Some regard a resume as a reflection of a person’s intelligence, character and personality. There is some truth to such thinking, but no one ever gets a job based on just his or her resume alone.
I’m often asked the question: “what is the best format for a resume?” My answer, after seeing virtually thousands of resumes, is that there is no best format. If there was a format that was best, everyone would use that format, and all resumes would look the same. Except for the information, of course. My philosophy about writing a resume is simple.
- Tell the whole story, even if it takes more than one page. I don’t know how many times I have seen a one page resume on a person who has been in the workforce for 10, 15, or even 20 years. What does that say about a person’s experience and credentials?
- Make it visually scan-able. A resume can be two, three, even four pages long if it is easy to read. The first thing someone does when they pick up any resume is to go from start to finish as fast as their eyes will take them. Therefore, the creator needs to make it as easy as possible to visually pull out as much information as possible when the reader is doing this. Through the use of bold type, italics and some simple creativity, this is easy to do. We have learned that the most important item should come first, and second most important item should come last. So if a person puts their education information first, and they have been in the workforce for 15 years, what does that tell you about them? Remember, the most important information the reader is looking for is: whom do they work for, and what do (or did) they do there. Corporate titles (VP, SVP, etc.) and Functional Titles (Commercial Real Estate Construction Loans, Litigation Support Analysis, etc.) are the keys here. If you don’t have a Functional Title, make one up that describes what you do using three or four carefully chosen words. Even if the reader glances at the Titles, they will learn enough to know if they want to go back and read every word, or not. So make the titles meaningful!
Because all resumes are different, I try to simplify the review process by adding a “Candidate Profile” to each resume I send out. The Profile is information gleaned from the person’s resume and all available sources of information that are also attached to it, and because it is in a standardized format, it allows the reader to quickly compare one candidate to another. It also allows me to display information about the candidate not always on a resume such as:
- Whether or not they own a home if relocation is an issue,
- Reasons for wanting to relocate,
- Current employment conditions,
- Is there anyone else in their family who would need to find a job if they move,
- Names of people they might know within your company,
- Contact information and contact restrictions (can they talk at work).
Resumes are not required to interview someone but most hiring authorities are more comfortable with having background knowledge ahead of time. This way they don’t have to ask a lot of questions that are usually answered with a resume and a profile. There have been cases where a candidate does not have a resume, or one that is current. If time is critical, I have used the Candidate Profile in place of a formal resume with the understanding that a resume will follow if necessary. By the way, the format I use in a Candidate Profile can be seen as a description of my background elsewhere in this web site.