A Few Rules for a Good Resume

I’ve been helping my sister with her resume. Here are a few good rules of thumb:

Make it look nice visually
Before anyone reads it, they look at it. The first impression happens in less than 2 seconds. Make it look nice. I downloaded a free template and then modified it. If you aren’t sure, ask someone with taste (artistic) and make sure it’s pretty. Trust their judgement.

Sentences should be as short as possible (but no shorter)
I can’t stress this enough. Stop trying to write a book. Keep it brief.

Keep it to one page for every 10 years worked.
10 years should fit on a single piece of paper. One guy once gave me ten pages. Before the interview started, I placed each sheet of resume side-by-side on the table. I had to turn 90 degrees when I ran out of table. My first question was to ask him why he thought 10 pages was the right amount to communicate. Why not 50 pages? or 1?  What difference does it make?

Everyone does it. You have to do it. Don’t undersell yourself. Don’t try to be humble in your resume. This is expected behavior to play up your own role. In the interview, you can be as clear as you want. In the resume, don’t hold back.

Make it skim friendly
People don’t read. They skim. Make it easy to get the gist in about 5-10 seconds of looking. One technique is to bold certain words. Notice in this post how the rules are bold and the details are not. One can skim the bold parts and get the gist.

Don’t use the same word all the time
When you have bullets, which everyone does, don’t start the bullet with the same words. Led, Managed, Developed, Refactored, Created, Built, Constructed, Designed, Implemented. Synonyms are your friend.

Get Proof reading help
Nothing is worse than a typo. Have 3 independent proofers. Get people who are anal about that shit. You know, the people who say oxford comma.

Make a PDF
Don’t send the word doc. Too much can go wrong. PDFs will ensure that it looks right. Especially, if you use a custom font.

I hope this is helpful to someone.

Whatya think?