I look at a lot of resumes, it is a hazard of the industry I guess, and some of the worst are the ones that people have had done professionally. Yep, they paid someone a lot of money to tell them who they are and how they should present themselves to the rest of the world. They are stilted in their tone, some I honestly think I have seen before but with a different name on the top, and many are just so wordy and glowing that if I were to meet the person I would expect their walking surface to be water!
Now I am not saying that all professional resume writers are bad, on the contrary, what I am saying is there are few good ones. IMHO if you want the best resume money can buy, write it yourself and then ask as many people who know you well, both personally and professional, and who will give you their time, to review it. Let them rip it wide open, give any and all comments and input and then take it all, digest it and go at it again. Resumes are not made in a day. They take a village. They are a work in progress.
The other thing about resumes that many people don't know is that you will and should have more than one version. I was talking to a guy today who has a great background in software, medical devices, manufacturing, and music. He should have a resume that is slanted toward each one of these areas. That's right, four resumes. Each one would highlight what he has done in the past in that specific area and in doing that will surely catch the eye of a hiring manager, recruiter, or an applicant tracking system (ATS's are used by many mid to larger companies to find and track talent coming in to their organization. The most notable would be Taleo). All three of these gatekeepers are looking for the resume that best fits their criteria for both culture and experience. Yep. that is right. You might even have another resume or another version of each of the previous four. If you missed it, like any Google search, ATS systems use a ranking system that pulls you to the top of the pile if you have more key words in your resume than I do. So, read the job description you are applying for and make sure your previous experience highlights hit what they are looking for. You are more likely to hear the phone ring of get an email if you do.
The other question I get a lot is how long should my resume be? I always answer a very succinct, that depends. If you have several years of experience then 3-4 pages is not too long. If you are just out of school, then your education will be at the top of the page under a brief summary about you and your resume will be about a page or a page and a half at best. If you have patents and publications, they should be attachments and often times available upon request. Focusing on having your resume a set number of pages at the expense of leaving out great, necessary information is the wrong focus and will ensure you are not at the top of the coveted ATS list.
Well, since it is a sunny day in Seattle and those are few and far between in March, I am headed out to collect some vitamin D and I hope if you are looking for your next professional adventure you are staying close to the computer and the keys are flying!