As many of you know, I have a variety of backgrounds. I was not only in the publishing business for 10 years, I was also in the advertising business for 9 years.
Communication, or the assumption that it has taken place, is at the core of most of the problems in this world. (Okay, there are probably others, but that would take away from the points I am going to try to make tonight.)
Anyway, when an underpaid overworked and groggy screener is placed in front of a pile of 500 resumes and asked to pull out 20 good ones, how much time do you think they actually get to spend on each one? Yes, I am sure they will work quickly so that when they get to yours they can spend some serious time trying to figure out what a great candidate you will make, but what if they zone out?
Well, the thought I have for all of you is to be consistent within the traditional STRUCTURE of resumes so they will not have quite as much difficulty figuring out if you fit. (Duh!)
Let’s hark back to those halcyon days when you were publishing financial reports each month. Did you change the format each month just to keep everyone on his or her toes? So, if you tried to be consistent with folks you could coach through your month burp of data, why when dealing with strangers do you try to confuse them?
Let’s start with the idea that when I look at the first page of your resume, it would be nice if your name and contact information was right up there at the top. (Who knows, I might even want to contact you.)
Next, it would sure be nice if you had an impactful summary of who you are and what magic you have been known to perform. Don’t bore me with a lot of details, but just a variation on your 90-second announcement. (They sure do come in handy, don’t they?)
Now we are going to get tricky on you and suggest that the next place a reviewer looks is the last page. Where were you educated? UCLA is fine if I am into football, I suppose, but don’t you think University of California at Los Angeles has a more dignified ring? What degrees and what years of graduation will create a context for me to understand the foundation of your career. If you have an engineering degree as a financial officer and work in manufacturing, it all makes sense somehow.
Once you finished college, at what corporations did you finish the foundation of your career? That is why (even though it was 50 years ago) I would like to know. No accomplishments are needed, just the names of the companies, titles held during what years and if you would be so kind, tell me what the companies did. (Some resume reviewers WERE born yesterday.)
Keep that format going all the way to the present, but in your most recent 10 years of labor on behalf of some great (or not so great) corporation, give me a few highlights of all you have achieved.
Now that I have a quick snapshot, I will put you into one of the two piles on my desk: the large one that we will “be keeping on file,” and the short one that we will pass forward to the “senior dream killer” for his action.
I hope that you understand that you only get one chance to make a first impression. If you cloud my already foggy brain with small type and a new and inventive format, you are likely to be doomed from the get go.
Put information where I am expecting to see it. Put it in a consistent and widely accepted framework so I don’t have to hunt for it. Be consistent in your format throughout.
Who knows, you might even get a phone call to “tell me more about yourself.”
(If you want to see three samples, please download our model resumes from the website complements of Ken Homza, Roy Roberts, Tom Sobell, and Rich Wieland.)