On Résumés

Make your résumé stand out

Disclaimer: I am far from a résumé expert; these are just some guidelines that I believe in.

Single Page

Résumés on more than one page is a big pet peeve of mine. More than one page speaks of wastefulness and verbosity. There are people that are more famous on Wikipedia that if printed out will be on a single page. Now if Wikipedia can describe their life in one page, I’m sure the rest of us can too.

It doesn’t matter if the résumés are printed or digital. Printed implies a staple and don’t think I’ll be inclined to flip the page. Same thing goes for digital; I won’t be inclined to scroll. A single page speaks volumes about the writer who had to carefully deliberate every line to determine if it makes the cut. Everything that makes the cut must be significant to the writer. Each line can then be elaborated lucidly at length in a face-to-face interview.

This may mean some major compression for long résumés. Here is a tip. Jobs that weren’t long-term, challenging, or prestigious may need to be relegated to a single line.

    Job - Date - 1 line description

This tells the person looking over it that the résumé is complete, but to not spend too much time dwelling on that line. I know it might be hard to compress a time of your life to a single line, but I would rather have a single line and be able to talk about it for five minutes, than to have five lines and only have a sentence or two in expansion.

Names

Names are important. Your name is the most important name. If I only look at your résumé for 100ms, the first thing I should be drawn to and the only thing I should remember is your name. The next most prevalent aspect of the résumé should be the names of previous employers and institutions of learning. This serves to catch the reviewer’s eye and to impress them or create a personal connection. They may have friends that work at a previous employers of yours or graduated from the same institution. The hope is to play off the reviewer’s affiliations. This may seem arbitrary, but I know employers who have hired people purely on the college they have graduated from or the companies they worked at. Fair? Maybe not, but I’m not the one controlling the rules.

Aesthetics

This may be just me, but I believe that a splash of color and high quality paper goes a long way. The purpose is to stand out when someone is rifling through résumés. A résumé with color on sturdy paper will look and feel different. However, be careful and don’t overdo it. Be subtle. In a résumé, a combination of conformity and originality will go the furthest.

Practical Typography

An expert in typography voiced his opinion on résumés.

The biggest problem I see with résumés is that they're uncomfortably dense with text.

(Butterick, 2012)

I would like to disagree. I believe that a résumé dense with text is fine as long as the headings are prevalent and sections are discernible. In fact, I find dense text preferable to a résumé with more than one page. Dense text may be the only way to make a résumé fit on one page, and that is how it should be done.

Maybe the author is getting dense and verbose confused. It is in my opinion that having more than one page promotes verbosity. What’s worse is that if a résumé is only used for prepending experiences. Old experiences won’t be pruned from the ever increasing size of the résumé. Programming has taught me well that the more code there is to handle the more likely there is to be dead code, code that isn’t referenced anywhere, and no one can explain it. By not having a thorough check for every possible addition to a résumé, one runs the risk of there being an experience, which has faded from memory. I have seen people boast that they have optimized such and such and how it made a huge difference to their company, but when asked what they did to achieve that optimization, they become lost for words. I don’t doubt that it happened, but if they can’t recall the solution, even at a high level, then it should have never been on a résumé. In short, this should never happen, and will never happen if you keep your résumé to a single page.

Conclusion

Keep your résumé to a single page that contains only significant experiences.

References

  1. Butterick, M. (2012). Practical Typography - Resumes. Retrieved from http://practicaltypography.com/resumes.html

Comments: