In many ways it defines you, can mean the difference between feast or famine, employment or joblessness, and sometimes tells more about you than you ever know or would have ever intended. It’s not your DNA, it’s your resume. In your professional life, your resume is more than a summary of your key career accomplishments or a list of the jobs you’ve held, but rather it is the one thing that prospective employers will use to make an initial 5 or 10-second assessment (because, truthfully, that’s sometimes as long as it takes to review a resume) of your suitability for particular a position.
So, apart from the standard advice to use the right language, and ensure proper line spacing, margins and fonts, what are some of the other things to consider before sending off a resume?
Understand Cultural Norms
The world is becoming smaller and smaller, and companies are becoming more global by the day. So now more than ever, it’s worth understanding how to construct a great resume that will fit within the cultural constructs of the company you’re sending the resume to. For example, for companies in some cultures it is expected to send a short, succinct resume that is between one and two pages, and nothing more, or you look like you’re embellishing your background. By contrast, companies in other cultures expect to see something like the traditional ‘C.V.’ (curriculum vitae), which tends to be 3 to 5 pages, more detailed, and tells your work and personal history like a story, rather than a brief list of purely professional experiences. Wherever the culture or country the company you’re applying to, make sure you know what the expected norms are, and adhere to them, always.
Another example of how cultural norms impact what is expected on a resume is related to whether or not to include a photo of yourself. In the US, this is an absolute no-no, unless you’re applying for an acting or other type of job that is heavily focused on the appearance of the applicant. However, in many European and Asian countries, it is expected that a photo will be included in the resume. Exceptions to this rule, however, are global companies that are headquartered in the US. Any company that has a US parent may be using US-based recruiters for staffing activities in other countries. And for this reason, it never bodes well to use a photo on a resume in this instance, as most American companies view this as unnecessary, old-fashioned, and smacking of factors (attractiveness, gender, ethnicity, etc.) that are totally unrelated to an individual’s suitability for the job.
Omissions: Know When to and When Not to
Anyone who has spent a fair amount of time as a recruiter in a reasonably-sized organization will be able to recount the many times they’ve interviewed someone, only to find out the person greatly exaggerated or downplayed some aspect of their career. It’s important to do everything possible to make sure you’re never one of these people, for two reasons: 1) the chances of your omission or covering up of the truth will likely be discovered if you make it to the interview stage, and 2) you will feel mortified when you have to try to explain yourself to the interviewer who has discovered your blunder.
A couple of examples of omissions to avoid:
- Dates of employment – don’t try to conceal how little or how much experience you have by eliminating dates of employment. While how long you spent in a job is usually less important than the achievements you had, if you don’t include dates of employment on your resume, you automatically give the impression that you have something to hide.
- Unconventional extracurricular activities – many recruiters and hiring managers like to see a little snippet of information of what an applicant likes to do in their spare time, but NOT if it will gross them out, offend them, or make them feel afraid of being alone in a room with you for an interview. If you enjoy movies, skiing, or kayaking, that’s great. But if you eat raw insects, won an award for most body piercings at last year’s state fair, or spend all your spare time watching Archie Bunker reruns, don’t share those facts on your resume.
by Melanie Haniph