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Candidate Help & Advice

How to Upgrade Your Resume, Part 2

Write Resume photo from ShutterstockHaving a full-time career coaching business for 12+ years, I have reviewed thousands of resumes and rewritten hundreds of professional and executive resumes. I believe I have seen all of the typical resume writing shortcomings. In this series of articles, I want to help you upgrade your resume to get better career and job search results.

My earlier article examined Seven Reasons Your Resume Is Hurting Your Career and offered some initial resume writing advice. More recently, Part 1 of this series discussed the importance of your resume passing the “15-Second Skim Test” and specific suggestions were made to avoid being instantly rejected by recruiters and others. In this article, let’s address the beginning parts of your resume… the header and (if desired) objective sections.

The Resume Header

The header section appears at the top of the first page. It typically contains the candidate name and contact information. Here is a list of typical header contents and a recommendation for each:

  • Your name – Provide your name as you prefer to be addressed, such as Will Smith rather than C. William Smith. Use a font 4 to 6 points larger than the font of the body.
  • Your mailing address – Unless there are extenuating reasons, omit this. Everything you need will come via email, and your location can be used to screen you out.
  • Your email address – This is a must have. If you are currently employed, assume your email can be read by your employer and use a personal address. Don’t use as it is this that dates you.
  • Your phone number(s) – A cell number is best. Leave all others off, unless there are extenuating reasons to include them.
  • Your LinkedIn profile hyperlink – If you have a common name and there are lots of you in your metro area, then include it. Otherwise, assume readers can find you and leave it off.
  • Your personal website or similar hyperlink – If you have a quality personal website that presents you professionally, consider including it. Most such websites are NOT well done and should be omitted.

Your Resume Objective

Now that you have an appropriate header, let’s turn to a controversial topic – providing a job or career objective. Most candidates feel it is risky and limiting to include an objective in their resume. If done poorly, I agree. If done right, I disagree.

Two reasons to omit an objective are (1) you want to do a variety of things but are using only one resume and (2) you don’t know how to include an objective that is appropriate without it being overly limiting. I recommend you include an objective because it will make your resume stronger. For situation (1), you should narrow your focus to 2 or 3 general career objectives and have a separate resume (with an objective) for each one.

For situation (2), having separate resumes with appropriate objectives will solve some of the problem. Additionally, consider these recommendations to create a desirable one:

  • Avoid an overly limiting objective, such as a specific job title like “Java developer”, unless you are customizing the resume for a specific job submission. “Software developer” is likely to attract more attention and still be accurate.
  • Avoid a non-specific object that is too broad, such as “Developer”. There are many types of developers and such an objective forces the resume reader to work to clarify this.
  • If desired, use a compound objective such as “Software Developer / Web Applications” to clarify with liming your options too much.

I utilize these strategies in my resume writing for clients and have found them received well by recruiters and others. What do you think?