Summertime is usually when many people are on the move. School is out and it’s the perfect time to change jobs if that is your plan. There is time to move and the kids can settle in before the new school year starts. Also, college grads are (should be) out on the hunt for a new job so they can put their new found knowledge to use…. and pay off those student loans! However, none of this matters if your resume is outdated and boring. If you are in the market for a new job or just starting to consider a job change, it is imperative to take a look at your resume and find ways to update it and make it shine.
Put the Good Stuff Up Front and Center
When newspapers print stories, they put the best/juiciest/most newsworthy “above the fold.” Above the fold meaning front and center, the only thing people see at first glance is above the fold. Recruiters sift through hundreds of resumes every day and I assume their job can get pretty monotonous. Much like newspapers, your resume needs to put the juiciest stuff above the metaphorical fold (please don’t fold your resume). Recruiters generally only consider the first 1/3 (“above the fold”) of your resume’s first page. That is it – mere seconds of an eye scan is all you get for a first impression. If your resume does not intrigue the recruiter within that first 1/3 of your resume, consider it toast, a wadded up basketball for their trash can hoop!
Let’s talk about what would be considered juicy resume items. Make sure your name (hopefully this is obvious), email address, personal home address, and phone number are displayed prominently at the top of the resume. Please spell your name right, and put down the right phone number. If your email address is harleydude_1978, don’t use that email, it is not professional. Jim.Smith@gmail.com is much better, and much cleaner looking (that goes for you, too, “firstname.lastname@example.org”). If you have a government security clearance, this might be the juiciest bit. Put your clearance level and status at the top right under your contact info, include the year of your last adjudication.
Anything left to fill up the “above the fold” portion of your resume needs to be filled with eye catching skills, certifications and awards. This is the time where humility needs to be thrown aside, this is your time to shine.
Cut the Clutter, Lose the Colors
The worst thing you can do to your resume is clutter it with useless information. Personal information has no place on a good, professional resume. If you are using 10 different fonts, the recruiter will trash your resume faster than you can say “Wingdings!” Avoid over using bold fonts, italics and different styles altogether. A good resume font to use is Times New Roman, this is a professional and clean font.
Lastly, please, please, do not use colors on your resume at all. A family member recently sent me their resume for help with formatting because they weren’t getting any bites from job posting submissions. Upon opening, I immediately knew why. Their name at the top of the page in probably 48 font, was blue, and their address and contact info was green. Colors in a resume are so distracting. Let your skills and experience catch their eye, not colors. Additionally, avoid using graphics, emojis or other animations on your resume. If your recruiter or hiring manager wants a picture of you, they will ask, do not include one unless asked to.
Keep Relevant Experience and Ditch the Rest
If you are applying to be a software developer, a recruiter does not care if you had a paper route when you were 14. That kind of experience should be on your very last page at the very bottom, or removed completely. There is relevant experience and irrelevant experience. Let me break it down for you:
Relevant Experience (Keep It):
- Military service (No matter how long ago it was).
- Volunteer experience (Shows you are well rounded).
- Education, degrees, certificates, training.
- Awards and recognitions.
- Detailed responsibilities and descriptions of your current and past job roles.
Irrelevant Experience (Ditch it):
- Jobs when you were a kid.
- Items unrelated to the job you are applying for (Applying for IT job, puts down detailed info on bar tender job in college…just no!).
- Social media handles, URLs (Keep it private, social media can be damaging).
- Personal information (How many kids, wife’s name, favorite hobbies, descriptions of pets, social security number – I’ve seen it, that’s why I’m putting it here).
Get Your Resume Reviewed (And by More Than One Person)
The resume you present to a recruiter or hiring manager is your first and only first impression you get. You do not get a second chance at a first impression. People will judge you and your ability to fill their open positions based on what is on that little piece of paper. Make it count, get it reviewed by multiple people. Get your significant other or a family member to review your resume, they are invested in you and will want you to put your best on display. But also, always find someone to review your resume that does not know you personally. There are websites where you can upload your resume for review and edit tips.
Lastly, find someone you know in the career field you are trying to get into, or with the job you want, and have them review it for technical accuracy. By getting your resume reviewed you can ensure that you will present the best finished product to the pool of candidate resumes. If you follow these steps, you can be confident that your resume will stand out and rise to the top of the pile.