Ask an Expert Panel About Your Resume: Part 2

YouTern is proud to present Part 2 of this 2-part post by Scott Keenan. Check out Part 1 from yesterday.

Hey everyone! Remember yesterday when I got other people to write the content for my blog… I mean when I consulted professionals in the field to give you some well-rounded advice on resume-writing? Well go ahead and get excited, because this is part 2 of that panel.

We’ll start by re-introducing the panel:

Kathy Wishart, Recruiter and Job Search Consultant with Priority Personnel Inc. Operating since 1993, Priority Personnel Inc. is an independent and locally owned New Brunswick recruiting services company. Priority Personnel Inc. is driven by a commitment to meet and exceed the needs of a diverse customer base. 75% of their business comes from repeat clients and word-of-mouth referrals.

A wide range of job classifications and services are provided to all levels of Government; not-for profit organizations; and private business such as consulting, legal, insurance, financial, accounting, development projects and corporations, communication, and information technology.

Dana Leavy is the founder of YouTern, and a self-proclaimed “Entrepreneurial Wingwoman”, helping aspiring entrepreneurs & creative freelancers start, build & grow sustainable small businesses, through career transition and business consulting. As a career adviser and small business entrepreneur, Dana has helped hundreds of professionals in advertising, marketing, design, multimedia and other industries in creating and executing effective career plans to find and DO the work they are passionate about.

Mark Babbitt is CEO and Founder of Twitter, where emerging talent connects with entrepreneur-driven businesses and non-profits through high-impact, mentor-based internships. Mark has been quoted on internship, experiential education and career matters in Forbes, Mashable, and ReadWriteWeb. Mark also contributes to Business Insider, and Intern Advocate. A serial mentor, Mark was recently honored to be named to GenJuice’s “Top 100 Most Desired Mentors” list.

Participants were asked to answer the following questions:

6. If you are over-qualified for the position, should you leave out some of your qualifications?

Kathy Wishart – If you are over-qualified, please reconsider your application. It’s not likely to go well if you do get the job. If you need the job, however, be honest. Omitting items on your resume is treading dangerous ground since most are likely to regard intentional omissions as on par with lies and misrepresentations. You might try using the cover letter to leverage your reasons for wanting the job.

Dana Leavy – There’s no one right answer here. Generally speaking the last 10-12 years are going to be the most relevant information, and you want to be aware of dating yourself if you’re a senior level candidate, or you’re breaking into an industry and vying for a more entry-level role. Do your best to only include the information that’s going to be most relevant to the role and the organization. If you’re breaking into the creative industry and going for an entry level designer role, they’re not going to care that you have 12 years of professional work experience, especially if it’s in a completely different field. You’re not misrepresenting yourself.

Mark Babbitt – No. You want to get the interview – and to do that you have to confidently display your abilities. Once your foot is on the right side of the door, you’re in a much better position to counter the “over-qualified” objection.

7. Chronological, Competency Based or Other? How do we organize our resumes to screen in and catch your attention?

Kathy Wishart – A combined format is probably the most informative type of resume since it links skills and experiences to actual jobs in a chronological order. In terms of catching my attention, I’m old school. Make it visually appealing and don’t give me too much to read or wade through.

Dana Leavy – I prefer and often recommend using a hybrid-style resume that includes the summary, a skills or core competencies section, and work experience & education. I like this formatting because again, it’s really effective for presenting the resume as a branding tool, really communicating who you are and what you’re bringing to the table. But it also flows really well in terms of each section – the summary is a general overview of your top skills, followed by additional skills and core competencies you have, and then the experience section goes into more context about where you’ve used those skills and expertise to be successful and contribute to the organization.

Mark Babbitt – Again, depends on the career and industry. For old-school medical, legal, and engineering firms, for management positions and academia a chronological resume is standard – and expected. For other industries – including digital media, advertising, public relations and more – a hybrid resume (summary statement and then chronological) tends to work best.

8. Is there a better font, font-size, length etc.? When the employer doesn’t specify these things, what do we do?

Kathy Wishart – I’m personally flexible on font type.  It needs to look professional.  Most fonts are fine at a size 11 or 12. Some people recommend a page of resume for every ten years of work experience. I certainly wouldn’t go more than 3 pages EVER for a resume; a two page resume with a cover letter is ideal.

