We all know the stats on about how quickly a resume is skimmed before getting moved along or tossed into the trash. Studies vary from 3 or 4 seconds up to 6 or 8 from what I’ve read. While there perhaps remains a degree of ambiguity as to the precise duration, we can all agree it is very quickly.
Everyone wants their resume to get reviewed properly. The question is...
How do you make your resume last long enough to actually get read?
Before getting into the specifics let’s cover the #1 overarching rule to follow. Are you ready?
If it is not essential, leave it off! Seems simple, but the single biggest mistake is oversaturating a resume with needless information. Keep it to the essentials.
Now those specifics, here are some guidelines to help you get the results you want out of your resume.
First, 6 things to avoid...
Never ever ever put a picture on your resume. The exception here applies only to professions where physical appearance is part of the screening process. Acting, modeling, and things of that nature. Not essential.
2. Physical Descriptors
Your height, weight, level of physical fitness, hair color and other personal descriptors are not relevant or in any way expected. Leave them off. Not essential.
3. Hobbies or Interests
It is great if you have hobbies or interests you are passionate about but they have no place on a resume. Save it for the interview or your online dating profile. Noticing a trend here? Refer back to Rule #1. Not essential, leave it off.
4. Personal Works
Any personal blogs, websites, side businesses, or similar matters you may be associated with are not relevant to a professional job search.
5. Employer-related Jargon
Many companies have awards, training programs, and things of that nature specific to them. To anyone who has never worked there these mean nothing at all. They become clutter so leave them out. When in an interview setting where you can expand upon them it is fine to discuss them.
6. Colored or Exotic Font, Graphics, or Charts
Forget creativity. Your resume won’t stand out, at least not in a positive way, by turning into a graphic design or art project.
Ok, now here are the top 3 things that do belong on your resume, but just because it does belong we cannot forget Rule #1. We still only want essential information.
1. Name, Address, and Contact Information.
This should be at the top of your resume. You want to include first and last name, phone and email contact (never use a work email address or phone) and home address. Be sure to include a zip code, too.
2. Employer, Title, Tenure, and Function.
For each position you list you want to address all of these.
- Where did you work?
- What was your title?
- When were you there?
- What did you do?
The trick is to keep the function, or what you did, simple. A few bullet points are all you need. What your role was, major accomplishments, and that is it. See an example below. You don’t want to list every detail of your role. Focus on the highlights and keep it simple.
ABC Agency, Chicago, IL 2011-2016
Vice President – Risk Management Specialist
I sell Commercial Lines Property Casualty coverage to clients in all areas of business with a strong presence in the food processing and manufacturing industries.
- $750,000 to $800,000 in annual revenue on existing property casualty accounts.
- $300,000 to $400,000 in annual revenue on existing employee benefits accounts linked to my book.
- Serve as Vice President and Sales Leader of the agency’s Risk Management (PC) division.
You don’t want to list every detail of your role. Focus on the highlights and keep it simple.
3. Education, Professional Designations, Licensure
Here you list schools attended (collegiate level or higher only) along with any professional designations or accreditations you have earned. I you are in an industry with licensure then list which you hold as well.
What you are going for is precision and simplicity. Your resume should be readable, clear, concise and informative without being needlessly word. This is best accomplished by following the only rule and focusing on what is essential and what is not. In the end, you’ll see your resume given the time and consideration it deserves.