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3 Questions Your Résumé Must Address

3 Questions Your Résumé Must Address

From Career Tips, 2012 Volume 8, August 2012


Raised Hands

Last month I wrote about some issues that prevent such a large portion of job seekers from creating truly powerful résumés. If you missed that issue, you can catch up here.


Now I want you to put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager reading your résumé. Get into that hiring manager's head and imagine what you absolutely have to address to get his or her attention.


Let me tell you the answer from my perspective, having been a hiring manager recruiting, interviewing, hiring and building up a department from scratch over 13 years. I believe there are 3 fundamental questions your résumé MUST answer to grab my attention and demonstrate that you are the candidate I want to interview.


Here's the first question:

Does it present a strong, professional appearance?


I'm shocked at what a high percentage of supposed 'sales documents' are sloppy, or hard to read, or have tons of stuff crammed on the page, etc.


That's one reason why it's so important to make sure there are no spelling mistakes. I can forgive a grammar error much more easily, but not spelling. After all, with any decent word processing program, you only have to look at the screen to see such mistakes. If you either weren't capable of that, or weren't willing to make the effort to check, what does that tell me about your attention to detail in your work?


Having a professional image doesn't mean you need to have intricate graphics or the latest exciting font type, or to print on fancy, glossy paper. It just means your document has to look professional, and like it was put together by someone who cares about the quality of his or her work.


You and I both understand that this is a critical document in your search, in effect, your sales brochure. This (with your cover letter) is the first work product of yours I am going to see. You had the time and opportunity to make this as strong a product as you wanted to. If you chose not to do that, or don't even recognize that it doesn't look professional, then what quality can I expect of your 'regular' work products?


Some pointers to make sure you present a professional product:

  • Make sure all bullet points, paragraphs, dates, etc. line up perfectly.
  • Avoid multiple levels of indentation.
  • Pick a style and stick to it throughout the document.
  • Check the spelling and grammar very carefully - and have someone else read it after you think you've caught everything.
  • Don't use narrow margins - I recommend no less that 1 inch top / bottom / left / right.
  • Don't use overly wide margins that make it look like you're just trying to fill up the page - here I recommend no more than 1 ½ inches.
  • Don't use a font less than 10 points anywhere on your résumé.
  • Also avoid too big a font on any text-heavy portions - anything more than 12 points can start to look like shouting.
  • Don't include an 'Objective' statement. That creates an impression that you are more concerned about yourself, than about what you can do for me.


Oh, and make sure to look at the 'document properties' before you send it out, especially if you either started from someone else's draft, or had someone's help along the line - you don't want a different name showing up there! And if you ever used 'track changes' during editing, be sure to accept or reject all changes and comments, turn 'track changes' off, and then re-save the document afterwards. Otherwise the reader can access your editing history.


And be sure to send it out with a descriptive name that will make it easily identifiable if it gets saved independent of any email to which it was attached - something like "John Doe Resume".


Next time I'll get into the 2nd question your résumé must address to get the hiring manager's attention.


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