  2. Use a font and font size I can actually read without an electron microscope – Typical fonts like Calibri and Arial are best and can be read relatively easily at font size 10 or 11.  If you are unsure, see if you can easily read  your resume in a dimly-lit room. Don’t use tiny fonts!
  3. Use white space Don’t give me blocks of text outlining everything you’ve done in your career!  Give me the highlights and how you match what I am looking for.
  4. Demonstrate your value by using achievements, with quantifiable outcomes if you can (Critical) – I may not believe you if you state you are ‘good at inventory management’, however I will be interested when you tell me about initiating, developing and implementing an inventory management system that saved your last company $100K.  Good achievements align with the problems I face at my company and I want someone who can solve these for me.  Let me know what you’ve done and pique my interest enough to call you in for an interview.
  5. Relevance and matching – Anything on your resume should be supportive of your ability to do the advertised job.  If it isn’t remove it!  So, you’ve traveled to 27 countries?  Impressive, but it counts for nought in applying for my job. That pottery course you completed must have been interesting, but it won’t help you solve my sales issues.  Match your experience and results with my needs and I am interested to find out more!

Resumes are probably the most subjective documents on the planet and it seems like everyone has an opinion on what they should contain and how they look.  However, following the above points will be of great assistance to get through the initial screening process and to an interview.

If you require assistance in career coaching covering topics such as resume preparation, interview skills, fear-free networking or the development of a LinkedIn profile, Paul Di Michiel (The Career Medic) can assist.  You can contact Paul by clicking here for an obligation free chat to see how he can help you in job search.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s.

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