I’ve heard it from almost every recruiter I talk to, “I only read the top half of the first page…if I’m not impressed by it, I’ll toss the resume and go to the next one.” Or more recently, “I need just a quick glance…if the resume is ugly, I don’t even read it; if it’s not ugly, it has 10 seconds to impress me.” Brutal! Cold! But that’s the way it is with many recruiters that have to shuffle through 100s of resumes to find the 3 or 4 people they want to interview for a single position.
What do you need to have on your resume “above the fold” on the first page to keep it from being tossed? I’ll highlight each of the 4 key sections (Contact, Objective, Summary, and Current Job) in separate posts. Let’s start with Contact information:
Across the top of the page are the obligatory contact information details. The specific way these items are placed on the page doesn’t seem to affect recruiters much. I prefer this info to be centered, but left or right justified both look fine – just make it clear, attractive and easy to read. I like to make the font of these items to be a point or two larger than the text of the resume (14 is good) with your name using a larger, bolded font (16 or 18 is good).
- Name: First and Last name only — save your full, formal name for job applications. If you have a “normal” nick name that you go by, such as “Bill” or “Liz”, (not “Dog” or “Meatball”) then you may use it on the resume. In fact, if you have a rather challenging first name, like a man I know with the Irish name “Donagh”, it’s a lot simpler for him to just go by “Don”.
- Address: In these days of identity theft some people are choosing to not put their street address on a resume. That’s probably OK since most recruiters prefer to contact you by phone or e-mail. Just make sure to list your city and state so they know if you’re a local or not.
- E-mail: Get an e-mail address specifically for your job hunt (from Yahoo, Google, or other places) and check it daily. Pick a professional username with your last name embedded in it, such as Smith_B@gmail.com.
- Phone: List your cell phone. This is the phone that you are most likely to answer and make sure you have a professional message on your voicemail. Always answer the phone politely for all caller IDs you don’t recognize!
That’s it. Keep it clean. If you have a really sharp, dynamic web site, then you can add a url to your contact info if you want to…but I personally think this should go on a cover letter.
Quick note. If you have a multi-page resume, make sure your name and phone number are at the top or bottom of each additional page, just in case the pages get separated.
Bottom Line: Above the fold you have contact info, objective line, summary, and probably your current job info. The contact details needs to be clear & minimal with at least 2 ways you can be reached. We’ll get to the other above-the-fold items in a later post.