Skip to main content

Frankenoid just posted a diary with some good resume tips ( Here are some very general thoughts about resumes, based upon 10 years of big corporate HR experience, 15 years consulting, and acting as partner in an executive search firm:

  1. Label a resume file firstname lastname resume.doc. You may have 10 different versions of your resume, but the swamped recruiter only cares about the one you send. Your name and "resume" will help them find it if they are disorganized but remember your name.
  1. Choose one readable font (at least 10 point). There are few things worse than having to acknowledge that you can't read the fine print without glasses.


  1. Instead of an "objective" write a "summary" of no more than 3 lines.  

Objectives are focused, which is good, but may not be a match for the job (recruiter says, "wow, this person is great - too bad their objective doesn't quite fit our job."), may be just one of many objectives that you'd be comfortable with (if you've sent your resume into two different jobs with different objectives, doesn't that say you are actually flexible about your objective?) and may not be appropriate given your experience ("my objective is to be CEO of GE. I have my AA degree and one year of experience (manager at Subway)).

The "Summary" statement should be distinctive, reflecting your uniqueness, and realistic enough that you can relate a few true stories that support your summary claims.  Think about special accomplishments (achievements that made you feel really good), or times when others thanked you for doing a good job. What did you do that was surprising or unexpected or "above and beyond"? Do you have competing qualities that can be expressed in combination ("organized rule-breaker", "detail-oriented big-picture thinker", "thinking conservative"). Such phrases might help the recruiter remember you - if they are both clever and accurate.

The keys to a successful summary statement are: short (3 lines), distinctive/memorable, and true.

  1. Use a standard format. Recruiters have trouble with unusual formats when they have hundreds of resumes to review. If you make it harder for them, it may just fall out of the "possible" pile. Stick to a chronological or functional resume if you can - other formats are a last resort. Elements include: Contact information block, summary, experience, education, (optional - community involvement).
  1. Remember that your resume is there to sell you. It is not a comprehensive life or employment history. It should tell specific stories about things you did to help your employer (or meet your own goals). Interviewers trained in "behavioral interviewing" will want to know what the situation was, how you responded (action) and what was the result. Using this framework (Situation, Action, Result) for writing about your key accomplishments will help prepare you for an interview - and will also be a very powerful way to present your contributions to a recruiter. It shows that you are speaking based on real experiences, and that you care about results. Both things are appealing to recruiters, and will help make you memorable.

When you stay away from generalities and descriptions of duties, your resume will be more believable. Compare these statements: "did payroll data entry," and "improved employee morale by reducing payroll errors through rapid and error-free data entry." They tell different things about the writer. In the latter case, I'd think the writer knew that data entry was important - it was tied to business success in a tangible way. In contrast, the former description shows a lack of interest and commitment to the bigger goals. Who would you rather hire?

  1. The resume is a sample of your behavior - just like an interview. It is filled with "non-verbal" information. Format, grammatical errors, spelling, the way you describe situations and jobs. All says something about who you are. You can shape that by choosing to look at the bigger picture of who you are and what you did. Writing a resume can be really fulfilling when you take the time to think about the bigger meaning of who you are and what your work contributed.
  1. Your resume is important - fix all the formatting, grammatical and spelling errors. Rewrite your duties in the context of Situation, Action and Results. Have someone who loves you read it. Don't sell yourself short in the summary. But don't labor over it excessively. To get a job, you need to network, network, network.

UPDATE:  Good comments below. What is "standard" does vary by industry, level of job and expected experience. No-one expects a senior executive or even a middle manager to have a one page resume. It's not always true that "shorter is better." Using Linkedin and other networking sites is another demonstration of one's competence....

