Your 5 Most Urgent Resume Questions -- Answered
I’ve hired dozens of employees and reviewed literally thousands of applicants over my career. Let’s just say I’ve looked at a resume or two. Now, as the CEO of the professional networking site BrightCrowd, members often send me their resumes for an expert opinion.
Here are the 5 most common resume questions I answer on a regular basis. If you hit these five items when you redo your resume, you’ll set yourself apart.
How do I fit everything on a single page?!?!
When I get this question, I always know what the attachment will contain. A resume with .5” margins, 10pt text, and literally every job the person has ever worked since high school.
If this describes your CV, you’re in need of a heavy edit.
Recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds looking at each resume. You have literally that amount of time to convince them you’re worth talking to. Are they going to immediately understand that you’re the right candidate if they have to grab a magnifying glass and read a recap of your Illustrious career at the banana stand?
If you’ve already had a long career, you can trim your resume down to just the last 5 years of experience. Recent work history is going to be what’s most relevant.
If you’re just starting out, resist the temptation to include every club you joined in high school. Include only the most relevant items. Use the space you save to highlight your amazing accomplishments instead.
What do you think of this format?
Often when I get this question, I’m looking at a pretty plain, black and white text document. Sadly, incredible content doesn’t sing on its own.
A professionally formatted resume is an absolute must. Again, because recruiters work so fast, bold headlines and high color contrast can help draw their eyes to what’s most important – your most relevant work experience. And quite simply, good design exudes professionalism.
Luckily you don’t have to be a graphic designer – there are hundreds of free resume templates available online. Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and Pages all come equipped with templates that can fit your industry and your style. So pick one that speaks to you, and don’t be afraid of all that white space. (That’s good design!)
Avoid shrinking the fonts or getting tricky with the margins – by working within the template, you know you’ve got a solid design. Content that’s visually appealing will encourage recruiters to spend an extra second on you – that’s valuable time to get them hooked!
Should I include my job description for each role?
Definitely not. If you find yourself writing “Responsible for operating the cash register…” rethink your approach. For the most part, your duties should be implied by your title.
Instead, always think in terms of accomplishments. How did you go above and beyond? Did you establish a new training procedure? Increase efficiency by 5%? Improve sales? Specific statistics are great to have, but any projects that show you’re a go-getter are real resume gold.
Pro tip: Make sure you use active words (verbs)! Check out this list of great words to use to describe your accomplishments.
Do I need a summary?
Not necessarily. If you’ve got extra space to fill and want to add a personality-packed intro, go for it! A professional summary is also useful if your work history doesn’t tell an obvious story.
If you’re switching industries or are a recent graduate, for example, you may need to highlight how your volunteer work has led you to your new path, and how your other work experience supports your candidacy.
A good summary will be future-focused – what are you looking to accomplish in your next role? The rest of the resume will cover your accomplishments and other experience, no need to recap it in the summary.
How do I get my resume seen/trick the robots that search for keywords?!
In these days of easy apply, just getting your resume seen can be insanely competitive. It’s true that some organizations (like the federal government) use recruiting tools that scan resumes for the exact words included in the job description.
So you could definitely spend hours matching up keywords…but I don’t recommend it.
A far better approach is to make a personal connection to someone in the organization. Find them on BrightCrowd, and ask for an informational interview. If they meet you and like you, they’ll likely offer to pass your resume along. Never underestimate the power of a referral – more jobs are filled through referrals than online applications.
Good luck! And if you’ve got wonderful resume advice to share, make a post on BrightCrowd to, share what you know with your university network!