I recently went through the process of hiring an employee (our team is growing!). Previously I had hired people based on recommendations but this time I decided to open up the application process and put up a few posts online about the vacancy; almost instantly resumes starting coming in. The response rate was higher than expected so my decision to leave the applications flowing in for about a week before starting to review them turned out to be a mistake, but it also helped because by reviewing the applications in fewer sittings I was more or less consistent with my standards.
Admittedly I was a little strict with my selection criteria. If an applicant didn’t submit a cover letter, as the job posting explicitly stated, their application was deleted. Applied directly through Facebook Jobs instead of emailing your information as requested? Application ignored. As a writer I also have a number of pet peeves that were poked at by the applications but I had to reel it back in and remember to focus on what really mattered.
Another criteria that I used to narrow down the list of potentials was the length of a resume. I understand that when you're applying for a job you want to show off as much of your experience as possible, but if a top executive in his/her forties can fit their resume onto two pages, I don't see why someone with 3 years work experience needs ten.
People usually think I'm joking about receiving ten page resumes, but I kid you not, I actually received resumes that were that long. If you've read our blog post Quantity ≠ Quality you may already have an idea of why this could likely land you in the rejection pile. People who are hiring have to go through hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications, they simply do not have the time to read lengthy resumes. The responses I received weren't even close to being in the triple digits and I still didn't have that kind of time on my hands.
When you're writing your resume keeping it short doesn't mean you’re short selling yourself. Whatever job you're applying for is looking for specific experience and skills so tailor your application to that and only include what's relevant. And don't just recite what you did day to day, tell the employer about actual achievements. Pretty much all employers want someone who will bring results so make sure you show that through your resume. If the results can be quantified even better, don't be afraid to boast a little.
A huge part of effective writing is being able to communicate your message as concisely as possible. You can be the most talented candidate in a pool but end up being overlooked not because someone else is better than you but because someone else just got to the point. No one is so important that they need a ten page resume, and if they are they probably won’t need a resume to prove it.