November 17, 2011
The diminishing returns of resume tweaking
Guy Kawasaki. Ever heard of him? He's an influential venture capitalist and thought leader operating out of the Bay Area who authors one of the top blogs in the country.
Several years back, he wrote a blog I'll never forget. In this piece, he informed hundreds of thousands of his readers that they were complete and utter fools if their résumé was longer than a single page.
If memory serves, I believe his quote was: "As a rule of thumb, if you can't pitch your company in 10 slides or pitch yourself in one page, your idea is stupid and you suck, respectively."
While shocking, perhaps, is Mr. Kawasaki's advice on this subject wrong? No. Not if you're trying to get a job with him or one of his companies.
Then again, neither were the top recruiters and HR executives who commented on his article, calling his advice downright ridiculous. These other experts insisted that most people, especially senior professionals, could never possibly get away with limiting their qualifications to a single page.
That friend of yours who works in HR and insists you trim the early years off your résumé to avoid potential age discrimination? She's not wrong. But neither is that other friend of yours who works as an outside recruiter and gives you the opposite advice, saying you should include your complete work history to show you're not "hiding" something.
You get my drift. Nobody offering advice on résumés is inherently wrong, because résumés, at heart, are subjective documents. People are entitled to their own opinions about what they like to see in résumés when they're the ones doing the hiring.
Some like it when job seekers mention their hobbies; others don't. Some people prize brevity; others like to see lots of information packed onto each page. And don't even get me started on the debates around font choices, the use of objective statements or whether "functional" résumé formats could ever possibly land somebody an interview.
Simply put, if you're a job seeker today, your sanity depends on accepting the fact that you're never going to please everybody with your résumé decisions. It's impossible, so don't even try.
Find a template YOU like, list your key facts, flavor it with a few relevant buzzwords and then move on to where the action really happens -- getting down to the business of networking, prospecting and generating leads!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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