Are you still clinging to the old fashioned resume rules? Read on as I rewrite the olden days rules to fit this modern world of job hunting!
I remember when I first learned to write a resume there were a few "rules" I was taught that I must adhere to in order to secure that interview - but I can tell you after screening tens of thousands of resumes over the past 15 years that many of those "rules" are completely false. And the worst thing is that I still see them recommended all the time now. I want to use the experience I’ve gained plus the knowledge gained from industry professionals to reframe these old fashioned rules to fit into our modern day.
Each year brings new updates and changes, so I'm revisiting this article to add some 2019 updates!
1. Resume Length
The standard for so long now is 1-2 pages, but that standard was created back in the day when a recruiter or hiring manager had to go through paper resumes. But now? Most resumes are only looked at online so scrolling through the pages is nothing. That's not to say you should submit a 10 page resume if you are a new grad! But it does give you a little more flexibility. I think of it in terms of level of career. If you are new to your career then stick to that 1-2 pages, if you are experienced you can go up to 2-3 pages, and if you are an executive or seasoned professional than 3-5 pages is completely acceptable and in fact would be preferred.
The key here is to make sure the resume gives a good picture of who you are and how you match the job requirements - you don’t want it to be too short (or too long) where that message is lost.
2019 Update: according to a large Randstad recruiter survey, 71% of recruiters want to see a resume that reflects the person's career.
2. Need a strong "Objective" statement
Now I'm not opposed to the objective statement, but 80% of hiring managers or recruiters do not read the objective or professional statement, me included. When I’m advising clients I advise them to include a shot succinct and tailored objective statement giving an overview of who they are as a professional. What I like about the objective is it gives the resume writer a focus to grow upon. To be honest thought, the main reason I like it? It isn't for the content but more for the layout and look of the resume!
The key here is to include one that makes sense for who you are and what job you are applying to but don’t spend more than a minute or two on it!
2019 Update: The formatting aesthetics plus giving a great overview of who you are still the main reasons why you should include this!
3. Resume must be black and white.
This is another rule from the old fashioned job search era. But now, a little bit of colour goes a long way in getting your resume noticed, especially if the role is creative or there is anything in the posting about looking for innovative, thinking outside of the box, or creative problem solving. There are a couple of ways I've seen color used right - in the formatting (blue lines, coloured headers) or in the content (name, position titles, company titles in colour).
The key is to use the colour sparingly and in an intentional way to ensure it, and therefore you, will really pop!
2019 Update: Strategic use of colour is the way to go!
4. Two Resume Types - Reverse Chronological or Skills Based/Functional
There is only one choice - the reverse chronological. I have a strong dislike for the Skills Based/Functional and toss it aside when one comes across my desk - a sentiment shared by many hiring managers and recruiters. We typically spend 10 seconds for an initial review of a resume looking at the following:
The key here is simple, use the reverse chronological resume format! If you have gaps of employment, don’t worry. If you work experience doesn’t contain your relevant experience, there are other ways around that (posts for another day!)
2019 Update: this will never change UNLESS you are in Academia.
5. Your Resume gets you the Interview
Yes, in some cases you resume alone does get you the interview. But in this modern age of job hunting chances are there are some other factors at play. A lot of hiring managers and recruiters check out your social media accounts. So please check your Facebook - what is the privacy, do you have a "professional" profile pic and cover photo (make sure they are appropriate, something you be comfortable with your grandmother seeing!), same with your Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat feeds. If you have a lot of inappropriate posts then make your feeds private.
Also update that LinkedIn! Include a really nice photograph of yourself, just yourself, no one else. Most importantly, make sure it lines up with your resume! I have gotten a resume that fit exactly what I was looking for then went to their LinkedIn only to find a completely different story, that raised a major red flag. Needless to say those people do not get the interview.
Don't forget the leg work you did before applying, search LinkedIn to see who you may think the hiring manager is and if they are in your network maybe have someone introduce you to them. If this is a targeted company you have been interested in then I hope you have already made some contacts with the hiring managers so reach back out with a separate email to your application with your resume reminding them on your initial conversation. In these cases it is your networking that gets you the job interview!
The key here is to take your job search seriously. When clients and I work together to develop their job search strategy, I make sure to include the social media updates and the many different forms of networking. I encourage you to do the same, that leg work goes a long way in securing you those coveted interviews!
Here are some additional rules for you to follow for a current and modern resume.
1. Font Choice
Back in the day Times New Roman reigned supreme on all documents including the Resume. Well, that is no longer the case! In fact using Times New Roman can come across as dated. I would pick a font that you love and that are drawn to (but not Comic Sans or the like). Great fonts are Tahoma, Calibri, and Century Gothic.
Add in some interesting formatting to your resume. Something like a box, lines or colour. Something to add some visual interest.
3. Content Updates
First off, take out "references available upon request", that is to be expected and it takes unnecessary space.
Secondly, your resume should not read like a job description! Your bullet points should not be 1 liners that are really vague, craft a sentence that paints a picture of what you did.
Speaking of bullet points - a lot of the narrative is to have all accomplishments listed in your resume. However, if you are applying for a task based role we may be missing out on some keywords. Plus, a recruiter or hiring manager may not see the fit that easily, and our goal is to make it as easy as possible for them. Instead include both (with a KEY ACCOMPLISHMENTS heading).
Sara Curto helps people find a career they love by teaching them a new way to job search.
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