The resume is usually your initial introduction to a prospective employer. There are numerous styles and formats to choose from when deciding how to best present yourself.
Many people wonder if there is a significant difference from one style to another in terms of how they will be perceived by the employer. They also frequently ask about length, keywords, and various content categories contained within the resume.
All of the choices you make about the way you present yourself are important, particularly to the most desirable employers. This video explains perfectly well how to write an outstanding resume:
The easiest way to understand this concept is to relate it to the clothing you chose to wear to an interview. For certain jobs, a casual look is perfectly fine. Other positions absolutely require a suit with matching shoes, shirt, etc.
Many companies spend millions of dollars each year on image advertising. The purpose of these ads is to create a particular image in the minds of prospective customers, as opposed to direct response ads that call for immediate action.
For years, advertisers have firmly believed that positive images result in positive purchasing decisions. If your resume reflects that you could enhance that image, the likelihood that you will be granted an interview increases significantly.
Companies apply this same logic when hiring new employees. If the job is going to involve any contact with the public or customers of the corporation, they feel it is imperative that the employee project a high degree of professionalism.
This is not restricted exclusively to the sales staff. Administrative Assistants frequently interact with clients on the phone, as do Customer Service, Management, Shipping & Receiving, Procurement, etc. Companies also evaluate professionalism in the resumes of Field Service Technicians, Computer Support, and other technical personnel who come in contact with clients.
Resume styles and formats
So, how does this translate to resume styles and formats? The way you choose to present yourself to a prospective employer will always be judged on the level of professionalism that can be expected from you when left unsupervised.
A manager said a few years ago, “You can always dress down in an interview; you can never dress up.” He meant that if I met with a person who was casually dressed and I was wearing a suit, I could always take off the jacket, loosen the tie, and dress down to their level.
However, if I elected to go to the meeting dressed casually, and the person I was meeting with was dressed in a suit, I would be at a disadvantage that I couldn’t change.
The same holds true for your resume presentation. These days, there’s so much wrong with resumes! A formal, professional presentation is usually the way to go for job seekers who could be expected to interact with clients if hired.
The complicating factor is that after resumes are screened at the computer level by Applicant Tracking Software, they are frequently handled by several people during the hiring process. It only takes one of those people to say you don’t look the part on paper for the resume to be thrown away.
Selecting an appropriate format is generally a function of the scope of responsibilities for the position being sought, and the amount of relevant experience on the part of the applicant is important as well, and an indication of soft and hard skills would be appreciated as well.
When students graduate from college or a training program, over 90% of them should be using a one-page resume. Placement offices generally make graduates aware of this fact.
Unfortunately, many people believe this means they should stay with a one-page resume for the remainder of their careers.
Once the applicant moves past the entry-level positions and has accumulated at least two years of significant experience, a two-page resume should be seriously considered. All too often, applicants leave important keywords off of their resumes for the sake of brevity.
Thank you and follow-ups
The resume presentation is not just about length, format, keywords, grammar, sentence structure, etc. It is about presenting yourself in a manner consistent with the position being sought and maintaining a consistent image throughout your presentation with all supporting documents, such as cover letter, salary history, references, thank you, and follow-up letters. A great resume will help you open doors to positions that would otherwise remain closed.
The old saying, “You’ll never have a 2nd chance for making the 1st impression,” has never been truer than when it comes to your resume presentation.