If you didn’t have time during the holidays to update your resume with recent achievements from the last 12 months because you were hanging out having cocktails at the Yale Club or sipping drinks at Campbell Apartment, I understand. But now that you’re back in the office, if you have time to do it (and you might be in the market for a new gig sometime soon) here are the key questions to ask yourself while adding to your resume to make sure it’s in top shape and ready to perform when you need it.
How does the format look?
Chances are your resume format would be considered “adequate,” meaning that it has formal names, dates, your titles, some bullets, and your contact information at the top to reach you. But how does it look? Does the format reflect a solid and aesthetically-pleasing work product? If you were your third grade teacher, what grade would she give the look of your resume? If it’s anything less than A, it’s time to re-do the margins and overall organization of your document to make it look professional. If you can’t do it or your friend can’t do it, hire a professional. You can’t get away with a mediocre resume when everyone else’s looks fantastic and polished.
Do you need to go into another page?
General rule of thumb for 99.9% of professionals in New York — if you have up to ten years of experience, 1 page should do it. If you have more than 10 years and have the substance in your background in terms of achievements and scope of work, you can freely go to two pages, but make sure you can fill at least 50% of the second page.
What message is delivered by your resume in less than 10 seconds?
Short attention spans are all the rage among recruiters and hiring managers. What is the key message that gets delivered by your profile? If someone looks at it and can immediately say something like “OK, this person is a top-performing salesperson who closed millions of dollars in business and is looking to enter the advertising industry” then you have a winning resume. If it can’t then the ten seconds spent looking at your resume will end up in a recruiter’s Windows Recycle Bin.
These all seem like pretty basic considerations for putting your resume together but hundreds of professionals just don’t seem to have the time or interest in doing it. The most competitive candidates take the time to create a stellar document — or they engage a professional to make sure the resume shines. Think about your commitment to your brand and what you need to do to “up your game.” I can assure you that the time invested will be well worth it.
Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.