Saturday, February 20, 2010

Resume Tips: Your Name

This is pretty basic, but it actually comes up more often than one would think.  When submitting your resume either by email, or as an attachment as a part of an online application, you need to keep in mind that not only will one or more people take a look at it, that resume is more than likely going to be stored online in a resume database of some sort.  Sometimes, in addition to submititng your resume, you will be asked to complete a variety of fields which include basics like name, address, and phone number.  However, some systems have the ability to grab that information off of your resume, provided you help them at least a little.

Keep it simple.  Put your name in bold at the top of your resume.  It can be centered, or justified to one side or the other.  That doesn't really matter.  The key is to make it easy for the software to find it.

A few common pitfalls which can confuse software include the following:

Text Boxes:  Many resume databases don't have a mechanism for incorporating the contents of text boxes into the data that they grab.  Therefore, if your name is front and center, at the top of a resume where it should be, but in a text box, it might get missed.  Just this week, a woman sent me such a resume.  It was beautiful... Very well written ... Nicely laid out.  When my software grabbed it though, and I looked at the summary of her contact information, the software had decided that her name was: Profile.

In my case, I do my best to check every resume that gets entered into my system.  Imagine though that your resume is going intot he database of one of those search firms that runs lots of phantom openings.  (They look like openings, but they aren't real.)  They have sucked in several hundred resumes int he past few days and some admin assistant has clicked on abutton and processed them all intot he database.  You call a few days later:

(You) - Hello, this is Sandy Jones.  I'm calling about my resume....
(Recruiter)  - I don't see a Sandy Jones in our database...

It's a problem that the recruiter can easily fix.  Let's say though that you didn't follow up, and the mistake wasn't spotted.  Several months later, a hiring manager who you have networked with calls the recruiter.

(Manager) Could you pull up the resume of Sandy Jones?  I'd like to have a look at it...
(Recruiter)  I don't see anyone in our database with that name.  Maybe she emailed her resume to the wrong address.  That happens from time to time.
(Manager)  Hmmm.  OK.  Well, here's the type of person I need. ...  Please see if you can turn up some candidates for me.

And you have just missed out on an opportunity.

Headers: Placing your name in a header seems like a good way of saving space.  However, some systems don't read headers when looking for contact information either.  Additionally, resumes often get reviewed without being printed out.  Sometimes people will have their word processor set so that the headers and footers don't even show up. 

My pet peeve as a recruiter is that when I submit a candidate to a client, I include my company logo in the header.  A resume that is formatted to look "right" with the name and contact information in the header generally requires some time and effort on my part to get it looking right again when I have to pull the name out and insert it into the text of the resume.  ... All the more problematic if a candidate has created a resume using tables in the body of the resume.  (Another pet peeve.)

Alphabet Soup:  Ever see a name at the top of a resume like this? 

Jon Jones, MBA, PhD, PMP, CCNA, UGI, CDC,PVC, NBA

Alphabet soup at the end of the name can screw up the identification of your name.  More importantly, it actually can be viewed as a negative by many people.  Some think that if you're really that good, you don't need to compensate by adding all the acronyms to your name.  Some think it's a sign that you're pretentious or arrogant.  Some will see the PhD in particular, and think you're an academic .... That you're not geared for the rough and tumble world of corporate America. 

My personal feeling is that when you're really good, you don't need acronyms listed at the end of your name.  You can and should list all of your certifications and qualifications on your resume.  It's just a questions of how they are presented.

S P A C I N G:

Every blue moon, I see a name on a resume that looks like this:

B E A U R E G A R D  Q.  P E R I W I N K L E

Simply put, when you add a space between all of the letters of your name, it makes it impossible for most software applications to accurately parse out your name.  Regardless of how good you think it looks, it's not a good idea.