The resumes I receive from candidates can vary quite a bit in terms of their quality. However, even those at the very top of the spectrum usually require some amount of tweaking and proofreading before they're passed along to my clients.
While it's not always practical to apply your editorial skills to every resume in every situation, there's no downside - and considerable upside - to making improvements whenever possible. A dynamite resume not only reflects well on the quality of your work, it'll put money in your pocket.
Delegating the Revision Process
Most candidates are quite willing to improve their resumes, and if given proper direction, will do the heavy lifting themselves. To that end, I've created a page on my website that shows an ideal or exemplary resume. All I ask is that they model their revisions based on a template that's been proven to work well in my particular industry. As long as they apply the elements of formatting, style and content creation found on the website resume to their own work, they'll do just fine. If they get stuck or need help, I'm happy to make suggestions or perform a few quick edits.
My approach is to help the reader reach the conclusion that the candidate's experience is relevant and transferable. Mostly, I do this by adding, deleting or separating out information to make it more explicit.
In my niche, both the context and the relevancy of experience are important elements of a dynamite resume. So, including items such as the previous employer's size, products and customer base, as well as the candidate's accomplishments as they relate to my client's job (in this case, new product development) are absolutely essential in qualifying the candidate. By leaving them out, my client might have difficulty getting their mind around - and recalling, many weeks later - why this candidate is a good fit for the job.
Continuity and Clarity of Design
You can apply this level of specificity to every aspect of the resume, not just the chronology. Whenever possible, make sure the summary, education, patents, awards, publications and so forth showcase any information that might answer the reader's underlying question: Can this candidate solve my problem?
At the risk of sounding “New Age,” I believe that great resumes, like great interior design, adhere to the principles of Feng Shui. That is, you want the eye to travel easily, pausing to consider those qualities that have the most meaning. A resume that's clear, visually attractive and well organized will make a great first impression, even before the first word is read.
Bill Radin is one of the most popular and highly regarded trainers in the recruiting industry, and has trained many of the largest independent and franchised recruiting organizations, including Management Recruiters, Dunhill, Sanford Rose, Snelling and Fortune Personnel. His speaking engagements include the NAPS national conference, the annual Kennedy Conference, and dozens of state association meetings and network conventions, including Top Echelon and Splits.org. The Radin Report is published monthly.