When you sit down to write your resume, the upper most thought in your mind should be, “What does a recruiter want to see in my resume that will convince him or her that I am the perfect candidate for the job?”
But before that question is answered a flood of other questions enter into the dilemma: Should the resume be one page? Should the format be traditional, functional, or a combination of both styles? Should I stick to a resume template to keep things simple? Short of hiring a resume professional who knows the answers to all these questions and more, here are what a few experts have to say about resumes.
Most recruiters note that two- or even three-page resumes are acceptable as long as the content is relevant, and bullet points succinct. There are still those people who want to see one-page resumes, but I believe they are in the minority, and I don’t agree with them, especially if an executive has had a full career with a multitude of accomplishments.
Executive Tip: If you are uncertain about your industry, do some research to find out the “normal” resume length. And what’s more important than the length of the resume, is that it tells a story to the recruiter about why you’re the right fit for the position.
Creative Resume Style:
“Doing extra credit like a video (even if it’s an unedited webcam clip) can go a long way in distinguishing yourself from other candidates,” says Steffi Wu, PR Lead at ZenPayroll. Thinking outside the box can be a way to stand out from your competition, however, a recent study revealed that too many visual elements reduced recruiters’ analytical capabilities and hampered decision-making. Keep in mind some hiring managers still prefer the plain paper version.
Executive Tip: If you are in a creative field (marketing, media industry, etc.) it is definitely worth considering creating a creative resume. (I would recommend always having a traditional style resume in addition to whatever creative medium you choose to build a creative resume.) What’s most important: is to make sure your skills and experience are highlighted no matter what style resume you use.
“Pretty” Resume Design:
Creating a visually pleasing design may help capture the recruiter’s attention initially, but, for example, if you don’t use a legible font (a common font that everyone’s computer and printer can read) all your great creative design may be unread due to incompatibility.
Executive Tip: Consider your industry - are you applying to a conservative law firm, or Google? What would appeal to the recruiters hiring in a traditional industry versus a creative industry? What’s important: save your resume file as a PDF so that you can check how the font styles show up on the screen. It also keeps people from making changes to your resume once you have submitted it for a position.
At one time this section was an integral part of a resume. Then when resumes pared down to basic information during the dot.com / dot.bomb era, interests were not seen as important data on resumes. Well, according to recruiting consultant Michael Wade, “Our view is that there is nothing wrong with an applicant disclosing some personal interests, so long as those inclusions are not bizarre or distasteful.”
Executive Tip: If your interests are relevant to the position (key here is “relevant”), they may be curious conversation starters, and bump you above other executives with similar experience. Check out the company’s blog for clues to the company culture and this may help you identify which of your interests may help you fit in.
With the keyword-sensitive applicant tracking systems in place today, it is important that the executive job title is specific. Companies may have their own terminology that doesn’t really give a clear picture, i.e., they may use words like “manager,” or “leader,” while the true position is an executive role. Many career experts encourage updating your job title to better reflect your true role with the company. A “Vice President of International Media Production” says so much more to the reader than just “Vice President.”
Executive Tip: If you have a vague or unique-to-your-company job title, retitling your job can be helpful. Be sure to keep the title congruent with your position and I would suggest putting the actual job title in parenthesis in case the recruiter calls the company to check on you.