You'll see a lot of opinions pro and con about the length of your resume. Some people still swear by the one-page resume. Others talk about two pages max—it's not a book. I come down on the side of, "as long as the resume needs to be to cover your career results over the last 10 years." Now, not everyone will be in the workforce for 10 years, but if it's three years and three pages on the resume, that's great. It covers your career. For those in the workforce for 30 years, it might take four to seven pages to cover the last 10 years. My personal resume is five pages long, and I have grey hair. For a reason. Regardless of the total length, the first page of anyone's resume is critically important. Here's why: your resume's first page summarizes your job skills and business results, and it persuades the resume reader to read the rest of the document. That first page is the hook to get a manager to look closely at your work and be motivated to put you on the list for a phone interview. Two-page resume? Seven-page resume? Meh. It's what's on the first page that will persuade the resume reader to sign you up for the phone interview. So, what must be there?
Your contact information
You'd be surprised how often this gets resumes thrown out: Missed phone numbers or email addresses. Really? Yes. Other goofs: An e-mail address that only a zombie would love, or too much information (marital status!). A clean contact information area—including a good title for the file name of your resume—counts. It's part of the first, and lasting, impression you'll make.
Your career statement
Some call this the objective statement, but whatever you call it, just don't label it. This is a paragraph of two or three sentences that describes what you uniquely bring to the work. Yes, you can be a "seasoned programmer" or "project manager," but you have to add the kicker to show your specialty that you bring to the work. Are you a software engineering person? Great. What kind? "... who specializes in financial programs oriented to retirement portfolios." Very specific, and if you apply to that kind of a position, you'll get noticed. The reader will want to read more.
Your job skill listing
I've talked about this before: You need to list your job skills on the first page so that a resume reader or software algorithm can match your job skills to the skills on the job description. The more check marks, the more likely you are to get the phone interview.
Your career highlights
These are the top achievements in your career, whenever they happened, that demonstrate that your work produces business results for the job description you're applying for. This is not you applying for a project manager position and then describing your great successes as a software engineer. No. Project manager positions, project manager results. What this section does on the first page is show the person reading your resume that you are producing good business results in your work. And every hiring manager wants someone who can help meet his or her business goals.
Bonus: a recommendation from LinkedIn
In the end, companies want recommendations for your work. Why not look at those recommendations you've gotten on LinkedIn and copy and paste the best, most appropriate one into the first page of your resume? The recommendations are public, and using one in your resume supports your contention that you produce good work.
It's the first page
Do you see why the first page of a resume is so important and how this format helps you put your best work forward?
- Job skills to check against the job description.
- Objective that is laser-focused on the job application.
- A public recommendation showing your value.
- A list of business results you've already accomplished doing this work.
- A clean, sure-fire way to contact you for that phone interview.
Makes me want to read the rest of your resume. And get you on that phone interview list. What do you think?