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Resume Tips


In my many years of recruiting experience I have seen over 100,000 resumes and the full spectrum of good resumes to those that are less than adequate. There are several resources available in bookstores and on the Internet that can help you if you have not kept your resume up-to-date and would like more detail and explanation on how to craft your resume. Here are some guidelines to think about when updating your resume:

  • Length of the resume (Times have changed!):

    Not too long ago people were expected to cram their work history on one page or less. This is no longer the norm and there are still many job seekers using this old approach and cutting out valuable skills and experiences that might be attractive to an employer. Make the resume as long as you would like to tell your story while still being concise.
  • Minimum information to include in your resume:

    • Contact Information: In addition to your name, address and home phone number the more things you can list to make it easy for someone to contact you the better. If you have an email address, pager, cell phone, work phone number, include those if you are reachable through these mediums. You want to make it easy for a prospective employer to make that first phone call to you. Since hiring managers frequently like to spend time with their families in the evening like many people, make yourself reachable during business hours if at all possible. This will increase your odds of getting the interview.
    • Dates: For some reason many candidates omit a lot of important dates such as dates of graduation, or round off work experience to years. It’s best to use the standard mm/yy format for all dates for work experience and education. Avoid creating gaps by omitting work experience in your resume, you can always explain these in the interview if needed
    • Company Information: It’s a good practice to list some profile information about each company where you have worked such as the revenue size, line of business, location of headquarters, etc. This way if an employer is reviewing your resume but is not familiar with some of the companies where you worked at least they can make some assumptions based on the company profile information you list.
    • Objective Statement: Do not state your job objective in the resume as it can only pigeonhole your job search and does not add any particular value to you.
    • Summary of Qualifications: This is an excellent way to hi-light what you bring to the table. It should be the first section in your resume and should be comprised of bullet-points about what and who you are as a potential employee.
    • Work Experience: The further you get back in time in your work history the shorter the sections should be. You should focus on beefing up that last couple of jobs you have had. List your title and job responsibilities in the section under the company information with the appropriate dates and then bullet accomplishments underneath. If you have had held numerous positions with the same employer list these separately with titles and dates in reverse chronological order.
    • Work Experience Bullets: Perhaps the most critical area many candidates need to think about and improve upon is their actual work experience and accomplishments. Spend a day with a yellow pad and list everything you have accomplished before you even begin to write your resume. Everyone has accomplishments but frequently gloss over these or over-summarize them. Concentrate on tangible, measurable items such as: Achieved quota of $1 Million, increased market share by 3%, developed relationships with XYZ corporation(s), developed 2,000 lines of code for software application, etc. For sales and marketing professionals you should show details of the types of customers you called on, what you sold, how large the deals were, what companies you developed relationships with. For technical professionals you should list details about projects you have completed and what technologies and skills were required and who you interfaced with to complete projects.
    • Other Sections: It’s a good idea for technical professionals to have a technical addendum at the end or the resume. If you have a few outside things you are involved in such as community activities, trade organizations, these are good to list as well. Finally any special licenses or certifications should be listed. Do not list personal information, this is outdated and should not be taken into consideration by HR professionals.
  • Resume Format:

    The most widely acceptable resume format today for technology firms is an electronic copy preferably written in Microsoft Word. These are usually preferable to resumes received in the mail because they can easily be tracked on a computer and forwarded to the appropriate people quickly. Give it an appropriate file name with your last name as part of the file name and send as an attachment in your email. The email itself can serve as your cover letter. If you do not have access to MS Word you can use your existing word processing package but might want to consider creating a text version as well to send so that the company can view it in their word processing package.
  • References:

    Always have a reference list prepared listing job related contacts that have seen your work. This could be past managers, clients, or anyone else you can trust. You should approach your references in advance of a job search and ask if they would be available if the time ever came when you need a good reference. Don’t wait until you are in the offer phases to get your list together as it will only slow down the process. You are not required to submit references when you submit your resume (although it is acceptable if you choose to do so). Specify that they are available upon request. Do not bother with personal references or other contacts that do not directly know your work abilities and habits, they will not be considered by most hiring firms in the professional marketplace.
  • Other Considerations:

    Your resume is a sales document designed to get you an interview and serve as starting point for discussions with prospective employers. It should be positive and truthful at all times, should never suggest anything negative, nor should offer explanations about why you made certain questionable career changes in your past. It is a professional document that should refrain from personal antidotes about you or prior employers or experiences you have had. Stick to the facts about your accomplishment and you will be in good shape.
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