Posts Tagged ‘entry-level’

How Long Is Too Long for a Resume?

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

The age-old question, that afflicts new college graduates, senior executives, and foreign applicants alike: how long should my resume be?

The dynamics of the question have changed significantly in the last few years, as online application and electronic resumes have become the norm.

The problem with the question is that it’s not framed properly. For people who prefer certainty, the real answer is disappointing: it depends.

In some cases, a long resume will do you no favors but in other cases, being too brief will cripple your chances.

Let’s look at some times when it pays to be brief:

long resume

  • Online Applications: When you’re submitting your resume to a company website or online job board (which is generally not the best way of approaching a company or job, though probably the most frequent), it pays to know your audience: the machine. ATS machines are fickle, easily confused entities, so it pays to keep format and length to standard when dealing with them, lest they spit you out with asterisks and hissing.

    And since your resume, in this case, will be stacked on top of myriad others being submitted via the same portal, getting your foot in the door would be better served by being brief, concise, and neat.

  • Human Resources: The bane of the modern corporate world (unfairly, to some extent), the HR professionals set to watch the outer walls of each corporate citadel are frequently overworked and tasked with sorting through thousands of resumes for jobs that they may or may not understand (and likely have never done), in order to meet metrics that may have nothing to do with department needs.

    In that environment, anything out of the ordinary regarding your resume (typos, excessive length, improper formatting, too many exclamation points) is likely to send it into the black hole instantly.

  • College Graduates: Someone just out of school will probably have a shorter resume, naturally, and one page tends to be the standard for college graduates or entry-level professionals.

    While it might seem like a good idea to dredge up every job you’ve ever done back to fry cook at McDonald’s, searching for those oh-so-relevant “cross-functional” and “intangible” skills, or adding all of your personal interests, if it ends up padding your resume beyond one page, it’s probably better to leave it off, especially if it’s not strictly related to the position for which you are applying.

There are plenty of times, however, when an expanded resume will come in handy:

stickynote

  • Hiring Managers: Once you’ve managed to get past the gatekeepers and your resume into the hands of the person you will likely be working under, they will probably want to see something far more extensive than just a one-page summary. Since at this stage, they aren’t sorting through a stack of 1000s of resumes, it will be coming down to a choice between just a few candidates, and having those extra details could make all the difference in being chosen for the position.

    If a Tax Director, for example, knows the department will be needing someone with FAS 109 experience, but of course HR didn’t include that in the job description, and you’ve got it on your resume, even though it may have seemed a minor thing, that could be what seals the deal.

  • Recruiters: Recruiters are a strange breed and very needy. If you’ve worked with them for any length of time, you’ll likely find yourself filling out dozens of forms and templates and being sent sample resumes to “update your resume”, probably with very little in the way of guidelines besides “make it more like this.”

    But since they are working directly with Hiring Managers on many occasions, they will probably not be interested in short resumes either, since all the details you provide could be what determines whether you’re selected for an interview (and whether they get the commission).

  • Referrals: If you have a former colleague, manager, or friend who can get you the inside track on a new role, it pays to have something more detailed at the ready, since it’s going to be read directly by the person responsible for hiring.

  • Format: In addition to situations where the person you are sending the resume to makes a difference, there also comes a point when you just can’t fit it on 1-2 pages anymore. A few lines just seem to fill out onto the next page, no matter how precise you are, leaving a big empty white space at the end.

    And no one wants to read tiny 8-point font with the margins shrunk almost to the page borders… and the game of decreasing font-size and zooming in Word might seem like a good idea until the person on the other end tries to import into an ATS system or print it.

    So in that case, a longer, fuller resume would be preferable to an empty white page, something important cut out, or formatting tricks.

  • Career Length: Obviously, the further in your career you are, especially if you’ve worked at many jobs and at many companies over the years, the longer your resume will be. A finance executive would have almost no space left for anything but titles if he restricted his resume to one or even two pages.

So what’s the bottom line? You’ll probably need a short and a long version of your resume, depending on who you’re sending it to and at what point in the process you are.

