By John Worth, Director of Alumni Career Management
Have you ever heard the adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”? This adage has often been used to reflect how important a candidate’s attire, body posture, handshake, eye contact and even smile can be on the first impression formed by an interviewer. It also reflects how this first impression, once formed, can be very difficult to change. While many candidates are aware of how important these factors can be in making a first impression during an interview, many do not realize that a first impression may have been formed long before the interview. The resume you submit may be forming that first impression.
Candidates clearly never would purposefully choose an outfit that doesn’t go together, wear mismatched socks, or forget to comb their hair. So why do so many candidates pay so little attention to the importance a resume can have on a first impression? Here are a few suggestions that can help.
1. Your resume should be a professional, “together” and visually appealing document. Pay attention to the size and style of the font used and do not use several margins or indentations on the same page. Avoid using an extra- large or garish font for your name. While your name will certainly be noticed, you also may come across as garish, egotistical, or abrasive. Borders, if used, should be subtle and should not detract attention away from the content of your resume.
2. Avoid “over bolding”. On some resumes I have seen, numerous words have been bolded for emphasis. Too often, the result can be a confusing, hard to read resume that does not succeed in emphasizing the information that is MOST important. Key words often are important, but they do not all need to bolded to show up on a software or visual scan.
3. Your resume needs to survive the “glance test”. Recruiters glance at resumes first; they read them later only if they are interested. Your profile or summary (if you have one) must be brief and concise. Avoid long, drawn out narratives that include numerous skills, attributes and expertise you have developed over the years. Focus your profile on the skills most relevant to the position you are seeking and what you bring to the table that can add value to this job.
4. Keep your bullet statements to a maximum of three lines. Begin each description of your role or task with an action verb (managed, created, designed, analyzed) and use crisp phrases to describe what you did, the context around it, and the result you achieved or the value you added. Avoid including unnecessary detail that detracts from the impressiveness of your result.
5. Keep your resume to a maximum of two pages. While a one page resume can be very effective, cramming a tremendous amount of information onto one page can produce a busy, hard to read document that badly fails the “glance test”. If you have significant work experience, a second page will probably be needed, but reduce the number of bullets describing your least recent jobs to a bare minimum so that you can provide proper emphasis to your most current job and roles.
I hope these suggestions have been helpful. Please contact me at email@example.com if you have questions or would like to arrange an appointment.