While I write resumes for a living, I realize (and prefer) that it isn’t “my way or the highway.” How bland of a career marketing world would it be if every resume was written by some formulaic approach?
Unfortunately, though, myriad people seem to want to legislate resume writing into a tiny pigeonhole.
As well, many social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google Plus) conversations center on Do’s and Don’ts for resume writing, as if there really were such finite rules. While best practices exist, and I do recommend that people ‘resist the urge to send your resume over the top,’ I find it disconcerting — aggravating, really — when experts get all bound up in tactical aspects of the resume design and content of such a critically creative career story.
Does Size Really Matter?
When you think of a good story, whether it be a short story, a novel or a full-length movie, you don’t get all wound up in rules. For example, some novels are fewer than 200 pages long; others, more than 1,000 pages. Depending upon the ‘story’ and the reader, either length works. War and Peace was 1,440 pages, for example. Each of the 587,000 words contributed to build needed momentum and create rich context. They were necessary to feed the reader.
Will Graphics Send Your Resume Straight to the Trash Bin?
As well, illustrations such as a financial chart showing year-over-year climbing sales and profits or a table exemplifying business building, customer service improvement or productivity enhancement initiatives at various companies within which you have worked can add oomph and interest to an otherwise black/white presentation. Moreover, splashes of dark blue, or red or green or even orange can paint a more vivid picture of your career value.
Are You Gripped By Fear of Rejection?
What grips most folks who stare resume rules straight in the face is ‘fear’ that they will get rejected if they don’t follow a formula. They are paralyzed by stories of rigid applicant tracking systems and recruiters who will remove their resume from the toppling pile if they don’t cross a “t” perfectly or if they extend the resume five sentences beyond a certain length.
The thing is, many of the formula espousers are simply people with the largest megaphones and/or audiences; they don’t necessarily represent the majority of how people looking at resumes think and feel. In fact, job candidates who cater to such fears, in my experience, actually lessen the resume impact and reduce the number of interview opportunities – feeding their fears actually can make the worst-case fears come true.
Quit Catering “Just” To Recruiters.
While recruiters may, as a rule of thumb, prefer a plainer, bulleted and shorter (i.e., no more than 2 pages) resume format and approach, you mustn’t forget that recruiters are not the only people with whom you should circulate your resume. In fact, some statistics declare that recruiters account for (much) less than 1% of all hiring. If you will heavily be targeting recruiters in your search, then strip down your beefier and more colorful resume to fit their needs, constructing a second version just for them. Often, this is a matter of trimming and taming your more robust message. Call that your ‘recruiter resume.’
Beyond the Self-Imposed Boundaries.
Then, take your story-board resume beyond corporate databases and recruiters and netweave it into the hands of someone else – a hiring decision maker, an influencer, a friend of a hiring decision maker, a supervisor, a business owner, the president of the company, the marketing vice president–you get what I’m saying!
Ultimately, the Best Resumes are Focused and Compelling.
They grab the reader and resonate with the hiring company’s needs. Often, a meatier resume, with its contextual story detail, can serve to more effectively transport the candidate (and the people reading his story) through the job search and interviewing process that often consists of multiple telephone, Skype and in-person interviews. A storied resume becomes a verifiable value-add in the process. It also can make the difference in keeping the candidate on the short-list versus being sacked.
So, Stop Getting Hung Up by Popular, Regulating Articles and Social Media Threads.
They center on rules of resume length and whether to use bullets or paragraphs, whether to use a dollop of color or whether to curtail that compelling chart.
Instead, Relax a Bit, and Think: Marketing and Sales.
Many people who review resumes don’t know what they don’t know. In other words, court them with convincing content and a creative look that garners their attention, and you might be surprised how your responses multiply and your next job offer sails into your virtual mailbox!