June 24th, 2011
You’ve carefully outlined your responsibilities as obviously as possible in a clean, easy on the eyes format. You’ve spent hours carefully quantifying the results of your years of hard work on a position-by-position basis, highlighting one carefully worded, attention-getting achievement after another. Every single letter on your resume is perfectly in place; it is a marvel of precision phraseology worthy of a Pulitzer (or a Polk, if you’re Bill O’Reilly).
And it’s a quarter page or more too long.
Now this isn’t to say that a resume of more than one page is a bad thing – two or even three pages, fully occupied by text, well, that’s just fine. One and one-third pages or two and one-quarter pages just doesn’t feel right in the exact same way that a vestigial tail or any conjoined twin doesn’t (though your resume will less likely wind up a feature on Japanese news or give you a starring role in Basket Case Two).
In today’s market though, a great many job seekers have been employed by companies involved in one or more mergers. This can artificially pad a resume by creating multiple positions over what should have been one contiguous term of employment with no resignations. In a case like this, it’s generally accepted practice to lump together multiple pre merger names under one heading.
If you’re really pressed for space, you can even take the collapsing a step further and combine older but largely similar positions at different/non-merged/unrelated organizations under a single group (for example, 1 line with “ABC Corp 1997-1998” and the next with “XYZ Corp 1996-1997” above a single title “Account Executive” with 1 set of responsibilities). These prior positions aren’t as relevant to what you’re doing now and this is generally considered an acceptable means of space-saving among the high-volume resume reading community – as long as the proper dates are listed on company-by-company basis.
However, there are a number of more pragmatic approaches using MS Word that may be helpful in reducing the size with zero or nominal content editing (ensuring your message gets across unabridged), as follows:
- Use “Shrink to Fit” to reduce by 1 page: if you’ve got a stray paragraph or couple of lines that don’t make it onto the last page, go to “Print Preview” from the “File” menu and then select “Shrink to Fit”, which will make automatic adjustments throughout your document to reduce the output by 1 page exactly. This works very well with plain text, but won’t affect embedded tables or text boxes as well (or sometimes, at all).
- Eliminate or reduce white space between paragraphs and in individual lines: consider putting title or location on a line that only has company and date on opposite sides of the page. Alternately, you can reduce the break in between paragraphs to 1.5 lines instead of 2 full lines, producing an extra line of text per 2 paragraphs. In the case of my own (now unused) resume, this would produce upwards of 5 lines per page. Education can be reduced to a single line, or two, in a pinch.
- Tweak font size: minimum standard for ease of legibility tends to be 8, although I like 10. However, one can tweak font size by 0.5. Reducing from 10 to 9.5 yields a 5% increase in characters per line, making the same amount of text fit in a smaller space.
- Maximize margins: most printers can print with just 0.2 or 0.3 inches of white space on top, left, right and bottom…but the default for MS Word is 1 inch all around. Maximize your margins, go to “Print” and find out what your own printer’s parameters are; Word will automatically correct to minimum standards for your printer. More text per line and more lines per page=fewer pages.
- Tweak bullets and numbers: you can reduce the space between a bullet and the following text, producing about five characters per bulleted line. Also, consider not having a bulleted paragraph’s text justified at the left side, but instead having the bullet as a line character with text directly below it – another 3-10 characters per line, depending on bullet settings.
- Here’s an example of what a bullet looks like after tweaking the after-bullet spacing and paragraph formatting, by comparison to the paragraph numbers appearing before and after this paragraph
- Use text boxes: a recent example I read had a large name (68 size font) on the left with the contact info in the same vertical space in a text box on the right (10.5 font). This saves the line that the name would normally go on (1 extra line of text) and also makes my name stand out on the page. Text boxes can be moved independent of other formatting.
- Use the thesaurus in Word: sometimes an equal can be made with a shorter word. My own favorite example is “utilize” – there is no use for this where one cannot substitute “use” to equal effect. You may also consider Bullfighter, a Word plugin developed by Deloitte that helps eliminate multisyllabic management jargon (available for free, here).
- Be aware of font: if you are using Courier (which looks like an old typwriter), every character takes up the same amount of space. Other fonts (Arial, Garamond, Verdana, Times New Roman) do not share this feature and have variable spacing per letter. Consider the following 5 character-per-line entries:
- Finally, be aware of font face – bold face takes up the most space per character. Consider underlining plain text to take up less space, or try italics – which may take up the least space of all (depending on your font).
