If You’re Sending Me a Resume…

April 22, 2013
close up of hands typing on a keyboard

I’m old enough to have a professional life pre-internet. One of the wonders I didn’t see coming is how quickly good, free, detailed, often illustrated advice on how to do ANYTHING would be available via said Internet. Resume writing advice is quite common with 67.8m hits on Google. So most people are writing good resumes, right? Let’s go to the tape.

(This is probably going to come across like I’m old and grouchy. I am, but really, this is done out of love. For my sanity.)

So far in 2013, I’ve received 26 resumes from experienced candidates seeking full-time employment. I’m intentionally leaving out graduating seniors and interns – they get some slack. For now.

  • 20 of 26 were two or more pages long, 10 were three or more pages long. Two pages doesn’t sound terrible, but the majority of the ‘twos’ were clearly ‘threes’ with tiny fonts. If you aren’t familiar with the phrase ‘TL;DR’, this would be a good time to look it up.
  • 10 of 26 were walls of text. Recruiters/evaluators are typically flooded with resumes when they post a position (that 26 was without posting a position). You have very limited time to get their attention. Seeing a wall of tiny text, four pages long is A) less effective than you might think at getting attention and B) soul-destroying.
  • 1 of 26 had no cover letter or cover email. That’s an unusually low number – good job world! Cover letters aren’t that important, but some kind of message that personalizes is quite helpful. It’s especially helpful when that personalization shows that you did your homework (see below).
  • 4 of 26 were for positions we don’t have and that no one could reasonably infer we would (preschool teacher or librarian, for example). One of those even referenced ‘a position advertised on our website’ … a position that we don’t have, and thus was never advertised on our website. This is also unusually low – I typically get a lot more. I’m not even sure what to say.
  • 2 of 26 used color intelligently to make their resume easier to read and stand out. I understand the concern that your resume might be printed in black and white – you should choose colors that will print acceptably in that circumstance. On the other hand, I rarely print resumes and suspect I’m not unusual in that regard. I will see all the glossy color awesomeness of your nicely formatted resume.
  • 4 of 26 included their LinkedIn public profile URL. This was the most shocking number to me. Unless you have a very unusual name, it can be a pain to find you there. And I want to find you there – to see if we have any connections, if you’ve gotten any recommendations, etc. If I’m going to forward you to a peer or colleague, I’m more likely to forward your LinkedIn profile than your resume (for all the above reasons). Don’t make it hard work to find you.

Referencing this post in your cover email would be a fine example of doing your homework. 😉