Resume Writing – Take Your Time and Do it Right

While I was a Test Manager on one of my previous projects, the estimates for completing the required work was much higher than I had room for in my schedule.  There were no internal resources available so I had to look externally.  We put the word out to local and national contracting companies and were forwarded resumes of available individuals.

The first thing I noticed about these resumes was overall they were in pretty bad shape.  I had read the first couple of resumes from start to finish as I was intrigued to be on the hiring side of this process.  However, as time passed and the busier I got, I had less time to review these resumes.  The ones that did catch my eye were those that were formatted in a presentable, easy to read manner.

Things like using white space to appease the eye, grouping together common areas and putting the applicants name in the header or footer of each page.  Another issue that I couldn’t help but notice was that most didn’t have the pages numbered.  During an interview (especially with a phone interview), the interviewer is constantly flipping pages this way and that in order to find the gold nuggets that will lead him/her to asking pertinent questions that will hopefully lead to hiring the individual.  This usually results in an out of order resume which becomes time consuming to sort based on the content of the document alone.

Length is a factor as well.  There were a few resumes that I looked through (or should I say quickly glanced at) that were 12 pages in length, no white space and 8 point font!  Too much information!  It’s good to try to sell yourself but don’t risk someone not reading your information just because it will take too long to go through (and they might fall asleep while reading it).

I was astonished at how many spelling mistakes and typos there were as well.  This is a document that is all about first impressions.  Take my example above.  I am hiring for a testing position and if the applicant cannot even notice simple spelling mistakes in their own document, how are they going to notice errors while testing?

Another area that I always find interesting is the optional section that some individuals include which relates to personal activities and/or interests.  From the hiring side of things, I find it interesting to know what they like to do, but personally it has never come into the equation of hiring or not hiring someone.  There are the extreme cases whereby if an individual lists 20 things that they are interested in and if the job requires overtime, that individual may not have the time (or the desire) to work the overtime, leading you to steer away from this individual.

So remember that it’s not only the content in your resume that counts.  Take the time to properly format your work.  Use white space appropriately and check the spelling and grammer.  And don’t forget to number those pages!  Doing this will help your resume stand out from the dozens or sometimes even hundreds of resumes that some poor individual will have to try to stay awake reading in order to choose the best candidate.


About brianwawryk
PMP and Prince2 certified project manager.

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