Dana Leavy – It’s an antiquated myth that the resume HAS to be on one page, but do keep it under two if possible. Really it’s about what is the most effective format for presenting the information, keeping readability, aesthetic and communication in mind. As far as fonts and sizing, stay with the standard fonts that work on both Mac and PC (Ariel, Helvetica, Georgia, Palatino, etc.). If you use a Microsoft-based font that doesn’t translate to Mac platform, and it’s in a Word document, you risk throwing off the formatting of your entire document, and it can look sloppy. With that in mind, I always suggest presenting your resume in a PDF format, so as avoid any issues with margins when your reader opens it up.

Mark Babbitt – Same criteria as above. Old-school industries and positions stick to Times New Roman 12 or maybe a non-serif Arial 11. For other industries use a Cailbri 11 or similar visually appealing font. Just please don’t use more than two fonts on the resume; if the resume comes across as loud or obnoxious – it gets discarded.

9. Are graphics and other media helpful in getting through the screening process? If yes, do you have any tips on this for applicants?

Dana Leavy – I don’t suggest getting overly creative or putting graphics on the resume, outside of maybe a sidebar as a formatting tool for listing additional information.  Besides taking up space, graphics on resumes don’t really serve a purpose, impress anyone, and in my opinion they’re cheesy. If you’re a designer, your portfolio should speak for itself. Video resumes are kind of cool, but they’re still up and coming, and most companies prefer the standard resume that they can scan really quick instead of watching a several minute multimedia presentation – they don’t have time for that. The only time I would say it’s okay to get creative with your branding package is if it’s something that’s really going to appeal to the type of company to whom you’re applying.  If that’s what they do, they might enjoy knowing that you’re knowledgeable in that area. But I would still have a standard resume, and then maybe redirect them to your blog, or website, if you want to give them more of an in-depth creative branding presentation on who you are.

Mark Babbitt – Links to social media sites, as well as an online portfolio or blog, is more than welcome. Graphics can be a distraction for most industries (design and digital media are exceptions). Infographic resumes – when well done – can be a great way to get noticed in new media companies and positions.

10. Is there any advice you would give to job applicants regarding their resume that you have not already addressed?

Kathy Wishart – You wouldn’t walk onto a construction site without a hard hat and steel-toed boots. Why, then, would you approach your job search without the adequate tools to get the job done? I’m talking about your resume. Unless you’ve been formally trained on resume writing and are an accomplished resume writer, don’t go it alone. Consult a resume writing service. It’s an investment in your career.

Dana Leavy – Once again, just remember that the resume is a branding tool that’s meant to tell the story of your career, and the biggest aspects of that to keep in mind are professionalism, formatting/readability, and messaging. Is your brand consistent throughout?  What do you want the employer to know about you as a candidate, and are you communicating that? Are you using words and phrases that describe what is unique about YOU, and not just presenting you as someone with the basic qualifications? If you look at it as a branding tool and build it in that way, instead of a standard required document, it’s going to work much better for you.

Mark Babbitt – Your resume must be positioned to compete. That does not mean the resume has to be perfect; it just needs to be a little bit better than your competition. To do that, the resume must be:

1.  Free of grammar and spelling errors

2.  Tailored to each position/application

3.  Peppered with keywords directly from the job description

4.  MUST contain a statement summarizing your soft skills

5.  MUST contain quantified substantiation of your performance (i.e., “exceeded quota by 132%)

Proper execution of these five issues alone places you ahead of at least 90% of your competition, and should be considered mandatory elements of a good resume.

Thanks again to all of the participants. If you have any questions or comments feel free to add them below, or follow the panel members on twitter and ask them yourselves. I hope this unraveled some of the mystery behind what the “rules” on resume writing are.

Happy job-hunting!



About the Author: Scott Keenan is a twenty something with a uniquely cynical view on everything. Scott specializes in Human Resources and Marketing, and he “shares the awesome with you as often as he can.” Check out Scott’s blog, and connect with him on Twitter!




This entry was posted in Resumes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.