Your Resume is you!
By Arthur J. Byrnes
It may sound silly but your resume really is you!
When you are looking for a job, the first thing that most perspective employers see is your resume. They decide if You are qualified to get an interview, by the contents of your resume. A good resume will not get you a job, you must do that through the interview, but a bad resume will loose a job for you.
The resume’s main purpose, its only purpose for most people, is to get you in the door for an interview. No matter how good it looks or how impressive it reads, if it doesn’t make the employer interview you, it has failed.
How can a good looking impressive resume fail? The resume must match the job you’re seeking. You can be the best programmer around, but if your resume only lists your experience as a store clerk, you won’t get the interview for the programmer job.
In large corporations the resumes are first sorted by clerks (or computer programs!) who have little or no knowledge of the job itself. A list of keywords, and the job description is used to sort the resumes into two “piles”, reject and pass through. The reject pile quickly fills with resumes that don’t seem to match the job. The candidate may be able to do the job, but the resume doesn’t reflect the proper experience or qualifications, so the hiring manager never gets to see the candidate. This is the main reason why the best way to get a job is through “Networking”. If a friend, acquaintance or a recruiter, can hand your resume directly to a hiring manager, your resume can skip this step that stops a large portion of candidates.
Once in the hands of the hiring manager, the resume gets to do its real work. The grammar, spelling, and neatness, make the impressions on the persons who will have the main say about who gets interviewed, and who gets rejected. Confusing to with too or their with there, probably won’t get the resume rejected, for most technical positions. But, this is the point where a network engineer better not write about sisco rooters or novel netwere 8.5 . Mistakes like these may put the resume into the next reject pile.
What should your resume contain? Well, even the experts can’t agree on the perfect resume. Some say it should contain lots of detail and be as long as possible to properly describe you, your accomplishments and interests. Others say that a resume should be only a single page, listing only the very important information. Here is what has worked in my experience;
The resume should present you in the best light, and should be easy to read. A font size of 12 and a style of Times Roman is a good choice. Although it is ok to have your name in a larger font, try to stay away from mixing type styles. Some line graphics to offset the sections, is ok. Real fancy paper is a waste of money, but it feels good, just make sure that you use a color combination that is readable, and photocopies easily. A wide margin gives the interviewer a place to make notes.
Your contact information is very important. If there is more than one page, a footer with the page number and your name, on each page, is necessary. Even if the resume is bound like a book, copies are going to be made for distribution to the interviewers, so pages could be misplaced. Most employers are looking for a listing of previous companies, your career progression, and qualifications. Managers don’t have time to read 20 pages of detail, and don’t want to read tiny print.
Never ever lie. If you are studying for a qualification say so, don’t imply that you have it. A major omission could be considered a lie. If you have an employer who will give you a bad reference, leaving them off could be worse than the bad reference, especially if leaving them off creates a large gap in the dates. An unexplained gap in employment dates is often a red flag for interviewers.
The “Fluff stuff” is not important to most employers. Anything that is not related to employment should be left off. Your hobbies, or political affiliations, not only take up valuable space, but could leave the wrong impression with an interviewer. (Of course every rule is made to be broken, when I applied to a boat electronics company, my resume mentioned my Scuba diving hobby, since it was job related.) An honor or award is not fluff, if you were employee of the month or received special recognition for cost savings or efficiency, be sure that information is included. You shouldn’t give any information that the employer is not legally allowed too ask. Age, race, marital status, religion, or handicaps, don’t belong on the resume.
Lots of people spend a lot of time and effort to put an “Objective” on their resume. This probably causes more rejections than any other item. Poorly worded or just plain wrong objectives are very common. Leave it off! The fact that the employer has your resume tells them that your objective is to get a job with them.
Be sure to list all the languages, hardware, and operating systems that you are familiar with. Many folks list this in a separate section, so that the employer can find it easily. If you have a special talent, that relates to employment, list it in this section. Being bi-lingual would be a talent of this type, playing the saxophone would not.
Your resume is your advocate, brag about yourself, but don’t be cocky, tell everything you can do, but don’t lie, and remember anything you list on your resume is fair game in an interview.
Arthur J. Byrnes, has been to many interviews on both sides of the table.
On-line he runs Arthur’s Job Blog