EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Standard formats

As many of you know, one of my weekly occupations is reviewing new member applications.

I try to keep in mind that for the most part I am seeing resumes that have just been completed out of whole cloth. In effect, these are the first result of days of writing and rewriting. Unfortunately, most are not even close to being finished, or as polished as they need to be.

With my backgrounds in educational publishing, information publishing and advertising, I have a personal preference for standard formats. Although the information between the top of page one and the end of page two can be very creative, the structure really shouldn’t be.

The rationale I would suggest to you is that the more you conform to standard formats, the more likely that those reading your opus will find the information they need. Follow the eyes of those reviewing your recently completed resume and see if you can figure out where they start and how they conduct their review.

Chances are slim to none that they will read and reread every single word and mull it over in their minds. I wish those reading resumes had that kind of time, but they don’t.

The actual task of any resume reader is sorting into piles. Those we are going to keep and those we are going to trash. The keeper pile is then sorted into strong and weaker resumes and the weaker ones are trashed. Sounds cruel, but the burden in this communication process is on you the sender.

A standard resume is two pages. Period. Anyone who sends more is suspect and anyone who sends less is suspect. Call me crazy, but it makes sense to me. If you are creative, two pages should be sufficient to get your message across.

As I mention frequently, 12-point, Times New Roman with one-inch borders is the benchmark. There are other suitable typefaces, and I even like some of them, but this is the standard.

Again, if you use less than a 12-point type, the suspicion is that you are unable to edit your thoughts and are using a smaller font to squeeze in more words. Most of the time what you really accomplish by going to a smaller font is to make your resume harder to read.

Dates are a big deal as well. If you use months instead of years you are reducing the readability of your resume. If you think that most folks can compute the number of equivalent years you were at XYZ Corporation at a glance, I think you are kidding yourself. It is hard enough to focus on the years. I would let the folks in Human Resources nail down the exact months and seconds you were at each of your jobs AFTER they decide to make you an offer.

And sure, you can fill up 20-200 pages with all of your work experiences, but as a hiring executive, I am only trying to decide whether or not to call you in for an interview.

Make it easy for hiring executives to pick you out of the pile. This is one time where “in the box thinking” can pay off.

Regards, Matt

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