Originally posted to hrned on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:35 PM PST.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  A couple of notes (5+ / 0-)
    1.  "Use a standard format." -- This may differ from industry to industry.  I worked in a creative industry for a while, and we saw all sorts of stuff for résumés, the more eccentric and creative the better.  And for some industries like applying to a big law firm, community involvement can be a very important distinguishing section.
    1.  This might have been discussed in the other diary, but for anyone not just starting out (say first five years of a career), the one-page rule isn't really that important any more, is it?  I still target one page as a tool to keep myself from getting carried away, but there's no way I could accurately represent my career(s) with less than about a page and a half now.  

    Someone is wrong on the Internet! To the Kosmobile!

    by socratic on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:43:35 PM PST

    •  One page please..... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oslo, ebbinflo, awcomeon

      I have to wade through these things.

      Being succinct is a virtue many hiring managers look for. The details come out in the interview.

      "I would like to see less people go to church on Sunday and more people volunteering among the poor and hopeless"

      by comeinpbrstreetgang on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:48:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Depends on where someone is ... (4+ / 0-)

        in his or her career.  It's just not structurally possible to present even a superficial view of my career on one page.  It could be different in a professional or high-level technical job, I suppose.  But, in principle, I agree that 1 page is a goal to shoot for, and is mandatory for people without a lot of history.

        Someone is wrong on the Internet! To the Kosmobile!

        by socratic on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:51:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have over 30 years in the business (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          socratic, ebbinflo, marykk, awcomeon

          ...and I try to keep it to one page for the initial submission, mostly by stopping my job descriptions after going back for more than 5 years or so.

          My rationale:  in addition to being more readable, another section of that one page contains information that will allow the recruiter, if they are so inclined, to find out how long I've been in the business.  And, at least in the technical domain, experience older than that is not likely relevant to the current market needs.

          Finally, given that I am easily findable by name in the online professional community websites (e.g., LinkedIn), if the recruiter wants to find out more, they can find the whole story there.

          I will admit that it's not easy, and I probably have lost opportunities as a result of lazy recruiters not bothering to look into my background past that one page (and that in some cases, more than one page is appropriate--rules are made to be broken, we know), but it's worked well with me so far, both for finding jobs and as a recruiter for engineering talent myself.

          "Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win." Lazurus Long

          by rfall on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:58:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Just as a contrasting viewpoint (5+ / 0-)

            I'm a lawyer in a technical field (now, at least).  There really is no expiration date for experience regarding major transactions worked on, familiarity with this or that type of work, etc.  Additionally, given that there are relatively few lawyers who have a strong technical background, it's helpful to point that background out, even if some of the specific skills would be outdated today, as it's more about selling the fact that you know the jargon and the mindset of the industry.

            I'm not in the market for a job now, but I've been told that in a professional context, multiple pages are fine, as long as it's multiple pages of actual experience and not résumé-filler.

            Someone is wrong on the Internet! To the Kosmobile!

            by socratic on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:04:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not sure I can agree or disagree (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              socratic, awcomeon

     sue me (;-), but I do understand what you're saying--my spouse is a lawyer, and put together a new resume about a year ago, after 20+ years in the business.

              No hard and fast rules--and I agree that multiple pages are less likely to hurt if they're substantive--but if all things are equal, shorter is better, at least in my line of work.

              Thanks for the alternate viewpoint, though--keeps my visions of godhood in check.... ;-)

              "Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win." Lazurus Long

              by rfall on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:14:54 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I agree totally that shorter is better (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                oslo, awcomeon

                just to make that clear. :)  If I'm looking at a resume that's 1 page and a little bit, I'll encourage the person to trim something, make the rest more interesting if possible, and then bring up whatever was cut in the interview.  

                Someone is wrong on the Internet! To the Kosmobile!

                by socratic on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:17:56 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  One key suggestion (5+ / 0-)

    Keep racial and gender information off a resume. Also do not mention fraternity or sorority membership unless you held a leadership position. Both types of information can create problems because of biases.

    •  And, I don't recommend photos or other (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...information, as oceanstar17 says, that will allow the recruiter to guess at any information no relevant to the job--age, ethnicity, etc.

