Resumes: First Impressions Matter

I review hundreds of resumes and Linkedin profiles every week and most are very poorly written.  How someone can expect to get contacted for a position when their resume looks horrible, doesn’t paint a picture of what they’ve done in the past and what they are capable of in the future?  Most job seekers don’t spend the required time to get their resume to where sourcing specialists, recruiters or HR managers would want to look at it…it winds up in the shred box or just passed up.  Putting a good resume together is pretty simple, it just takes time and effort to get it that way.  Here are some things to look at when developing your resume:

Contact Information is correct…simple right, some forget to keep this updated.  Your address is important because recruiters may be looking for a local candidate or may be searching for a specific location and if it’s not on your resume, you won’t come up in the search.  Some job seekers have been advised not to put their address on their resumes for security reasons.  I can understand that, but at minimum, put the city and state that you live so you can come up in a search.  Additionally, keep your telephone number updated and your voice mailbox cleaned out.

Summary of Qualifications:  This should be an overview of your experience and skillset both hard skills, if you are technical, and soft skills, to show of your leadership/management.  It should cover areas listed in the job description using similar key words that jump off the page to the reader.  This is where most people have problems ultimately resulting in it heading to the shred box.

Key Skills:  If you have key skills through training, certifications and experience, you want to make sure those are highlighted.  I recommend inserting them just after the Summary to catch the readers attention.

Professional Experience:  This section can be pretty fluid.  It can me chronological, functional or a mixture of both.  I recommend chronological unless you have a serious gap in your employment history that needs to be delt with.  Remember employment history is the #1 area used for screening out candidates and showing a consistent employment history serves you well.  This is also the section where you highlight your accomplishements, not your responsibilities.  You can be responsible for much and do very little.  We want to see hard core accomplishments.  Start with an action verb, then the situation or task, the action taken and the result.  If you do this for all your accomplishments, your resume will stand out from others.

Education and Training:  List significant education, degrees, certifications and training in this section.  Be sure to review the job description for requirements.  If your education is significantly more than required, this could screen you out.  Some ask why?  Employers fear that you have more education than needed and that you will always be looking for a bigger better deal more comensurate with your education and leave at first opportunity.  So handle this one with care.

Some other things to consider.  Spelling and Grammar; always run the checker and get additional eyes on it.  Read it aloud.  Format and Design; consistent, simple and clean is always better unless you are a graphic designer showing off your work.  No more than 2 pages, no more than 10 years experience.  If there are areas you want to show off that are more than 10 years old, be careful, age discrimination can happen without you knowing it based on years and numbers in the resume.

The bottom line; your resume is your calling card, it is your first impression to a company and reflects your level of effort and professionalism.  If it looks horrible and is poorly written this will define you to the company and most likely wind up in the shred box.

No one cares more about your career than you do, so take the time to put together a solid resume and continue to refine it throughout your career.


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