I have been around the business for a long time. Early on and being far less intelligent, something debated to this day I might add, I was quick to use the resume given to me by candidates to present them to my clients. I did little to nothing to change anything on the resume.
I have gotten smarter over the years. Resumes have become very fluid over the years. Candidates, in their infinite wisdom, have put together their resume as best they could with advice from every expert in the industry. Some are told that function resumes are the best, others the chronological is best. For each expert you ask advice from on resume writing you could almost bet on getting a different answer. It often would appear that the expert would suggest it be fluffed up here, dressed up there and made prettier to attract the right attention. Did anyone ever ask what the audience, the Hiring Manager, was looking to see? Not very often.
Now, many times, we do not know the Hiring Manager as well as we would like to. Seldom can we read their mind. We should know what they are looking for in a candidate though. That, in and of itself, still should give us a good idea of how the resume should look. As an introduction to a candidate, the resume being a marketing or sales tool, should be able to grab attention quickly, concisely and completely. After all, we do want the Hiring Manager to be drawn into and read the resume, do we not?
I will not get into all the philosophy of resume writing here, such as the OBJECTIVE, what it should say and how it should be said, etc, but I do want to address the KIS. I get resumes in all shapes, sizes and fashion. Many times they are not focused, have too much irrelevant information and say things they should not. They just do not look right for presentation and need working over, and in many cases, dramatic working over. Here are suggestions I give my candidates on the most common elements I see that need reworking to create the KIS resume:
ONE: Functional, chronological, functional, chronological, that is the question.
* there is no absolute right way here but you should have one or the other that is factual, informative and straight to the point.
* I prefer chronological because my experience is that more and more employers want to see where you worked, when you worked there (more and more want month and year), and what you did when you were there. Chronological does that and I have never had anyone object on a chronological resume. I have, however, had Hiring Managers request a functional resume be replaced with chronological resumes.
* I find that technical positions and technical Hiring Managers tend to prefer chronological resumes because they can be more fact based and to the point as many technical people are.
* if a candidate is going to use a functional resume I suggest using it for non-technical positions.
TWO: The application that the resume is written in is important in that most resume databases employers use today accept only word doc resumes and/or work easier with word docs.
* PDF, TEXT and others are generally not as user friendly as the old standby Word Doc, so, to me, KIS with a word doc resume.
* I suggest not using some of the formatted resume templates that are out there for writing resumes because they also can be problematic with some databases, simply type out the resume on a Word Doc.
* I would not expect someone in HR to try an reformat your resume to fit it into their database if need be, it likely will not happen and if it does, it will not be the first thing they do.
THREE: Put “ALL” contact information on the resume and not in a header or footer.
* many resumes are looked at on a computer and no one I know wants to go to print preview to see the contact information; if the resume is not presented in hard copy, this becomes an unfriendly step that does not win friends or influence people.
FOUR: Paragraph format versus bullets.
* scope of responsibility for each employment is what Hiring Managers look for, chronological resumes usually are or should be laid out this way.
* paragraph format is usually hard to read and the reader has to generally figure out what is being said and has to search for what they are looking for, not something they want to take time doing.
* I find that bullets make for a quick and easy read and believe you can never go wrong with a bullet format, particularly for a technical resume; so, I recommend bullets, direct and to the point, they get quick attention and the reader can quickly identify what it is they either are or are not looking for in a background.
FIVE: Pictures, personal information, fancy resume borders.
* although the picture may be pretty and personal information interesting, it is likely that it is not relevant and Hiring Managers really don’t care; they are mostly interested in what you can do for them.
* an exception could be a sales, marketing or some sort of position where a person would have to be in front of others to do business, however, it should not be a qualifier and I would not go there; you can not go wrong by not having picture or personal information on a resume.
* fancy resume borders can not address a candidates qualifications for a job and usually come across as unimpressive; would not do this.
There is more to the resume that gets the attention of the Hiring Manager than I have brought up here. If the resume is not an easy read and does not get attention early in the read, nothing else will probably matter. Aside from these tips I give candidates I always suggest they keep in mind their audience and what the position is they are applying for. The resume should speak to both and attempt to sell the Hiring Manager on setting up an interview. If they do not get to the interview they will not be getting anywhere.
I do not want to imply here that I let the resume do all the talking when I present a candidate to a client. That may work but I believe that is not the best first impression and I do want to make the best first impression I can for my candidate. I do an oral and written presentation of all my candidates. What I am suggesting though is that I help the candidate with suggestions on what constitutes a great resume for presentation and I put the responsibility of a quality resume for me to work with on the candidate. When I do not get a chance to do an oral presentation I find having a quality resume, with presentation, KIS’d as described above, gives me a much greater chance to move my candidate forward to an interview. When the candidate and I KIS with the resume we can more readily expect to KIS our way through to the interview.