Dear J.T. & Dale: Someone who reviewed my resume just told me that I need to get rid of some of the bullet points, that each job should, at most, have three or four. Is this correct? – Marie
J.T.: Writing a resume has gotten trickier. You need to write for the human eye and also for the online applicant tracking system that evaluates your resume based on keywords that match those in the job description. Nevertheless, here’s a good general rule when deciding what to keep and what to eliminate: Resumes need to have less text and more white space. When you write in long paragraphs and sentences, there is just too much information for the viewer to absorb.
DALE: You hear the term “eye candy” to describe good graphic design, and that term applies here, at least for your human readers. You need to make it easy and pleasant for them to find what they want to find, while getting them to see what you want them to see. Resumes don’t have all the visuals and colors that make for good graphic design, but white space, italics, and bold type help the eye along on its journey.
As for bullet points, it isn’t the number but the density that slows the reader – a set of five five-word bullets is more appealing than two bullets of 20 words each. It’s eye candy, not eye meatloaf.
J.T.: A trend in resumes is to create an “Experience Summary” at the top that lists the skill sets you want to emphasize. Then the “Work History” is listed beneath it with roughly three to five single-line bullet points outlining quantifiable accomplishments. All that being said, here’s the most important piece of advice: Don’t think your resume is going to get you the job.
These days, it’s who you know that determines that. Your goal should be to design an updated resume, but then you must work like crazy to get it personally into the hands of hiring managers via direct referral. Studies show that is the way people are beating out the competition and getting hired in this competitive market.
Feel free to send questions to J.T. and Dale via e-mail at [email protected] or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
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