How Long Should a Resume Be?
This is probably the most frequently asked question I receive – and one of the most important.
Your resume should be as short as possible and the key points you wish to emphasize should stand out clearly. Remember you are not writing a book! Imagine for a moment you are looking through the Yellow Pages for a particular business (perhaps a Resume Writing Consultant!) You want to see quickly and easily the key points offered by each advertiser. No doubt you scan down the advertisements quickly, looking for key words and phrases. Your resume needs to be the same, perhaps just two pages and a brief covering letter. Key points and competencies need to be clear and easy to read.
Recruitment Agencies and Recruitment Managers can only allocate a few scant minutes to scan a resume, such is the deluge of applications they are receiving for each new role advertised.
Worse still they may not even turn to the second page if the information on the first page is not clear and easy to absorb.
Do You Really Need a Cover Letter?
Do you really need a cover letter? Is it important?
Yes it most certainly is. And you need the correct type of cover letter. With the wrong format and copy it can actually work against you!
In many instances a Recruitment Manager uses the cover letter as a gauge as to whether to even spend his/her time reading your resume!
The shorter your letter (maximum 300 words) the better chance of it being read and considered and the more confident you will appear up front.
(please refer to my very special added benefit re cover letters!)
Photo or No Photo?
A tricky one. And your own Personal choice.
However from my own experience I always looked favorably on those resumes that included a photo – I felt I “knew” the candidate a little better. Many of my colleagues felt the same. I like photos on a resume.
My suggestion, if you decide to go with a photo, is to add a few guidelines.
Firstly not a photo of you with your dog or cat! Not a photo of you with your new car!
(yes believe me these do happen) Secondly I suggest biting the bullet and having a professional photo taken which can be attached to a soft copy of a resume. Head and shoulders, in an appropriate setting, suiting the role for which you are applying. Passport size of course. Look at this as an investment in your future and new career.
If You Have Not Heard Back Should You Contact the Company or Recruitment Agency?
Sadly at this time many worthwhile applicants hear nothing back at all. It is as if their carefully thought out application disappeared into a black hole. They are left wondering if the Company actually received their application, or if they are still considering their application, or if they have been passed over. From my own experience if you have not heard back within the week, then unfortunately you have been passed over, and it is important that you don’t lose heart at this stage. With several hundred people applying for the same role it just not possible to respond those applicants who were not successful.
However if you feel you need to follow up then do this graciously and in an elegant way. A short email, a brief phone call, (leave a voice mail if you have to)
Communicate that if you have not been successful in this case, you would appreciate them keeping your resume for any other suitable roles and wish them success in their business moving forward. This sets you apart and leaves a favourable impression for any new opportunities.
Should You Add References With Your Initial Application?
Yes. However since you are keeping your resume brief and hard hitting you don’t want to clutter it up with detailed references. However it is vital that you indicate at the end of your resume – “References available on Request”. This helps you stand out from the crowd, so to speak. It confirms you do have references, and therefore adds to your credibility.