There are so many variations of resumes that often times it becomes an overly ridiculous cliché. The truth be told, you don’t need to have every detail about your previous employment history and fifteen paragraphs describing what you did for every position you ever held, nor do you need to spend a fortune having someone else create your resume. Keeping a resume brief without all of the fluff is the most appropriate and effective method for getting a phone call, especially in the current job market. Employers don’t want to read long drawn out paragraphs with “I” and “me” statements, they just want the facts in short descriptions.
It’s funny when I have clients who tell me “I have a great resume” or “My resume was done by a professional and it doesn’t need to be updated” and then they send it to me. I look it over and find so many errors and improvements that can be made, and then I wonder, “what kind of professional wrote your resume, and how much money did you spend on this…its terrible!” Of course, I never say that out-loud but I do fix the problems. Generally the clients are blown away at the difference in what they had and what I give them because I can turn a three page resume into one page and still have the same information without all the fluff and redundancies.
What is a five star resume?
Five key elements need to be in a resume for it to be an effective sales tool. After all, the resume is what you will use to sell an employer on your strengths and abilities before they meet with you personally. In addition, the presentation or “format” of the resume has a big impact on whether the employer will read it over or throw it away. The font you use on a resume is very important; it is the presentation and part of the design. I have seen far too many resumes that have various font styles and sizes and it makes the resume look a mess.
Five Things to know about style and formatting a resume
- Contact Information- This is what employers will see first, there are different ways to include this information but one way I advise against, is everything centered on the top of the page, as it takes up too much room. Key information to include will be your first and last name, your email address, your quadrant, city and postal code, and your phone number(s). If you don’t have a quadrant, just your city and postal code is fine. Also, it is up to you whether you use both your home and cell phone numbers if you have both.
- Margins-This can be tricky, especially when designing your resume to fit to one page but don’t worry, you do have a little leeway in setting them to accommodate your information. There is no “standard” but I prefer to use the whole page. In doing this I will select “page layout” from the Word ribbon at the top of the page and then select “Margins,” once in the margin settings I select “Narrow.” You can also use the default setting of “Normal” but it won’t allow you to use the whole page. I also select “No Spacing” from the style ribbon and adjust the spacing as I work through the document.
- Wizards- I realize that for some, the Microsoft Wizards for resumes are a lifesaver, as they provide a pre-made format however, if you are going to email your resume to a potential employer the downside of these wizards is the boxes the information is stored in shows up when the employer opens it. The wizards are designed as tables and each piece of information you use is stored into a table format (box). The boxes don’t show up when you print but they do when opened on a computer. I am not a fan of wizards but if you need to use them, by all means do so.
- Font-Stick to one size and style of font my preference is Arial Narrow size 11 for most of the information. I do however use bold headings in small caps with underlines for key information. Please DO NOT USE ALL CAPS TO BOLD A HEADING!!! It just looks bad. Try using the first letter of each heading in a capital letter and use the other letters in the “small caps” form, then underline and make it bold, but make sure to turn off those features for the bulleted descriptions. The bulleted descriptions should never be bold, underlined, or have periods at the end.
- Substance- The substance of the resume is within the information you provide. Stay away from long paragraphs about yourself, and use descriptions instead-without using phrases such as, “I sold 22 million widgets,” you can tell the employer that at an interview. The descriptions are there to make your skills stand out and show how it relates back to your summary. Also, leave hobbies out of the resume unless it pertains to the job you’re applying for. Volunteer work is another gray area but if you have room after all of the pertinent information feel free to add it under your employment history. Please…NEVER, NEVER, NEVER add your references to the resume, this should be on a separate piece of paper and sent in addition to the resume if and ONLY if the employer asks for it…this also includes the phrase “references available on request” that phrase is not necessary on a resume because if an employer is interested in hiring you, they will ask for your references.
Now that you have background on the way to format and style a resume, have a look at Developing a Five Star Resume – Part 2 for the things you need to include in the resume, and how to include it.