Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Crafting Your Resume (Part Three): Applying for Technical Positions in High-Tech Startups

Part Three – Format – Does it Matter?

So far we have discussed getting started on your new resume and guidelines for its length.  Today we thought we would give a framework for formatting your resume.

(1) Does Format Matter?  And Why?

In a nutshell, yes, format matters!  Think of your resume as an extension of your self, providing your readers with their first image of you.  Don’t underestimate the importance of making a good visual impression.  While a poor format will most likely not cause a resume to be rejected, a good one will help showcase the reasons (such as your experience and accomplishments) why you are a good candidate for the position. An online template can be a useful tool in crafting your format, but it’s important to try to make your resume feel somewhat unique and personal.  And by all means make the format (fonts, bullets, spacing, etc.) consistent throughout your resume. 

We have seen many examples in which people have mixed different fonts and styles.  This lack of consistency can expose extensive editing of a resume over time.  It also gives the impression that a candidate does not pay attention to details.

(2) Is There a Specific Format I Need to Use?

We don’t believe that you need to follow a specific template to craft a good resume.  Formatting in a way that you like will show some individuality and help the reader learn more about you.  Take care to ensure that your message comes through clearly.  Here are a few ideas on organization:

• Summary – We have found that it’s often effective to place a small summary at the top of a resume – try to use this to catch the reader’s attention and make them want to read more!

• Start with your strengths – Is it your past work experiences, your accomplishments, or your education that make you a strong candidate?  Showcase your most important qualities and start off strong by listing your relevant skills and achievements first. You may need to change this order and tailor your resume to emphasize different strengths for various positions.

• We have noticed that bulleted lists work well for most sections in technical resumes.  They are easy to read and help to highlight a person’s main skills and accomplishments.  Of course, this is just a suggestion.

• Hobby/Interest Section – Some people find that including some outside interests can help them connect with resume readers.  If you would like to include this, you can add it towards the end of your resume.  But only mention things you are truly passionate about here.  Who knows? You may find you have something in common with the hiring manager and this “extra” information on your resume may spark a connection!

(3) A Few Things to Remember

In general, we recommend that you choose an organized, legible, and consistent format.  Be mindful of your readers, and do your best to make it easy and pleasant for them to read your resume.  Is the font large enough for someone to comfortably read it?  If not, make sure you reformat it.  Does it look good when read on a smart phone or on a tablet?  Make sure that it does!

Do your best to submit an easy-to-follow resume that shows your individuality, illustrates your qualifications for the position, and helps you make a great first impression.