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Solid resumes are all about content and value you can bring future employers

Unless your resume quickly shows the value you can bring a future employer, it may go straight from the employer's hands into a circular file.
Unless your resume quickly shows the value you can bring a future employer, it may go straight from the employer's hands into a circular file.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Occasional "contrarian" trends related to the guidelines for developing effective resumes come and go, get revived, regurgitated, recycled and ultimately rejected.

Some career coaches and consultants think an "out of the box" approach is best of utilizing a functional resume, that highlights skill sets and past job activities without emphasizing and even trying to camouflage the individual's career chronology. Others think your resume literally has to look like a marketing document, such as a brochure or "leave-behind" piece, with colors and artwork. Still others contend it's about the paper it's put on or the way it's delivered (e.g. by express mail, by courier, fax or (god forbid) an in-person drop-off.

If there is an employer out there who has ever hired someone because the candidate had the prettiest resume, submitted it on the most impressive paper, or loved the document's pattern or design, my guess is that hiring manager was in a design, marketing communications, advertising or creative visual business. That may be a great approach in some of those instances.

All the rest....is just so much window dressing.

However, in some seven years of recruiting and career consulting following 20 years of evaluating resumes as a public relations manager and sometimes agency vice president I can never recall a single hiring decision made by an employer that was founded primarily upon the design, paper, art work, margins or aspects peripheral to the individual's skills, capabilities, experience and/or education and training.

The fluff won’t get you anywhere

The reason for that is, employers who are hiring business managers, accountants, engineers, scientists and researchers, sales people, technology specialists and a wide range of other professions are generally not interested in fluff. They are looking for professionals who have the expertise to come in and get the job done, plain and simple. If your resume doesn't help prove your capabiliites or make a compelling case for why you should be hired, then you will not be the candidate who gets to the table (i.e. gets invited for an interview).

Remember this, it's all about your resume getting you in the door for that all-impotant face-to-face interview. That's the entire objective of a resume. The truth of the matter is, none of the above alternative methods are as effective percentage wise than the time-proven, historically most successful -- the reverse chronological approach. In some 30 years of following the trends, viewing thousands of resumes, and writing and rewriting several hundreds of others in the course of my work as a career coach and recruiter, it is overwhelmingly apparent that there is one unifying, overarching theme to what makes for a good resume.

• It's all about the value that you can bring to a potential employer based upon your specific skill sets, experience and past accomplishments.

All the rest, my friends, is just so much window dressing. It doesn't matter what color paper you use (though nothing really beats white or some shade of white) or the type of paper you produce it on. Even the font you select -- Times Roman or Helvetica are probably the most common -- pales in significance to the content that you provide about what you have done, where you did it and the impact that your efforts provided to the overall business goals of your company or organization.

The resume is the ticket

You have to get in the door before you have a chance to get hired. If your resume is not getting you there, it's time to rethink it and revamp your approach. It could be that you are holding back your own career by relying on an ineffective, unimpressive written presentation of your work history.

Editor’s note: At least once a month, this edition of the Examiner will continue to focus on the many nuances of developing your career history document, to ensure that you maximize your chances of getting that seat at the table. In the next installment of our resume writing series, slated for Jan. 18, this section of the Examiner will look at some of the key rules of thumb for writing a resume.
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