Your resume is a marketing document. Too much information presented as a career biography may not achieve the results you are hoping for. A recruiter or hiring manager, who has never met you, will judge you by its content and appearance alone, and decide whether you deserve further consideration for the role in which you have expressed interest. A brief, clear, attractive resume will recommend you more highly to a recruiter than a long-winded, poorly designed one will – even if the content is the same. The time investment is significant, even if produced with the assistance of a professional writer.
Here are a few tips for creating an enticing resume.
People who come from security, law enforcement and intelligence backgrounds may tend to include wordy explanations of their positions and duties in an effort to be truthful and precise. These are good qualities in a professional, but a resume must make an impact on its reader in 20 seconds or less, so in this case, brevity is key. If you have led a certain type of program, simply state that and move on; unless the program is so unusual that the reader may not understand its significance, there is no need to explain it further. However, if you accomplished something extraordinary in that program – if you were a loss prevention manager and implemented a program that dropped your shrinkage from 20 percent to nothing, for instance – you should consider including a bullet point that states the results you achieved.
Tailor to the Position
You may have a 10-page list of positions and work experience that are relevant to a security career in general, but a recruiter or hiring manager does not need or want every little bit of that information. You should focus on the areas highlighted in the job description. Make a list of the key things you have accomplished in the course of your career and then pick out the items that are relevant to the position you are applying for. If you want to ensure that your resume conveys that you have a broad range of experience, note that in a summary at the top or a simple list of key experience areas.
Pay Attention to the Design
Try to develop a resume that is visually pleasing, easy to read and that can impact or interest someone within 20 seconds. A page so dense with words that it looks like an essay will likely receive little attention, because the people sorting through the stack of resumes will consciously or unconsciously tend to gravitate towards those that look clean and organized. A neat resume also conveys that you have good communication and presentation skills because you can synthesize a lot of information into a small form and make it visually and verbally appealing to the reader. Choose a layout that you like and that is reflective of you as a person.
Watch Your Wording
Use power verbs to start sentences. Don’t use “I” or “responsible for” – this phrase will make your resume sound like a position description. Do not take your old enterprise job description and convert it to a resume.
Include as Much Contact Information as You Can
Include your address, name, phone numbers (work, home and mobile, clearly marked as such), and email(s) that you may be contacted on. Also include information and dates for every position listed. You can list month and year or even just year – but do not make the recruiter chase dates for you.
Hard Copies are Still Important
While in the beginning stages of a search submission most likely you will be sending your resume electronically, you will find that at times, you will need to have available a hard copy, perhaps to bring to an interview, or to drop into the mail as a follow-up to discussion. A bright white page is suggestive of rigidity and may send the wrong impression to the reader. Light beiges or ivory colors tend to work best, but not too yellow in tone. Small details like this, along with choice of font size and type, format, amount of white space make a big difference when taken together. You want your resume to be easy on the eyes and presented in a manner which will be easy to read, even if just skimmed.
Get Outside Impressions of Content
Last, hand someone your resume and ask them to read it, then take it back from them after 20 seconds and ask them what it says and what their impression is. This will give you a good idea of what that all-important recruiter may think.