The credible resumé

ImageResumé writing has become a business. And there are many conflicting guidelines about what constitutes a good resumé. Opinions vary greatly on what information should be included, how it should be presented, and what purposes it serves.

For PrintLink, a company specializing in printing-industry-specific recruitment, resumés function foremost as guidelines for further discussion of a candidate's experience and objectives. Yet all too often we see resumés that emphasize the wrong things. Instead of offering us an inviting introduction to the person the resumé represents, it becomes an obstacle that can diminish the candidate's eligibility. Often it is only through detailed discussion with candidates that we can resolve such roadblocks and avoid eliminating potentially valuable employees out of hand.
The information that follows in this and next month's column will give readers some insights into what we look for specifically in a resumé and what it tells us about the candidate who provided it.

Length tied to purpose
A good working definition of a resumé is: "A short account of one's career and qualifications prepared typically by an applicant for a position."

Succinct presentation is key, since statistics show that the first reading of a resumé typically takes 10 seconds. Because personnel is our core business and candidates are our inventory, we do take longer to evaluate a resumé. Yet the 10-second rule for a first reading still applies to us as well: any additional time we take is generally for re-reading.

It follows that the resumé must be a document that enables anyone to assimilate the information on it quickly. For this reason we prefer a resumé length that is just long enough to serve its purpose but not so long that it becomes autobiographical.

Format: easy-to-read text only
Some candidates feel it is important to include graphics, especially for a visual-based industry. However, when we archive and distribute electronic files supplied by candidates, we find that their graphics rarely convert or print well and can get in the way of the real message—the facts on their resumé.

Therefore, for pragmatic reasons, we prefer that candidates' resumés consist of text only. We still receive occasional fax submissions, but most resumés now come to us electronically as e-mail attachments. We specify that the attachments should be supplied in either Word for PC, Rich Text, or PDF formats. We, in turn, provide PDF documents to our clients.

The most important thing is that the information provided in candidates' files should be legible both on a monitor and on paper, so we recommend the use of simple, tried-and-true type fonts, such as Times New Roman, Helvetica, or Arial, in a legible size.

Some candidates still like to deliver hard copies of their documents on good-quality colored or textured stock. But this embellishment complicates the process of electronic archiving. For resumés submitted on paper, plain white paper is the new rule.

Cautionary signals

Typos and misspelling always tell a story. Although their cause may vary from person to person, they never fail to raise a concern.

Additionally, for a big industry, printing is a small one, and it is relatively easy for candidates to be caught by inaccuracies on their resumé. So we encourage them to be as accurate as possible with the information they relay.

A poll of recruiters and hiring managers by the Resumé Doctor notes the following most common misleading information on resumés:
• inflated titles
• inaccuracies or inflated information regarding specific roles and duties
• inaccurate dates to cover up job hopping or gaps in employment
• inflated educational background
• inflated salaries
• inflated accomplishments

For the most part, we find that candidates give us sincere accounts of their career paths. Because we are an independent third party, they will often confide in us and enlist our assistance in handling any tricky issues in their background appropriately with prospective employers. Often in such cases, we try to cover off any points of concern in the confidential summary we provide to employers along with each resumé.

But still we have seen it happen: a candidate registers with us, submits a resumé, and gets archived into our system. Then six months to a year later the same person comes back to us with a completely different resumé!

Content is so crucial to a successful resumé that next month we'll devote an entire column to the subject.•

Victoria Gaitskell is a placement specialist with PrintLink, a professional placement firm for the graphic communications industry.
T: 1 877 413-2600 E: