To understand what makes a resume effective, think of what it has to do. It has to attract the eye of a prospective employer, communicate why you're qualified, and tell something about who you are-inside of a minute's time!
When you've seen as many resumes as we have, you can compile a long list of misguided resumes that won't even get that minute. Five-page resumes, graphics with no graphics skills, sarcastic resumes-the list goes on, which is too bad, because it's not that hard to create a good resume, if you keep a few simple tips in mind. To further assist you, look at our examples too.
1) Keep it short. This will take some work and time. Rework it until it says as much as it can about you in the fewest possible words. One page is ideal, but if you have an extensive work history, you're justified in going on to a second page. Be sure to include a skills section.
2) Make it attractive. This is the "attract the eye" part. Attractive in the world of resumes equates to clean. You can achieve this by the judicious use of white space, headers, bold face, underlining and italics. You don't need more than that.
3) Tell a story. This is the story of your professional life. A prospective employer should be able to follow the thread of your career summary, and it should make sense. Detours are OK-some of us have at one time or another detoured into a different field-but in a resume, treat these like spice: you don't want too much of them. Leave out hobbies and interests. They won't help you.
4) Keep it focused. Keep a strong focus on your goals, incorporating parts of your background to illustrate them. A statement of your goals is one of the clearest indicators to a prospective employer of whether or not there might be a match. Listing relevant skills is also essential.
5) No mistakes, please! A resume with a mistake in it is a traveling billboard advertising your carelessness and inattention. Proofread it. And ask somebody else to proofread it. Watch for mistakes in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Check how the dates follow one another: does the chronology make sense? Account for every year, but months aren't always necessary.
6) Make it web friendly. You must take into account resume-scanning software. It will be looking for key words and skills (e.g.; JAVA, C#) that match the employer's job requirement. The more you list the keyword; the higher your ranking will be. Key skills should be listed in section(s) at the top of your resume, and in your jobs; but don't let them ruin your format.
7) Resume Examples. Take a look at the two linked resumes that include many of the tips mentioned above. The first resume, Bill Kline's, uses "bare boned" approach. It is extremely clean with tight formatting, including extensive white space that uses bullets to focus on key elements of his experience. The second resume, Joseph Ripa's, is much more detailed. It uses a paragraph format with a strong skills and summary section, which allows the reader to focus on key areas and then gives a broader portrayal. Both are attractive, resume scanner- and search engine- friendly, and tell a story. Depending on your preference, either style would work well for you.