The number one reason behind creating a resume is very simple, but often overlooked. Your ultimate goal is to gain an interview. Your goal is not to impress, nor is it to tell your entire life story – that is what the interview is for. Keep in mind that most job offers attract hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes in today’s market.
Imagine you are an employer, and you have a stack of hundreds of resumes on your desk. The more resumes you read the less focused you are and the sleepier you become, because let’s face it, no one enjoys reading through a mountain of paperwork.
Odds are, the resume you submit to an employer is closer to the bottom of the stack than the top. Because of this reason, your resume needs to be good enough to warrant the attention of an employer who is sick and tired of reading about the life histories of a bunch of strangers. Since your potential employer doesn’t have the time or the patience to read hundreds of mini-biographies, you can have a leg up on the competition if apply this wonderful cliche to your resume writing – “less is more”. Why say something in fifty words when you can say it in ten words?
Your employer isn’t poring over every word you have written. Your employer is instead scanning each page of your resume looking for things that will attract attention. The first page of information in your resume is the most important. This is the page that will make or break you. Your goal with this page is to include as much information as possible, using the least amount of words possible, and to format the page in a visually appealing way. Using a small font is NOT a good way to get noticed, and is the worst possible way to cram information onto a page.
However, you cannot go wrong with bolded headings, bullet points, and brief descriptions that are designed to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to know more about you. Think about this page as a Table of Contents for your resume.
You also want to make sure that some, if not all, of your relevant experience and skills are mentioned on the first page in some capacity, as well as your contact information (don’t make your potential employer search the resume for your phone number or email). Remember, you can expound on the aforementioned skills and experiences in the following pages, as well as any/all information involved in the screening process (such as education, years of experience, etc) and any additional information that might favorably influence your employer’s decision, such as political affiliations or companies worked for.
Lastly, but most importantly, you want to establish yourself as a competent writer with high standards. An easy-to-read resume that is properly formatted and expertly written tells just as much about you as the skills and experiences you possess, and makes your resume all the more likely to make the first cut.
Good luck out there, and happy job hunting!