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7 Tips For a Better Resume

Someone just asked me for some advice about their resume. After writing it up I figured you all might find some value from it as well. Here are 7 tips I’ve picked up after years and years of writing and reviewing resumes.

1. Sell Yourself Above the Fold

Above the fold is a newspaper term for the stories that appeared above the fold on the first page. These were the attention grabbing headlines that would entice folks to buy the paper. The first 1/3 to 1/2 of the page includes the executive summary of who you are and a clear list of skills. As a hiring manager this is my first impression of you. Everything else is just backing up what’s stated here. I generally like the format described in this link.

2. A Clear Summary

You should open with a short three sentence summary that will get passed around to everyone stating who you are and why you’re a good fit for the role. Keep it clear considering and easy to read. This shouldn’t be a novel about your career.

3. Not Every Technology

List out the skills you want folks to trigger on. Honestly I don’t care if you know Solaris and xml. You’re senior enough I get that you’ve hit the details under the areas. I just need to know what the major areas are, java .net mobile etc and what major focuses in those. The best ones I’ve seen were grouped into three categories: Technical abilities, People competencies and Process skills

4. Not What You Did, What You Accomplished

In the experience section don’t tell me what you did, tell me what you accomplished. Use numbers and quantifiable stats where possible. Instead of, “I worked on X technology” write something like, “I increased throughout by 20% by using X technology to achieve Y request per second”. At a minimum if you don’t have numbers still say what value you provided. For example “I increased the through out by using X technology” is in the right direction

5. Not So Dense, Use Whitespace

I’m old. Densely packed words are hard to read and give me a headache. Don’t try to cram in every story, word and technology. Remove/consolidate and get some white space in there.

6. You’re Experienced I Get It

Lead with length of years experience. Since you’ve been doing this for awhile that will signal to me that there’s more depth than what’s listed. I realize you can’t fit everything in there and thats OK. I don’t need to see every detail about technology domain areas, but rather a sampling of the areas with callouts about interesting or key aspects. Once I know your experience and areas of focus I’m going to look for things that flag if that’s actually true or not. For example working somewhere for 4 months but listing 30 technologies tells me you’re just writing down what the shop used and not what you worked on. Use of the word “we” also signals other people were doing the work. This is the one place you’re supposed to talk about what you did. In the office be a team player and say “we”. In your resume (and interviews) say “I” and focus on what YOU accomplished.

7. Save The Life Story

If you have more than 10 years experience summarize the rest. Anything from that far back you’ve probably forgotten or is irrelevant today. Personally when reviewing resumes I focus mostly on the details of last 5 years. So have an experience section with about 10 years of details broken out. For those jobs beyond that just add an “other experience” section and just list the company, title and dates of employment.

Hope that helps and best of luck in your searches.