|Tips for a successful resume
By James Robert Watson, PhD
Your resume, a brief summary of your background and experiences, is often the first contact a potential employer has with you. It must make you look great and set you apart from the other candidates.
The purpose of a resume is to help you get an interview that will enable you to show your work in person. Hiring decisions are first influenced by the impression your resume makes. The purpose of the keeper (or leave-behind) is to remind and impress. This may require something beyond the traditional letter, resume, and portfolio. During the job search ordeal, there is an advantage to keeping your name in the mind of a prospective employer or client.
Make a master list of all information pertinent to your background. Keep that list as the master that you will add to for the rest of your career. From that list determine which items are the most impressive to include on your current resume. Design your resume to be impressive. The image conveyed speaks about your talent as a designer. For a keeper, create an object or printed piece that can be hand delivered or mailed to interviewers or client prospects. There are 3 major types of keepers: a gimmicky clever self-promotion piece, samples of your work, and an enhanced resume. If it is a sample of your work, it should match the style and layout of your other materials. Create something that will make you and your work stand out and be remembered over the work of the other applicants.
• Must be impressive.
• Allow easy scanning of info.
• No rules nor set formats.
• Consistent layout, headings, and order of info.
• Info: appropriate, precise, and in reverse chronological order.
• Grammar and spelling: flawless, parallel, action verbs.
Content (not necessarily in this order)
• Personal: state address and phone only.
• Education: schools, degrees and dates, course of study, some courses and workshops.
• Experience: skills, work, internships, summer jobs.
• Awards and honors.
• Memberships/organizations: design oriented, offices held.
• Optionals: temporary address, personal interests if they relate directly to the job, languages spoken fluently.
• Do not include 'Objective'. If you applied, its already obvious you want that job.
• Do not include current business contact info.
• Do not state 'Phone' in front of phone number or 'email' - its obvious.
• Do not include references or 'References furnished upon request' - of course they can be, its a silly outdated line. Take a list with you to the interview.
Design and layout
According to research, recruiters spend an average of "six seconds before they make the initial 'fit or no fit' decision" on candidates. They will look at your name, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education.
With such critical time constraints, you should make it easier for recruiters to find pertinent information by creating a resume with a clear visual hierarchy and don't include distracting visuals since "such visual elements reduced recruiters' analytical capability and hampered decision-making" and kept them from "locating the most relevant information, like skills and experience."
• Convey creativity, strong design sense, positive image.
• Consistent style and format.
• Highlight key headings or words for easy scanning.
• Probably 8.5x11, one side.
• Typeset or laser printed.
• Good quality paper.
• Perfect reproduction.
• Serves as letter of application.
• Address it to an individual.
• Brief, specific and appropriate for company and position.
• Send follow-up thank-you letters ASAP to promising interviews.
Everybody makes mistakes, even employers. But making one minor mistake on a resume or in a cover letter is unacceptable. The interviewer likely thinks, "How do I know this person will proofread the letters he writes to shareholders? What if he someday leaves a zero or two off one of our financial statements? I better put this resume aside and look for someone who's more accurate and thorough."
A thank-you note? You're kidding, right? Do people even do that sort of thing anymore? The interviewer likely thinks, "This person has no follow-up skills, not to mention common courtesy. He could have at least dropped me a quick email note, like this other person did."