There are many theories about how to write an effective resume and after 25 years in recruiting, I have a good idea of what is and is not effective. Let’s go through the essential elements of a resume and the tips for persuasively expressing your relevant information.
Resume Length & Format:
While many believe a resume has to be short, I have seen candidates get interviews with both 1 and 20 page resumes. The question of resume length should be determined by the amount of information you must write to convey your relevant experience to your current job search. You may choose to use a bullet point or paragraph format depending on your writing style and the points you are trying to make.
To start, your name should be at the top in the center in a large type, with your email address and cell phone number underneath it. It is not necessary or required to put your home address, nor your office phone number.
Describing Your Background:
To begin laying out your background, start with a section titled “Description.” I prefer the title “Description” over “Summary” because this section provides an opportunity to describe yourself. I have had managers say they read the summary section, get the gist of who you are and refuse to read the body of the resume before proceeding to the next candidate’s resume. I would describe in a line or two your experience, strongest skills and education, which the body of the resume should re-enforce. You may also include a line on your professionalism or professional outlook but stay away from describing the type of position, title, location or compensation you desire. Do not give hiring managers a reason to reject your resume before it really begins.
The format I would use for the next sections are straight forward; the skill summary, work experience, educational background, and certification sections. If you are an older job seeker and have a long work history, only go as far as relevant information that will translate to your next position. You may add “additional work experience available upon request,” especially if the experience is not related to your current work. If you earned your degree before 1980, I would not put the date next to the university or degree earned, as it may turn off potential hiring managers.
If you have a degree with any specialization, I recommend adding the specialization under your degree earned. If you did not go to college or if you did but did not receive a degree, I would put the highest-level degree you received from any academic level, or provide the university and field of study. If you have a good reason for not completing your degree, you may consider stating the reason. If you are uncomfortable providing your academic background, then you may want to consider leaving the education section off the resume altogether.
A list of Professional Certifications you’ve earned or any Publications should be placed below your educational background. I would refrain from placing more than 3 or 4 relevant or enlightening publications on the resume. If you have more than 3 or 4 articles, you may state under the last one, “additional publications available and provided upon request.”
You might also want to include a line on your personal areas of interest aside from your work, (such as chess, tennis, lectures, public speaking or rock climbing, etc.) but do not have more than one line on outside interests. Be sure to include any external speaking, mentoring or work-related actions you have performed.
Do not put your references and/or their contact information on your resume, ever. Instead, end your resume with, “References Available Upon Request,” and be sure those references are available and aware that you are using them for a reference in connection with your job search. Be sure to use people who know you well, that can vouch for your work and will speak well of you without going over the top.
All in all, not every resume is going to be identical. Focus on writing an effective resume that shows that you are the best candidate, whether it be one page with descriptive paragraphs or 20 with concise bullet points.