EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

The resume format is sure constraining. If only the world was willing to listen to us rattle on.

Unfortunately, they aren’t.

The “standard” acceptable resume format is either two or three pages. Anything more tells the reader that you don’t know how to communicate. Perhaps I should also mention that narrow margins and smaller fonts are not the solution. If you want anyone to be able to absorb that opus of yours in the 15 seconds they allot to reading it, I would suggest that you take out a very sharp electronic pencil and have at it.

As the sign in the restaurant says: Good food takes time. Yours will be ready in a minute.

Good writing and good communication takes writing and rewriting and then more rewriting. Like good food or works of art, they all take time and usually more time than you expect.

The biggest mistake first time resume writers make is to try to condense their resume to two pages on the first try. Take 10 pages if you need it to get everything you have done of importance down on paper. The next step is to write and rewrite each of the accomplishments you think will be of interest to potential employers and polish them until you can’t stand reading them anymore.

Save this file for future reference. Hopefully it is filled with gold. Unfortunately, you probably have much too much stuff.

This next step is the hardest. You have to cut and cut and cut some more. But how? Start by eliminating accomplishments in your oldest jobs. (By the way, listing your oldest jobs in a run on paragraph as seems to be the solution suggested by “professionals” today is an all around bad idea. I hope you weren’t in the habit of changing the format of the financial statements you prepared half way through, with some number in millions, some in thousands and some to the nearest penny, depending on your mood. This “solution” is just as silly. Consistent formatting and structure is important.)

Your priority list for accomplishments is to retain those most recent and delete those earlier in your career that are the same. The reasoning is that in your more recent jobs you performed them at a more senior level and they are therefore more important.

Summary lists of areas of expertise are usually a waste of space. In any list of 10 that I see on resumes, half are duplicates. What is the difference between budgeting and planning as separate items? Aren’t they the same? And does closing the books really have to be there? You will find that most of these lists are better covered in your brief summary statement or clearly demonstrated in your accomplishments.

Under the heading of mandatory space, give proper “respect” to your education. I cringe when I see BS and MBA abbreviated. These education achievements were the bedrock of your career and deserve a little space. And, don’t use the nickname of your school. As far as I know, UCLA is the University of California at Los Angeles. This isn’t a football game being announced, it is your career.

Another mandatory that eats up space is a simple one or two line statement for each company. What industry are they in? What is their scale of operation in sales or employees? They may be brand names to you, but may be unknown to resume screeners who WERE born yesterday.

Even after you have done all of this you have to keep rewriting. Yes, I know you will now not know what it even says anymore having read it so many times. So, bring in an “expert.” Actually, bring in someone who DOESN’T know what you do and have them read it.

Are there any words they don’t know? Are there any abbreviations they don’t recognize? Remember, you only get 15 seconds.

Oh, and if you do go to three pages, or two pages, all pages have to be filled. You only get 25 words or less. Don’t make it much less. You need every word you can get to communicate that marvelous background of yours.

Regards, Matt

Comments are closed.