How To Organize A Gosh-Darn Good ResumeFiled Under 3 Days To Building A Perfect Resume
This is Part #3 of the 3 Days To Building A Perfect Resume series.
Highlight Your Strengths Early
Managers and HR people have just as busy days as you or I. Simply put, when managers are weeding through resumes they are scanning them quickly looking for the good ones and trashing the rest. As a result, don’t make any resume reader hunt for your strengths – provide them clearly at the very top.
As you can see above, I have highlighted at the top 3 big things:
- My name (which is extra helpful that is not an everyday name)
- MCSD Logo (color, image, and brand name recognition make it stand out)
- Summary of qualifications list
If you look at how people consume computer screens using the F pattern; hopefully, this resume header will grab the attention of a potential reader. First the name pops out…then the image…now back down to the list of qualifications. If we can get the reader engaged up to this point, I guarantee they will continue to read the rest of your resume (which is much better than getting it thrown in the trash).
Additionally, I really like this format as it considerably condensed my resume. I was able to remove the sections Education and Certifications while expanding on the section Summary.
Skip The ‘Goal’ Section
One thing I use to be guilty of is placing the “Goal” section at the top of my resume. You know, the ones that look like this:
Goal: To become a programmer at Smith, Smith, and Smith Lawyer Firm
The reasoning for doing this is to “personalize” the resume and have people believe that you have taken a special minute of your time to apply for their company. I hate this for a couple of reasons:
- Takes up valuable space
- Provides no informational worth about your skills
- Wastes the readers time
- Increases possibility of putting the wrong company name (I have seen it and done it)
The absence this section will not cause you to lose a job, but looking like a suck-up might. Ditch this section and give yourself some more space.
Brutally Summarize Your Professional Experience
Unless you are straight out of college and scrapping for content to put on your resume, you probably have enough professional history to fill a small novel. Yet, we are forced to put in on less than a single page in bullet point format. That’s cool, but it isn’t going to happen unless you trim out some of the fat.
Be brutal. List out your professional experience, read it, cut it in half. Read it again, and cut that half in half. You can not (and should not) list every war story in this section. Your resume is the pamphlet of your career and not the novel itself.
Personally, I recently had to trim off my very first job/internship as I didn’t have the additional room. It stung, but it had to be done.
You probably know more than you think, and have done more than you are letting on. For example, I have an entire section dedicated to Publications. What else could you put on your resume? Here are some additional ideas:
- Author of blogs/journal articles/books
- Local/National User Groups
- Nonprofit/OSS experience
- Non-technical domain experience applicable to the hiring company
Prioritize them and fill out your resume with them. It will only help if it is not complete BS or fluff.
Hint That There’s Even More
Never include your references with your resume, unless specifically asked to do so as a requirement of submission. This is because you want them to know that there is more and to start a conversation by asking for it.
If you take a look at my resume below, I end my resume with this:
* Extended resume (previous to 2000) and references are available upon request
If they made it to the bottom of my resume, they want more, and what a better way than to give them a reason to call you and start a conversation. Extended resume? How much does this guy know? I wonder who is references are?
Optimize For Your Audience
A great reader comment on Part #1 – Sell Yourself With Business Benefits reminded me to make note of this:
It’s a good idea to try and figure out who is likely to be reading your resume… if it’s me, you can skip the management fluff completely. What I really want to know is what matters to the candidate. –Barry Dahlberg
Personally, I created a resume that is somewhere in the middle (because I am lazy). It speaks in both geek and benefits and is hopefully good enough to start a conversation with both parties. If you feel it to be necessary create separate resumes for the separate interviews and bring them with you. It is highly probable that each interviewer will bring a copy of your “generic” resume, but you can give them a more targeted one when you are face-to-face.
And that’s it! There is nothing hard about creating a gosh-darn good resume, and in fact I am about to make it easier. You can easily download both my personal resume and the template I use so you can have a good example to work off of. Good luck out there!