Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Not all Resume Advice is Good Advice

Advice on how to write a resume is as varied as you might imagine. Shine by Yahoo today posted an article by Shine Blogger, StyleCaster. Below is the posting along with comments by myself. The key is to take all the advice and process it to best suit your own job search and lifestyle.

Is Your Resume Costing You a Dream Job?
by StyleCaster, on Thu Nov 26, 2009 8:36am PST

Contrary to Legally Blonde, dyeing your resume pink and bathing it in Chanel No. 5 will not get you into Harvard, nor will it get you a job. In case you take career advice from Elle Woods, below you will find the worst resume mistakes in the history of resumes mistakes, followed by why these little errors are the reason why you're not even granted a pity interview. Spell check doesn't catch everything, and no one cares how active you were in Girl Scouts, unless you traveled to India to empower girls to sell Thin Mints. Which, in that case, we'll take two boxes.

The header

The idea of a resume is to fit the most pertinent information into a small space. (On that note, a resume should NEVER, under any circumstances, be more than one page long.) Your name and contact information should not be size 40 font, and you should include multiple ways of contacting you; phone, address, and email are sufficient.

[Here is where I disagree with StyleCaster. Recruiters today don't expect professional candidates to squish all of their important information on to one page. It is not only acceptable but also common to have your resume on two pages. However, don't let the information get out of control. Keep it succinct and professional and don't let it progress past two well-tailored pages. The ten page resume gets deleted just as quickly as the one page with no margins and too much information squeezed on.]

The objective

This should be no more than 5 or 6 words, and should state exactly what you are looking for. Keep in mind your wording could give them an impression of how experienced, or inexperienced you are. If it says "Seeking an entry-level position," guess what? That's the salary you'll be offered.

[Many recruiters also suggest that you leave an objective off all together. If you still feel the need to include it, tailor it to each individual company that you apply to. Recruiters will not consider a resume where the objective is "To seek a position in Accounting" that has been submitted to a clearly labeled Receptionist job posting. Instead, you may want to consider a summary or just begin your resume with relevant experience.]

Your experiences

Think of a resume like an upside-down pyramid. The most important information should be on the top, and the farther down the page you go, the less important the information is. Your potential employers knows how to skim resumes, and if they don't see something impressive in the beginning, they will move on. Make sure your experiences are first, recognizable names and companies are more impressive than what school you went to.

[Another rule of thumb for resumes is to keep it to the last ten years of professional experience. Recruiters and hiring managers don't need to see that you worked at McDonald's in college if you have also had 15 years of otherwise professional experience.]

Things not to include

Reasons why you were fired or left from a job, winning a spelling bee in high school, and your high school GPA and SAT scores. Also, do not include typos. Have ten people read your resume over after you, so that they might catch any grammatical errors that you may not have caught. Also, do not include your Myspace or Facebook page link. Chances are, if you're being considered for the job...they'll see it soon enough, anyway. Also, do not link to your personal blog unless it is somewhat successful or extremely relevant to the job you're applying for. Lastly, do not rhyme. (Saying you have a passion for fashion is more than not okay.)

[Not completely inappropriate advice. However, I would encourage you to use your LinkedIn page link on your resume. It is becoming a common standard for today's professional networking. But I do agree with the advice about your blog. If you have a successful blog that matches your career path, by all means include it. This also applies to hobbies; if your hobby directly relates to the position to which you are applying, feel free to include it. If not, leave it off along with other personal information including your birth date, photographs, or marital status.]

The worst thing you could do

And finally. Never appear at an interview without a copy of your resume. Can't find a printer in time? Reschedule the interview. Unless you won the Nobel Peace Prize, showing up sans resume is what Liz Lemon calls a dealbreaker, ladies.

[This is true - recruiters and hiring managers typically have a copy of your resume, but it shows another level of attention to detail if you bring one yourself. However, I believe it is negligent advice to reschedule an interview just because you have been unable to locate a printer. Be a 100% professional candidate and don't let either event happen.]