Will Your Resume Make the Cut? (Part 1)

A few years back, I was put in charge of finding qualified candidates for a job where I worked. Once we placed the ad on Craigslist, we began receiving resumes. We didn’t receive 5, or 10, or even 50 – we received upwards of 250 resumes and cover letters the first day. Thinking this would be an easy, Friday-afternoon-listening-to-NPR-on-my-headphones job, I was completely overwhelmed by the response. Where should I start? At first glance, they all looked qualified.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is when I employed a tactic that I seldom use, professionally or personally:

I became brutally critical.

Typo in the first paragraph? Resume is in the trash. Too small a font size? Buh-bye! Repeated and redundant information? Not a chance!

I was left with – get this – 10 resumes. 10 out of 250! Would your resume be one of the 10, or one of the 240 victims?

For Part 1 of this 2-part installment, I’ll tell you what mistakes those other 240 job-seekers made that resulted in their resumes being discounted forever:

1). Typos: Make sure there are no typos in your resume. Since you’re human, and you’ve probably been staring at the same text for hours, you’ll probably miss a few errors. Get a second (and third, if possible) set of eyes to proofread your resume.

2). Font Size: If you have a long resume and want to shorten it, you may want to make your font as small as humanly possible. Resist this urge, do some editing, and keep your font size to 10 (or 9.5 if you must) at the very smallest. On the other side of things, don’t make it bigger than 10.5 or 11. 12 and up will look like you’re trying to fill space.

3). Consistency: Make sure your formatting is the same throughout the whole document – check your bullets, your spaces, your font face and your tab stops.

So now you’ve made the cut – you’re one of the 10 resumes I’ve kept. Now what? Who gets the interview? Stay tuned for Part 2…


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