June 21st, 2011
We’re big fans of some of the advice Mom gave us as kids here at Rockwood. That included sending thank-you notes – even to Aunt Clara for the world’s most unwearable pajamas she gave us one year.
Within the job search, a similar follow up regimen highlighted in this blog may not always be helpful in preventing more bunny suits, but Mom’s Rules still apply – for the “gift” of an interview, sending a thank-you note is a good idea.
Just like the blog in the link above, we recommend sending a thank-you note after an interview – but just like the blog, we continue to emphasize that accuracy is of the utmost importance. Getting a business card from the people you’ve interviewed with is a great start, but if one is not available asking for correct spelling and title is fine at the conclusion of the interview.
Unlike the blog, though, the typical approach we suggest is example-driven – an opening sentence like the one shown in the link is good, but any points made about your qualifications are best proven through statements of directly relevant experience: “You mentioned in the interview that recruiting was a big part of the role; I am excited about being able to leverage my 20 years of recruiting experience in search firm and Human Resources environments for [company].”
We typically suggest making 2 or 3 points that link statements made by the interviewer to your experience – it both shows the interviewer you were listening and gives you a chance to “double up” on connecting the dots for interviewers. The letter should be brief and to the point – exhaustive reviews of your qualifications will likely not be read.
The call afterwards – 3-5 days was suggested in the blog – should be handled on a case-by-case basis. If an interviewer tells you there’s still 2 weeks before the manager is back, you might consider waiting longer.
We must also admit that we have sometimes only breezed through thank-you notes ourselves – but a well-written thank you note with an appropriately-timed follow up call has never harmed the process, and many times reminds us of action steps we need to take.
June 16th, 2011
Let’s call it like it is – as headhunters, we want to see those professionals we’ve placed transition seamlessly from their current employer to the client we’ve matched their skills and experiences with after an offer is accepted.
Part of the process we recommend is a brief resignation letter – “Please be advised that effective [two weeks from the date of the letter] I am ending my employment with [current employer’s name]. Thank you for the opportunities you have provided me. Regards, [your name]”
But another part of the process we recommend is this: you’ve already made up your mind to leave, so remain committed but cordially discrete. When the discussion comes to “Where are you going?”, we usually recommend politely but assertively declining to comment (“I’d prefer not to discuss it now. I’ll let you know after I’ve started.”).
Likewise, we recommend not discussing the terms of your new offer – doing so almost always creates the impression you’re playing one offer against the other, which has the unwanted side effect of creating a negative connotation on your way out.
Gently reminding your employer that you’d like to keep the focus on a smooth transition for their business creates an opportunity to leave an exceptionally strong lasting impression.
This article from Harvard Business Review directly echoes the sentiment with the premise that what we remember most about co-workers are the highest and lowest experiences – and since, at resignation, your personal peaks have already been experienced by your employer, it is best to avoid leaving a sour taste should a resignation not be handled courteously, professionally and with aplomb.
Leave with brevity and certainty, assisting in the transition where possible, and you’ll create a new peak experience that often turns into a future reference.
June 9th, 2011
With competition for open positions higher than it’s ever been, a correspondingly high emphasis is placed on error-free resumes and position applications.
A recent survey of Human Resources executives revealed that an overwhelming 76% offer no forgiveness for even a single typo – which often times includes a correctly spelled but improperly used word (affect versus effect, for example).
Businessinsider.com offers a great selection of common resume mistakes that we as recruiters (who often read 100 or more resumes per day) often see; they are faux pas that the average job seeker may not even be aware of.
You can see them here: http://read.bi/jlzoHN
September 17th, 2010
I came to this business after spending years as a human resources practitioner. Talent is hard to find in any job market and matching that talent so that it’s the right person, for the right job, at the right price and time is difficult in every economic climate. Excluding someone because they happen to be between jobs is not good business. While we cannot change the world, we believe we do our part, one job and one candidate at a time. ~BG
September 16th, 2010
Employers are hiring, but there is a lot less “slack” in the candidate pool for certain areas of employment. However, there are a lot of misconceptions out there. Companies are often under the impression that there are more candidates whose backgrounds fit their needs than there really are and candidates are a bit more fearful about changing positions than they used to be. We are seeing openings that would have been filled more quickly in less uncertain times stay open longer – usually because the Company is waiting for the “ideal” candidate. It’s going to take a bit more time, but little by little we are sensing a return to “normalcy” whatever that is.
August 4th, 2010
This is the Rockwood Search Associates Job Blog. Please check back soon for updates!