      It's not that people are purposefully ageist, racist, etc. in most cases, but we all have unconscious biases, and it's bet not to bring those into play.

      "Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win." Lazurus Long

      by rfall on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:00:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually the University of Chicago did (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marykk, awcomeon, rfall

        a study with resumes. They created two identical candidates with the "perfect resume". One had a name that sounded "White" and another one with a name that sounded "Black". Firms invited the "white" applicant more often than not for interviews.

        •  And, this means that gender bias (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...will likely continue (I still see it in the tech sector, even today) as one can usually tell the gender of the candidate from the name and/or other clues.

          Makes one wonder if the way some headhunters handle submitting resumes to companies--leaving off ALL identifiable information and substituting IDs, etc.--isn't such a bad thing.

          "Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win." Lazurus Long

          by rfall on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:11:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Also keep off (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, awcomeon
      religious information off a resume unless you had a leadership role or a scholarship from such a group.
  •  Two other suggestions (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oslo, ebbinflo

    ...which comes from years of being on both sides of the hiring table:

    • Keep the entire resume fairly short--one page if you can do it, but no more than two.  The hiring manager doesn't need to know your life history, just enough to decide to move you to the "must interview" pile.
    • Avoid the "keyword bingo" approach--at least in the technical realm, nothing says "next!" to me faster than someone who has put together a resume with nothing more substantive than a list of keywords, with no detail.  This may be advice that some disagree with--some companies use automated system which rank based on keyword match to the job description, but most desirable companies, IMO, are not interested in lists like "Pascal, Basic, Fortran", etc.

    Any else agree?

    "Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win." Lazurus Long

    by rfall on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:47:40 PM PST

    •  given that I've written code for (0+ / 0-)

      well over a dozen different processor architectures, in at least as many languages plus assembler, on half a dozen operating systems and no OS at all, trying to keep to one page and not do "keyword bingo" gets difficult.

  •  you should post a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OLinda, oslo, marykk

    tip jar and I know I'm bookmarking all these diaries in case I lose my job...  Might as well gather some earned mojo while here... peace to you and thanks for tips..

    "Thank you, Your Holiness. Awesome speech." April 16, 2008, at a ceremony welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to the White House. ---George Bush

    by ebbinflo on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:56:03 PM PST

  •  What you describe as summary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oslo, turn Virginia blue

    I put all that in the cover letter.  One more thing use Ariel font. A lot of places now scan resumes and so you have to use the one comes out the cleanest. This font is one of them.

    "Liberals are never so happy as when they are unhappy."--LBJ

    by Micheline on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:07:55 PM PST

  •  What if you haven't had a job for over 21 years? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wondering if, tammanycall

    And the three you held previous to that have all gone out of business?  I went to college part time while raising my sons.  I got my BA two years ago.  I've applied for 53 positions.  Only ONE actually landed an interview.

    The interview went quite well as they had me interview with the top boss immediately after my first interview.  They seemed pretty sure they were going to hire me.  It didn't happen.  I sent a respectful email requesting my status, and I got no response.  This is an e-commerce company, and they don't provide phone numbers -- only email.

    Obama's main opponent in this election on November 4 isn't McCain. It's ignorance. -Michael Moore

    by RoseZ on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:33:23 PM PST

    •  Keep at it (0+ / 0-)

      Congrats on getting your BA while raising your sons. That's quite an accomplishment. I hope there are aspects to being a part-time student/full-time mom show up on your resume ("juggled multiple areas of responsibility...") Don't think your resume will get you a job - no matter how much experience you have. Talk to everybody about your job search - your friends, family, hairdresser, kids, fellow bloggers. Read What Color is My Parachute? about how to find a job. Go back to your college and see if their career assistance department can help. Unless you get lucky and find the right spot immediately, getting a job is a numbers game. One interview doesn't cut it - you need many more.

      Lastly, it's too bad the company you interviewed at didn't give you more feedback, but it is not unusual. Just get going on the next one.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site