Crafting a compelling resume is more critical than ever in today’s job market. Despite evolving formats, the primary goal remains: to secure an interview by effectively showcasing your professional persona and catching the reader’s eye quickly. According to a CareerBuilder survey, over one-third of HR Managers spend less than a minute reviewing a resume. Here’s how to make those seconds count.

Resume Length:

  • For less experienced professionals: Stick to a concise one-page resume.
  • For seasoned professionals: A two-page resume is appropriate, but remember, the focus is on the highlights of your experience and education, not your entire life story.

Content Evolution:

  • Recent Trends: According to LiveCareer resumes have grown in word count, now averaging 503 words in 2023 compared to 312 in 2018. Prioritize your recent and relevant professional experience. Detailed accounts of jobs from 20 years ago are less impactful.
  • Gaps in Employment: Address any significant employment gaps clearly to avoid raising red flags.
  • Job History Presentation: Ensure that multiple roles within the same company are presented clearly to avoid being seen as a job hopper.

What to Exclude:

  • High school graduation dates and very short-term jobs.
  • Unconventional job titles: Avoid terms like Digital Prophet, Guru, or Marketing Evangelist, which may confuse employers or ATS systems.

Key Resume Sections (in order):

  1. Contact Information: Include your home address, email, and cell phone number.
  2. Professional Summary: A concise overview of your professional background.
  3. Skills: Highlight relevant skills that show what you can do for the prospective employer.
  4. Work Experience: Detail company names, locations, job titles, and primary responsibilities. For frequent job changes, consider explaining the reasons.
  5. Education: List your educational background and any relevant certifications.

Tailoring Your Resume:

  • Multiple Skillsets: If you have diverse skills, create tailored resumes for different job applications, emphasizing relevant skills for each role.
  • Recent Experience: For those over 50, focus on the past 10 years of work experience as it is more relevant to employers.

Skills Section:

  • Hard Skills: Reflect the job requirements, e.g., design software and project skills for a Mechanical Design Engineer.
  • Soft Skills: Emphasize adaptability, communication, and problem-solving abilities. These can often be more valuable than technical skills alone.

Work Experience:

  • Concrete Examples: Use specific, measurable examples. Instead of “led a design team,” say “managed a team of 7 Design Engineers, leading to a 15% increase in sales within the first year.”
  • Three-Step Method: What you were tasked with, what you did, and the results.

Professional Development:

  • Continuous Learning: Showcase recent training, education, and certifications to demonstrate your commitment to professional growth.

Remote Work Experience:

  • Post-Covid Trends: Highlight any remote or hybrid work experience, showcasing your achievements and relevant soft skills like time management and self-discipline.

Formatting Tips:

  • Simplicity: Use a simple, consistent layout with a clear hierarchy.
  • Action Words: Use verbs like led, managed, developed, solved, analyzed, fixed, and identified.
  • Proofreading: Avoid spelling and grammar errors. Proofread thoroughly.
  • Consistency: Use the same font throughout, with 12-point type for content and 14 or 16-point for headers.
  • Skim ability: Ensure the document is easy to skim.

What to Avoid:

  • Passive Words: Using verbs like helped, supported, assisted, and participated.
  • Exaggeration or Falsehoods: Honesty is crucial; background checks can be thorough.
  • Non-Professional Details: Hobbies, interests, and unnecessary phrases like “References available upon request.”
  • Visual Clutter: Avoid photos, images, lines, and boxes that complicate the layout.

By following these guidelines, you’ll create a resume that effectively communicates your professional value and maximizes your chances of landing that coveted interview.

Best of luck, Mark!