I have seen my fair share of interesting resumes – some are fifteen pages with little useful information and some are one-and-a-half pages with…no useful information at all. It’s tough deciding what information is pertinent to include and what can be better left for an interview, especially if you’re looking at it subjectively. That being said, sometimes I get some initial push-back from clients when I turn their multi-page resume covering over thirty years of experience into one, sometimes maybe two pages. The reality is that decision-makers and even human resources professionals no longer have time to read through tons of information to maybe get a hint of the value you might bring.
Be stingy with the amount of information you choose to reveal about yourself and your career. Make them ask questions. When you get a phone call from a potential employer or even a recruiter asking for more information or asking you to come in, you’ll know the resume has done its job. Your objective with the resume is to garner some interest in what you have to offer.
What do you have to offer? Although you technically have a limited amount of space to work with, this is your chance to showcase achievements that are unique to your career. Instead of handing out a paper that lists the same responsibilities for each position or that looks the same as everyone else’s, show them what you can and have already done. Be specific without boring the reader with mundane details. Confusing? Consider the following two job descriptions – same person, same position:
- Responsible for managing and supervising engineering team and department budget. Managed software development, including requirements gathering, management presentations, project scope and costing, contract development, and delivery. Handled training, end-user support, testing, and troubleshooting. Reported to the vice president of engineering and developed and submitted progress reports.
- Led 35-person engineering team through full-phase software development, managing $30M annual budget; facilitated training, testing, end-user support, and troubleshooting.
The second example brings in the specifics without including information that is already assumed. Of course it’s easy to just add and add to a resume as the years go by, but by the time 20 years goes by, your fist position as a business analyst doesn’t mean as much anymore.
With recent or soon-to-be graduates, it’s always difficult to know what to include when information is sometimes scarce. However, what you have been doing in school, whether projects, internships, co-ops, or volunteer work, can be easily adjusted to show that you have the transferable skills decision-makers are looking for.
- Communication (one-on-one and group)
- Technical Knowledge/Skills
- Team Collaboration
- Time Management
- Loyalty/Realistic Expectations
- Writing Abilities
- Professionalism (appearance and attitude)
Are there any instances where you demonstrated these skills, but thought it would never be important to mention? Share your experiences.
Sigmarie Soto, CPRW
Career Services International