There is no single, correct format for a resume. They can come in hundreds of different styles and formats, each fulfilling its purpose of introducing you to the potential employer (reviewer). Now is the time to polish up your resume.
It is therefore far easier to question the value of common inclusions in a resume. Expert advice is that a resume should be two or three pages (4 maximum). Within this restriction, are there elements included in your resume that waste valuable space?
I’m not suggesting the following aspects are right or wrong. But I encourage you to question whether valuable resume ‘real estate’ is being used effectively.
Inserting a ‘Career Objective’:
Ask yourself: what purpose does this have? Is the reviewer likely to see your resume in a better light by statements such as ‘I am a problem solver and innovator seeking to build a high performing team in a professional services firm’?
Not only are these self-assessments of questionable value, they can be a hindrance. The example I’ve quoted came on an application for a not-for-profit role, so was obviously unchanged from a prior application.
Listing your positions and achievements
Usually it is the recent experience (going back up to, say, 10 years) that is most relevant to the reviewer. I recall a resume covering a 30-year career that had every job listed. And for every role the job description was inserted. It was a 20-plus page monster, with varying font types and sizes. What impression does this create?
If a role was so long ago to be of limited value; or adds no credibility to the current application, do you need to show all the detail? Can your resume space be better utilised?
For the recent roles, headings such as ‘Key Responsibilities’ and ‘Key Achievements’ with 4 or 5 bullet points are ideal.
Unless you’re only a few years out of school or university, don’t worry about listing school information. My favourite is a resume from a 60-year old executive who listed as an achievement his being selected as a milk monitor in primary school.
Using a Skills-Based format:
Everyone wants to see a straight-forward chronological career history. Plain and simple. (With the current/most recent roles listed first.)
Presenting a resume or writing a novel?
Studies show that bullet point formats are more easily digested. Does your resume resemble a novel? Is it paragraph after paragraph of text?
Style and fonts:
Yes, a resume is a living, evolving document. However as you add sections you should ensure you stay consistent with formatting and fonts. Too often do we see resumes that mix and mash the font style and size.
This might sound trite but consider the font you select. A sans-serif font is seen as modern, whereas serif fonts (such as Times Roman) are seen as old-fashioned. What impression are you attempting to create?
‘References Available Upon Request’:
We always recommend reference details be omitted from resumes. However is this ‘Request’ statement necessary?
I agree that some employers want to learn more about a person than career and work. However is it necessary to list items such as ‘dining with friends’, ‘reading’ or ‘bushwalking’?
Your Email Address:
Two aspects here.
- Do you really think it best to use your work email address?
- Do you have a professional, personal email address? All recruiters will have a list of favourites. Top of my list is firstname.lastname@example.org who applied for a CFO role in not-for-profit. (No, there was no interview.)
The resume plays a vital role in your job search and therefore career progression. Take the time the question the value of the information you now display. Ideally have another person assist by reviewing it. Ask them to challenge you on why various elements are included.