A few years ago I went through a box of college papers and found my first “official” resume. It only took 30 seconds to read since there wasn’t much to it. But it did remind me of something my dad says, K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid!
Resumes to most can be painful and never-ending. Whether it’s proofreading, checking to make the layout looks good, editing each bullet or making sure everything is in the correct tense, it can seem like it will never be quite “right.”
But as in art, there is a saying that is quite fitting for a resume and it begins with the question, “how do you know when it's done?” The answer is when you don’t have to explain it. It may sound trite and maybe a bit contrary to what the job of the resume is, but in reality, it’s clear what a resume should be.
The first goal of resumé is to pass the trash can test… don’t get thrown away! Once you’re past that hurdle, it’s on to the first pass.
Imagine meeting a potential employer and explaining who you are and your accomplishments in one to two minutes. That is your resume’s job. You never know who will be the first to read your resume once it is received. They may take a quick glance or read it word for word. In reality, most resumes average 30 seconds for the first review. At the end of that process, the reader is wondering who is this person and why are they qualified for this role. So the test of when a resume is done is that you don’t have to explain it.
Here are a 5 pointers to make sure your resume is “done:”
- Name, rank and contact info. Type your name clearly. If you’d prefer a nickname or a shortened version of your name like Sam instead of Samuel, display it that way. Also be very clear about how you’d like to be contacted including phone, email or mailing address.
- Make sure you keep it to the point. Sometimes we want to elaborate on every job we’ve ever had to make sure the reader knows specific details of our duties, point by point. Emptying the trash is not something to add to your resume unless you’re a professional custodian and want to elaborate.
- How long is too long? Usually, three to five bullets are enough to describe your duties and give specific details regarding your contribution to the company. If it’s in the present, keep it present tense, if it’s in the past, past-tense is the way to reference duties. If you are a bit more seasoned, it’s okay to have two to three pages for your resume if needed. But you don’t have to list the positions you had in college if you’ve been out of school for more than two years, unless relevant to the role to which you’re applying.
- GPA is nothing but a number. If you graduated this year, showing your GPA is appropriate, otherwise, leave it off. The name of the school you attended, your basic degree and year of graduation is perfect. If you graduated with honors you can add that along with your major.
- Personal Branding. Unless you’re an artist, using color, photos, logos, and other art is a better left to the professionals. If you have to jazz it up to look more professional, that’s a red flag.
- Finally. Don’t sell yourself short on your experience, but if the reader wants to know more, they’ll ask. Enticing the employer with enough detail to know who you are and what you can do is the best introduction. K.I.S.S. it, have at least three people read it, and send it off!