There may never be a need for a CV style, exhaustive treatise on your entire professional history back to your paper route and yard work and the articles you wrote for your high school journalism class, but it would pay to have an extended version with more details available just in case a recruiter or hiring manager wanted to see more before an interview, after the screening process matured to a later phase.

That one extra line could make all the difference.

Good Luck!

10 Tips for Writing an Entry-Level Resume

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Unfortunately, many career centers have misinformed new graduates regarding what a resume should look and sound like. As a result, entry-level resumes tend to be plagued by bland resume formats and poorly-written, outdated objective statements.

Instead, as a young professional, your resume should communicate how you can assist the employer with meeting their needs; it must help the employer see your value by telling them exactly how the company will benefit from hiring you.

How can you do that? Here are ten tips to get you started:

1. Include a Fact-and-Figure-Based Introduction

Fight the temptation to include generic and broad-based objective statements that can apply to a multitude of job seekers. Instead, in five to eight bullets, use facts, figures, metrics, and examples from your work experience to show your value and potential.

2. Maximize Your Experience.

It’s effortless and looks streamlined, but listing only your previous employers and job titles on your entry-level resume can leave potential employers not only unimpressed, but also wondering what exactly you did.

Add two or three bullet points for each position on your entry-level resume, detailing a few of your primary (and most impressive) responsibilities in the order that they apply to the position you’re seeking. You can also include volunteer work on your resume if it shows necessary skills. You’ll expand your credentials while also tailoring your experience to fit the job. However…

3. Do NOT Just List Your Responsibilities

Yes, it’s good to give the employer an idea of what your general duties and responsibilities were, but it’s also very effective to show them what you accomplished and what you can bring to the table. How did you go above and beyond expectations? Quantify whenever possible.

4. Use Their Language.

Incorporating words or phrases from a job listing into your entry-level resume is a great way to catch prospective employers’ eyes. If they’re looking for a “hard-working team player,” you might mention in your resume that you thrive in “team” environments and throw yourself into “hard work.” You’ll leave your employers musing that they couldn’t have said it better themselves.

5. Show Your Range.

“Past experiences” on your entry-level resume can include more than just previous jobs.

Detailing your proficiency in other areas, like specific computer programs or foreign languages, can add a lot of value to your entry-level resume. Even highlighting unrelated but important extracurricular activities on your resume can reflect your commitment to a goal – plus, you never know when an employer might bond with you over a shared love of water-skiing!

6. Add Testimonials

Another great way to give your resume veteran appeal is to include testimonials. This is still a relatively new concept and is something hiring managers may be pleasantly surprised to see. So take this opportunity to add about two or three very short quotes from an old boss, former professors, or other influential people in your field. This approach not only works as a great resume filler but helps make you that much more desirable as a candidate.

7. Incorporate Awards And Recognitions

If you’ve received awards or recognition in your short career span, don’t be shy about listing them. It’s great to be recognized for your accomplishments—and even better when an employer looks upon them favorably and even considers hiring you as a result.

Just because you’re getting your foot in the door at the entry-level doesn’t mean you’re not highly qualified for the job you want. So take time to really think about your accomplishments to date and how they make you an amazingly appealing candidate.

8. Avoid Common Mistakes

No matter how many times it’s repeated, 80% of all resumes are submitted with glaring typos. So, let’s say it again:

  • Proofread the resume
  • Get a second or third opinion
  • Don’t use the personal pronoun “I”
  • Don’t refer to yourself in the third person

9. Put Some Thought Into Your Brand

Consider how you want to brand your resume visually and verbally. Think about how each one of these should reflect you as a candidate, and be strategic about your resume choices. Choose a format that presents you as a professional—not unqualified and unprofessional. Just because you are an entry-level candidate does not mean your resume has to look basic and boring.

10. Sell Yourself!

When writing an entry-level resume, you might not have the experience that other positions require, but you don’t have to apologize or sell yourself short. Even if you can list only a couple of past accomplishments on your entry-level resume, you can describe the skills you’ll bring to future positions.

Remember these tips and strategies when writing your resume, and you’ll have a much better success rate winning interviews!