October 7, 2011

Four Things You Didn’t Know About Resumes

If you’re looking for a job, there are unlimited articles online to help you write a resume that shines. But what do employers really think when they look at that piece of paper? Here are a few things you might be surprised to know:

  • Your resume will be photocopied and passed around.

You shouldn’t print your resume on toilet paper, but the quality of paper you use actually doesn’t make much of a difference. The main people in charge of hiring may never even see the original copy! At many companies, candidates are split into two groups – potential hires and those who are a definite no. If you make it to the “potential” pile, your resume will likely be photocopied and passed out to everyone from the secretary to the VP. Unless you want a design job, color likely doesn’t matter either, since copies will likely be in black and white.

  • Resume length isn’t as important as you think.

It still holds true that you don’t want a resume so long it can’t be easily scanned for information. It’s also true that a minimalist resume that doesn’t show your skills is probably not a good idea. However, stop stressing about fitting your resume neatly on a single page. It’s not as important as you think. In fact, for upper level positions, it is expected that your resume be at least two or three pages. So go ahead – use all the space you need to adequately describe your skills, experience, and education (while still being concise).

  • “References available upon request” makes you look bad.

Some potential employers won’t check your references. Others will call every single one and ask detailed questions about you. In either case, busy managers don’t want to have to ask for your reference sheet with contact information. Making them request this information is only appropriate when you’re posting your resume online and don’t want to list phone numbers publicly. When you apply directly to a job, always include your reference information. Otherwise, your resume will have to be very good to get out of the “no” pile.

  • No one cares about design.

Lastly, as long as it is easy to skim, not one really cares how fancy your resume looks. (The exception is, of course, for design-related positions.) It can simply be a bullet point list under headings with nothing fancy or stylized. It’s the content that really matters, so focus your time there, not on whether or not the resume looks cool.

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