So far, I've shared with you some tips on formatting. Today, I'm going to step back and talk about the length of your resume.
Commandment #3 - Thou shalt not have more than a 2 page resume.
I've had more than one client come to me with a 4-5 page resume chock full of great accomplishments. It's hard to talk them into cutting it down. They are proud of their accomplishments and feel it's important to convey EVERYTHING to a potential employer.
The sad truth is that the first person who actually looks at your resume, devotes all of 8 seconds to it. That's how little time you have to convince them your resume is worth more reading. This is why so much attention is devoted to the top half of the first page. You MUST grab their attention here. The trick is to put as much PERTINENT information in this section as possible, without cluttering it up with lines, italics, and other busyness. Include just enough to let them see you as a real contender! Here are the three things to include at the top half your page 1:
1. Clear Contact Information. See my previous blog on this topic.
2. A Strong Summary (formerly called Objective) of who you are as a professional, including your desired title, areas of expertise and traits that make you a valuable asset.
3. Key Words. Present these clearly, succinctly and include only those that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Yesterday's post discussed the formatting of the Key Word information without the use of tables.
This section is followed by your Professional Experience, then Education, and finally, any relevant information that will make you stand out. Do you have certifications identified as requirements for the job? Have you published or presented?
And, yes, it is hard to compress all of your experience into 2 pages. Admittedly, there are some exceptions where you can run more than 2 pages. HERE's a great article that discusses length. But, this is the exception more than the rule.
I like to quote Mark Twain when dealing with resumes. He's known for apologizing for a long letter by saying, "I'm sorry this letter is so long. If I'd had more time, it would be shorter." I love this! Yes, it takes time, concentration and skill to be concise. You don't want to give it all away in the resume. You want to pique their interest so they call you in for an interview.
Let's take a closer look.
Limit your resume to the past 15 years. In truth, employers are most interested in your last 5 years. Reaching back into your history for jobs you held 20 years ago is not likely to be relevant in most cases. There are exceptions for skills exhibited in the past that are highly relevant and you haven't used recently, or a particular employer you wish to list. In most cases, this can be resolved with a section called OTHER RELEVANT EXPERIENCE where you simply write a sentence or two about that experience.
Carefully choose the accomplishments you list. Identify the top 5-8 things you did, and their results for your most recent work. State it simply. What did you do and what resulted? Don't give them all the details. You can do that during your interview. Use strong action words to begin each statement, and use a variety. I've saved a list of these on my website. Here's one example:
Designed and implemented a new mentor program for sales representatives, resulting in 30% improvement in customer satisfaction ratings.
A potential employer will be sure to notice this if they are having customer satisfaction issues, and will want to ask you more during your interview.
Each successive job can have fewer statements. With each successive job going back into your history, relevance decreases, so you don't have to have as many bullets. Include only the most significant.
Education. Typically, you need only include the degree earned, School, and location. It is not necessary to list years, unless you are a recent graduate. Here's an example from my resume:
MA, Human and Organizational Learning, The George Washington University, Washington, DC
It's not going to be quick or easy, but you will end up with a resume that is crisp, concise, relevant and conveys the right impression. And, isn't that what you'll be asked to do once they hire you?
I've had numerous requests for the whole list, so if you wish to see the entire list without any details, click HERE.
Tomorrow: Your personalized LinkedIn URL