Tonight’s editorial will be somewhat of a repeat for our more senior members as it is on resumes. Yes, those terribly difficult to construct documents that make the critical difference between being pulled from a pile of 500 resumes, or not.
You should all accept the fact that writing your resume is somewhat analogous to taking out your own appendix. Only you know that you are sick, but doing the whole operation yourself can be dicey at best. It doesn’t hurt from time to time to seek out some professional or semi-professional help like a member of The FENG’s Resume Review Committee to help you put the finishing touches on this marketing document. (Contact ResumeReview@TheFENG.org for this kind of help.)
There are quite a few common problems, most of which can be deadly, but all of which are easily solved.
Let’s begin with your email address. Have an easily readable email address. There are certain letters in Arial that look alike in lower case. The number one and the letter L are almost indistinguishable. The letter R next to the letter N can also be a problem, but if this is your name it can still work. Silly email addresses like the one I used to use of CPTSafety@aol.com are also out. (I have a sailboat and my kids used to call me Captain Safety.) The best approach is to use a corporate convention format like your first initial and last name, or if you are lucky like me, your whole name, as in MattBud@TheFECG.com. Now notice how I have used upper case and lower case to make it more readable. Even though the Internet isn’t case sensitive, upper case and lower case can be used for clarity when needed.
Call me Mr. Magoo, but I absolutely hate any type fonts smaller than 12 point type. If you are expecting anyone to read your 8 point type accomplishments, you are just kidding yourself. It isn’t going to happen. Make it easy for your reader or don’t complain about your lack of responses.
The next test is to email your resume to 10 friends. Have them scan what prints and send you back the result, but make sure they understand that they are not to fix your resume in any way shape or form to make it print properly. You will find that often your margins have fallen apart and your beautiful 2 page resume has become 4 pages with two pages showing only 2 lines each. Or, you will find your page break (which you didn’t force) is in the wrong place.
Margins less than 1 inch all around is another no no. Again, things don’t always open as you would like. What looks great on your computer will not work on someone else’s. The issue is printer drivers and font conversions. The best approach is to stick with common fonts and sizes. I guess I am just boring, but I actually like Times New Roman, and since it is the default font in Word, you can be pretty well assured it will work.
There is no substitute for a sharp electronic pencil. Eliminating unnecessary words takes time, but it is time well spent, and far better than reducing the font or widening the margins. If you must, make your resume 4 pages, but please don’t also use a small type font and narrow margins. Keeping it all readable is your primary goal.
One thing that makes me a little crazy is the use of upper case letters in the wrong places. If your last name is McDonald, don’t let anyone put it on your resume as MCDONALD. It just doesn’t look right. The same thing goes for companies at which you have worked. CBS is certainly not Cbs, but there are lots of company names that are more easily recognized in Title case. If you have even one firm you have worked for that would look better in Title case, make all of them conform. There is no rule that company names be in CAPS.
If you are not good at formatting, find someone who is who can help you. If you want to go it alone, at least give Bolding a work out on your resume. (I really do get a few resumes with NO formatting from time to time.)
Getting your resume pulled is in large part a contest. Take a pile of resumes and see if yours looks at least as good as the average. If it doesn’t, fix it.
This should get you started. (And let the games begin.) Hint — I want you to look like a winner and WIN!