Career Advice

5 Resume Secrets Revealed

If you seek out advice for writing the perfect resume, be warned: the blogosphere can be quite noisy.  There are as many opinions on this subject as there are stars in the sky. Some opinions come from those with a long-term careers-industry relationship, and some from those with little or no experience, but who feel dutiful in offering an opinion on everything.

This can make your quest quite difficult.

What’s a job seeker to do with this flurry of information—and misinformation—being thrown about? To WHOM should you be listening??

The short answer is: YOURSELF!

You shouldn’t be stunned by that answer. After all, who knows more about your career history and future goals than you do? These subjects are as unique as your own fingerprints, and the document you use to herald them should be every bit as personal.

Below, you will find a few of the resume writing topics that seem to create the most conflict. Following each topic are methods on deciding what suits you best.

1) Resume Length. The proper length of your resume has been a sorely contested subject for years: one page, two pages, three pages, etc.? The fact is, the resume should be as long or as short as you feel is necessary to tell your unique story. An interesting story is interesting regardless of its length. You would be hard-pressed to find a hiring manager who makes their decision based on the length of your resume. Common sense dictates that they will hire the person most qualified for the job. If you can prove your value on one page, that’s fine. If it takes three pages of compelling content to make your point, that’s also fine.  If you keep the reader interested, they will read the entire document.

2) Who Should Tell Your Story? The decision to hire a professional writer or write the resume yourself depends on your own personal comfort level in telling your story.  Some highly educated individuals, though, brilliant producers in their chosen field, possess only a cursory knowledge of how to use the written word to their advantage. Others may have a natural ability to communicate using this medium. Each individual should be honest with himself about the proficiency they possess and make a decision based on this alone.

3) How Much Work History Should Your Resume Include? If you want to start a riot, simply suggest your desire to go back more than ten years in your job history. Many evil eyes have been exchanged on this subject. You need to decide if information from 10 or 20 or 30 years ago is important to the position you are currently seeking. If it is, include it. If not, don’t. It really is just that simple.

4) Resume Design. The layout of your resume is another source of contention that really needn’t be.  Your decision to use or not to use color, charts, graphs or any number of other design elements should never be held to someone else’s hard-and-fast rules on the subject. Determine your rules by answering the following: a) Do these design elements add to or take away from the story? B) Will your audience be compelled or repelled by their use?

5) Paragraphs or Bullets? The “paragraph versus bullet point” controversy continues to wreak havoc on the careers industry. The “bullet point” faction holds up scannability as its war cry; while the “paragraph” crowd insists this is the only way to victory because of its storytelling feel. In the end, you must decide which of these formats does the best job of relaying your talents in a way that resonates with the reader. Often, a combination of the two strategies works well.

Many well-intentioned resume advisors reside on- and offline. Ultimately, this is your story to tell and your audience to compel. Read and listen to the advice being offered. Use what works for you, and leave the rest in the blogosphere for those who come behind you.