Resume Update 2011 - Part 1

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • What are the new trends in resumes?
  • Should I follow the new trends in resumes?
  • How should I change my resume this year?

This cast updates our resume guidance for 2011.

Every year since our original resume guidance we have issued an update - giving more information about market conditions and changes we're seeing in resumes. The basics -resumes need to be one page, tell the reader what you did and how well you did it - will never change. However, there are plenty of places other than Career Tools talking about changes in the 'fashions' of resumes, and in this cast, we'll address some of those.

This cast is by turns the most fun and the most frustrating cast we write all year. Wendii and Mark spend the year emailing each other the BAD, BAD, TERRIBLE guidance they find and are sent, and the WORSE-THAN-YOU-CAN-IMAGINE resumes they are sent. You know when something is so bad, it's funny - that's the fun bit. Then we realize that people, smart people, people who have something to contribute are reading that guidance and producing those resumes, and we get incredibly frustrated we can't reach more people more quickly.

Our list of bad guidance we've seen is longer than ever this year - partly because the web encourages volume. Since we can't spend the rest of the year debunking resume guidance, this cast contains our top 4. Avoid these mistakes, and you'll be doing better than 80% your competition.

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This is awesome, except 1 thing

 This is awesome, and I admit that after listening to this 2 part series I both a) started updating my resume even though I'm not leaving my job anytime soon and b) changed the format considerably after listening to Mark & Mike's advice.

There's 1 thing that Mike & Mark have horribly wrong here, and that's the idea that Microsoft Word is still the standard for resumes.  Granted I work for IBM and we make a competing product, but I'm not going to recommend Lotus SmartSuite either.

Their reasoning is perfectly sound.  Resume systems are ancient and on all these new devices you never know what you're going to see.  They're new and have bugs (like all new software does).  But the conclusion is wrong - it's because of these things that you should choose PDF.  For example, if you want to work at IBM, your resume has an 90% chance of going straight in the trash if it's in Word 2007 or 2011.  If it's 2003 you have a fighting chance, since most everybody has something that can convert.   There's no PDF 2.0 because that's the whole point of PDF: it never changes.  It's been the same for 20 years (yes, longer than any recent Word format).  Think about it - if the resume system is 10 years old, it won't work with Word 2003 or later.

Also, as a former programmer I can tell you that PDF is much easier to get right.  PDF has had a public, freely available specification for 10 years and in 2008 became an ISO standard.  There's a specification that tells you exactly how to display different things.  With MS Word, you have to reverse engineer it.  You create something, and then look at it in different versions of Word and then decide which one yours should look like.  Yes, the same doc looks different even among different versions of Word.

Mark & Mike are right that resume systems do convert all resumes to an internal format.  That internal format is most often PDF.  So your resume in Word is getting converted to PDF anyways, and probably poorly because nobody really knows how Word works.

One last knock against Word: your resume might show up on the recruiter's machine as having a virus, even though you didn't knowingly put anything strange in it.  That's because you might have a plugin / program installed that inserted a macro and changed the security policy on your machine to be okay with that macro.  This happened to me 12 years ago in college and seriously hurt my job hunt until one kind recruiter finally told me.

Regardless of that, this is a fantastic podcast that everybody who serious about their career should listen to.  Thank you Mark/Mike/Wendii.


P.S.  Even the sample resume you provided is in PDF.   BTW, that sample was very useful. Thank you.