The resume is the most important document any job seeker could have. It has the potential to grab a recruiter's attention, communicate your accomplishments, and expose your personality. On the other hand, it has the potential to completely miss the mark, and get skipped over. This one single document could make or break your chances at getting an interview (phone or in-person). And generally speaking, a recruiter looks at your resume for 5-10 seconds before deciding if they're going to actually read it or toss it in the "no" pile.
I've had the opportunity to be on both sides of recruiting: I've sent out resumes hoping they wow someone, and I've also been in charge of screening resumes to fill vacant positions. The most eye opening has been looking at dozens of other people's resumes. I've spent countless hours editing my resume, but never had the opportunity to compare it to any one else’s--I didn't know how I stood.
Throughout the screening processes I've been a part of, I've learned incredibly valuable information regarding resumes:
The number one most important thing I’ve learned is to make your resume stand out! Make the font a little different, add a small graphic, make it creative. In screening resumes I actually put an individual who wasn’t qualified for the job in the “read” pile because it was visually appealing. She made it to the reading stage before being tossed into the “no” pile, but she got more consideration nonetheless.
List out the accomplishments. Seriously, actually list them. No one wants to read a paragraph to find out what you accomplished—there’s not enough time. People who didn’t have bullet points for each job got slid to the back of the pile and were considered last. I didn’t want to read paragraph after paragraph to see if they were qualified (I did read them, but it was at the very end).
Quantify what you’ve done, and make sure it’s meaningful. If I see a resume and there’s one bullet point of a task that was done I automatically think, “This person didn’t do anything in this job.” Then, they were tossed in a “no” pile.
Lastly, and equally important is to relate your accomplishments and roles to the position being applied for. I’ve seen resumes that were 4+ pages, with employment dates of 1998 or earlier (at a Wendy’s). You’re applying for a professional position; I don’t need to know that you took orders almost 20 years ago. Recruiters don’t have time to read that far back.
If this was TL;
DR, here’s a brief recap: recruiters don’t have a lot of time to look over your resume. This means you need to make yours stand out, easy to read, and ensure that your most relevant experience is on there (skip the early jobs, and focus on where you made an impact). A good rule of thumb is to keep it 1 page (2 at the very most), and ask yourself “does the recruiter need to know this.”