Your resume is your number one marketing tool, so you need to pay careful attention to every detail. Here are a few points to review when writing or updating your resume.
Length. Gone are the days when resumes were limited to one page. If your experience and skills necessitate the extra space, take it. That being said, do not waste space with unnecessary detail. Hiring managers do not need to know every miniscule detail of your day-to-day tasks, just the essential functions of your previous positions.
Objective section. In most cases, I recommend leaving out an “Objective” section, because it can limit your opportunities with potential employers. If your objective section states you are looking for a sales position, then employers may discard your resume if a great opening in account management is open--a position you might love to have. I recommend including an Objective section to candidates who are transitioning careers or to new graduates, so potential employers understand why they are applying for a position that is not reflected by past experiences.
Education. I typically encourage candidates to include their educational experience near the end of their resumes, as employers are more interested in your work history than you educational background. Exceptions to this rule are recent college graduates or those candidates who have attained advanced degrees, such as an MBA, later in their careers.
Job History. I use the title “Professional Experience” to introduce this section on most resumes. Make sure to include your job title and dates of employment first, as well as the month and year for all positions in (at least) the last 5 years. Immediately following this information, include the name of your previous employers. If these are well known employers, do not elaborate on the nature of their business. If these are smaller employers, you should include one sentence about the company's main area of business. When describing your job responsibilities, bullet point each detail of your responsibilities separately. Make sure to include strong action phrases in describing your duties. For example, instead of writing “strong business development skills”, write “Attained 150% of quota each quarter”. Unless it is unavoidable, limit your job duties to 4 bullet points.
References. Never include your references at the end of your resume. This information wastes space and will be requested later in the interview process. Additionally, there is no reason to include the phrase “References furnished upon request.” It is generally assumed you will provide references when requested.
Overall, the appearance of your resume should be easy to read and not have a cluttered look. If you have access to someone in a human resource field, ask them to critique your resume. If not, have someone you trust proofread your resume for mistakes and grammatical errors. The general appearance of your resume is almost as important as the content. Employers will assume that you are organized and well-spoken if your resume gives this impression, so make sure to put a lot of time into making it the best resume possible. The goal here is to get your foot in the door, so put your best foot forward!
Matt Lowney is a Nashville, Tenn., based corporate recruiter and career consultant specializing in the areas healthcare and information technology. If you would like any additional information, please send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org