To resolve this, Van Vreede created a header at the top of the summary section. This piece makes it clear to potential employers the level of work that Montgomery is looking for. "It frames the whole document so they understand what it is he is going for and how they should be considering him," says Van Vreede.
6. Don't Try to 'Teach Them All'
Career specialist Roy J. West was impressed with the breadth and depth of Bobby Saxon's experience, but condensing a 25-year military and IT career into a reasonable format was tough, West says.
"We reduced it from 'the course of his life' to a summary. I personally have never been a big proponent of cutting a resume short unnecessarily," West says, but in this case it was necessary.
"[Saxon's] first response was dismay because I had taken so many of his extraordinary credentials off the page," West says. "I had reduced the details that, in his mind, demonstrated the sheer complexity of what he had to navigate in order to create the amazing results he had delivered," but sometimes that's crucial, West says.
West felt that many in the civilian world would respect Saxon's military service but wouldn't necessarily understand the magnitude of his accomplishments. "Trying to provide a resume in such detail that you teach them all, that is not the solution. Your best chance, your only chance, is in the job interview not on your resume," says West.
7. Ace the 20 Second Test
Can your resume pass the "20 second test"? Most recruiters scanning your resume give it approximately 20 seconds. If you don't grab them within that time frame, you're history.
Pamela Rucker, president of The Rucker Group, a C-Suite advisory organization, and co-chair of the CIO Council's Executive Women in IT, was tasked with helping Michele Franchi determine why her resume wasn't getting the attention it deserved.
First impressions are usually all you get and Rucker could tell there was room for improvement with Franchi's resume. "For me, it didn't pass the 20-second test. Michele has 20 years of experience, and probably only 20 seconds to get past a recruiter's review. Moreover, even if the recruiter was sitting right beside me, I'd have a stack of resumes to review in our meeting. I probably wouldn't give her resume more than two minutes and that's if I was interested in it," says Rucker.
8. Don't Be Wordy
Make sure you're using clear, succinct language and highlighting the skills relevant to the positions to which you're applying.
Resume writer and career coach Laura Smith-Proulx found Michael Smith's wordy resume too dense. She first made a few changes, adding what she likes to refer to as the "technology career milestones," or summary section. This, Smith-Proulx says, really gives the hiring manager a quick snapshot of what the candidate is all about.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.