Recently I had a spirited conversation with a job seekers group about resume trends.
Everyone brought their resume and I brought samples for discussion purposes. I think everyone took home some ideas.
As usual, we started with two admonishments:
Everyone should know what they want. Always the best way to start because, otherwise, how will you know what aspects of your fantastic career to include in your resume? Without knowing what you want, you will just randomly add stuff. Your resume will just be a list of stuff.
Be strategic. Identify three of the most important things you want the company to know about you. Sprinkle accomplishments about those important items through your resume. Eliminate everything not related to your top priorities.
These are my resume non-negotiables:
Find keywords. Look through job descriptions to find words that appear in all the jobs you want. Sprinkle those words throughout your resume. Consider ways to replace your keywords for similar words. This will help you be found.
Place keywords strategically in the top half of page 1. This is the most valuable real estate on your resume. Set up your keywords and phrases in a table at the top and repeat those keywords frequently in the job experience text.
Have a headline. The headline is one of the first places readers look. Readers get an impression in their minds of what they should expect from the accomplishments tucked into the resume. Everything else they read either confirms or denies the headline. So make the best first impression with the right headline.
Use less words and offer plenty of white space. Like a reduced sauce in a restaurant, fewer words allows you to keep the flavor while making a more intense impression. Your resume should look pleasing to the eye so the reader notices what you want them to see, not a million words wall to wall on the page.
These are the other ideas that we came up with:
Use color to make a brand impression. Graphics, columns, color blocking, and colored lines are all acceptable these days, in most professions. Make your branding consistent across your resume, business cards and LinkedIn profile.
Use bullets and sub-bullets to make it easier for readers to see your accomplishments.
Take off dates on education unless you are a recent graduate. Also, education goes at the end unless you are a recent graduate.
Don’t break up a job between two pages. Find a way to have all the information about a specific job title on the same page. You can divide experiences in one company onto a second page but not the bullets for one job.
Be consistent with font, bolding, capitalization, and spacing. Avoid underlining.
Two pages vs one page? Your choice, but I draw the line at more than two pages for almost anyone.
Pictures? I don’t think so but I’ve seen pictures included on some really beautiful resumes lately, so it is your call. You already have a picture on your LinkedIn profile. You could put it on your business card and marketing brochure if you want, but I would keep it off the resume.
A resume is a tool that is just one piece in your job search plan. You MUST have a resume that helps you stand out from the crowd and catches the attention of hiring managers. If not, you may not even get to the interview stage of your job search.
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