Tips for Resume Preparation

Posted by Larry Brantley on December 08, 2008

After screening candidates for over twenty years, I have a resume format that I recommend to my candidates that is clear, concise, and easy to follow.

First, a resume should be no longer than 2 pages, not including reference information. Resumes that are in excess of 2 pages, tend to give more information than required. Keep in mind, the purpose of a resume’ is to get a meeting, not to completely tell the viewer everything you have ever done.

The look of the resume is very important. It should be in a easy to read typeface that is universal for all readers. Extremely decorative fonts may be nice for the viewer, but difficult to read for the potential client. The format of the document should be suitable for copying or faxing. Avoid screens of color or ink, they don’t reproduce well and the viewer will not be able to see all of your work. Use at least 12 point type on all of the body copy. Headings should be bold and slightly larger for emphasis.

Here are the elements I look for in a good resume’: An Objective statement, Hardware/Software skills, Educational background, Work History, Awards & Honors, and References.

Objective
An objective statement should communicate to the viewer your intent for your next career move. Sometimes objectives are listed in a cover letter. This can be okay, but quite often a cover letter may become separated from the main document and the resume’ can be misconstrued. Usually a couple of sentences are enough. It should be direct enough to make your vision clear, but not so detailed as to the specifics of company, one goal position desired, or give any impression of inflexibility.

Hardware/Software
Everyone should list the types of computer systems they are familiar with as well as the specific software they have “hands-on” experience. The ideal list will be sorted from expert to least experience.

Educational Background
A complete listing of your professional training is essential. It is not necessary to list the actual year of completion, but it is critical to list the field of accomplishment or training. Continuing education is good if it is pertinent to your individual career path.

Work History
The work history is probably the most important area. The job history should be from current job back to previous jobs. There should be no gaps in the history. If you have freelanced in between positions, you should show that work history from the date it began to current. If a job lasted for 6 months or less it is not wise to list it. I would show the time as a contractual period for simplicity. Some people will truncate or shorten their work history to the last 10 years. I prefer to see all work history. You can keep the details brief, but it can be very misleading in an initial assessment if you do not include the complete picture. You may be considered for a more junior position due to an assumption formed by your resume’. Some people are concerned about being discriminated against due to their age. I personally see it as an asset, not a liability. I do find it deceptive if a candidate neglects to incorporate a large portion of their career in an attempt to compete with a younger crowd. The listings should show start date and completion date. Avoid listing every position change or promotion within a company, by the date it happened. It can lengthen the resume’ and it is excessive. Tell me about your rise to prominence in brief detail. You should list the position titles, but show the entire company history. In some cases it is important to list the reason for departure. This information, however, is usually addressed in a face-to-face interview.

Awards & Honors
Achievements are important to list. Keep in mind they are irrelevant if they do not apply to your career path.

References
It is okay to provide references as an attachment or at the time of an interview.

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