According to Robin Ryan, author of Winning Resumes, your resume gets a 15-second glance before it is decided whether to continue reading it, or paper airplane it to the wastebasket. Fifteen seconds! But, in that 15 seconds, the HR person or hiring manager does a lot more than just scan the color and quality of your paper, the chosen font and the general format of your resume. Let's start at the top and eliminate some common errors.
Avoid graphics. As Ryan says, "Lines across the page, artistic designs, color inks, clipart and photos should be avoided." Electronic scanners are often used and graphics may distort the text.
Sell. Like your understated "interview suit," design your resume to sell yourself in a professional way.
Center your name in bold print, a little larger than your address, which should be a physical address, not a P.O. Box number. Bold print your telephone number, cell number and e-mail address, making it easy for the employer to find you.
• Next comes either a one-line objective or a summary of qualifications, which many employers prefer. This is a statement of your most marketable skills and experience, relative to the job you are seeking, presented in a mini paragraph of five or six sentences. It tells the reader what you are bringing to their table.
• I like a one-line objective, but only when you are applying for a specific job with a specific employer. Name the employer's job title in the objective like:
"Seeking to continue my career in human resource management."
Then follow this objective with your short summary of qualifications.
Do not, under any circumstances, present an all-too-popular generic catchall objective like:
"Seeking a position with a growth organization that would utilize my education, work experience and maturity."
What does that say? Everybody wants that, and who uses the word "utilize" in normal conversation? A statement like this will guarantee your resume will be jet propelled into the nearest trash can.
Marvin Walberg is a job search coach.