Monday, January 15, 2007

Black and White and Never Read: How to Make Your Resume Stand Out

My favorite riddle when I was young was "What's black and white and red (read) all over?--a newspaper of course". You want your resume to be read thoroughly by anyone who glances at it. Unfortunately, most resumes are boring and easy to pass over. I read over 20 resumes every day, so here's my tips on making a good resume that recruiters and hiring managers will read, and that will be noticed. (This morning I just read a great resume advice piece in the Wall Street Journal by Dana Mattioli. For those with a subscription, please visit

First, always put your name, address, phone number--including cell phone and voicemail numbers. And everyone should have an email address on their resume. Seems simple, but I get plenty of resumes with no contact info besides a home address.

Next, put a summary section that states what your talents, experience and accomplishments are. This should be fairly short for an entry-level individual, and 5-8 sentences long for exerienced job seekers.

Then a chronologic listing of your job history is always the best bet. Put your most recent position at the top, oldest at the bottom. If you have switched between industries or areas, put the most relevent jobs in a section defined as say, Wine Sales Experience. Then list that experience. Later put Retail Sales Experience and list those jobs. And don't list unrelated old jobs, such as Cattlemen's Bean Girl, or Parking Attendent, part-time. Everyone has had to take odd jobs, but these don't sell your current professional work self.

A resume is a sales/marketing tool. You want to represent yourself in your best light on your resume. Think like hiring managers. If they want a winery sales professional, they want to see that on the resume. If you did indeed sell in the wine industry, put it down. Always represent your dates of employment, job titles and education accurately.

Always list your education, as long as it's post high school. If you took classes, list them. If you have your Associates degree, list it. Of course list your Bachelor's, Master's and Juris Doctorate. I have known Ph.D.'s to not list that degree to prevent being rejected as over qualified, but I'm not sure if this helps them.

Now this is all pretty basic--and if everyone does this all resumes will look the same. First of all, many people don't follow these basic guidelines and their resumes are hard to understand. Second of all, within your job experience you need to list your duties. Use action words and always pay attention to verb tense. And of course, check your spelling. Attention to detail is very important in many jobs, and a resume should be the first example of your's.

So how do you "kick it up a notch"?

  • Use simple fonts and keep the size at about 11 or 12 pt. No recruiter will spend a long time squinting at a hard to read resume.
  • Make sure all your formatting is consistent--titles bold, sections underlined, etc.
  • Keep your information concise--bulleted lists of accomplishments, duties, responsibilities are very good.
  • Use color for listing websites, company names, email. Using tags in your email resume allow the reader to link to your website, email or blog
  • Keep it to 1 page for entry to 7 years of experience, 2 pages for experienced individuals.
  • Show some of your personality in your resume. If you're creative, emphasis it. If you're fascinated with Italian wine varietals, talk about it.

Consistency is key, but a few small details can make your resume the first one I choose to call.


Unknown said...

Your blog reads well. It's lively, bright and intelligent. I found it through the recent reference on Tom Warks's Fermentation. I'm considering linking your blog on my site. I get quite a few inquiries about wine industry careers and I think a link and a post would serve some of my readers well (especially those infatuated/obsessed with the California wine scene). I have'nt been over to WineTalent so excuse my lack of research but here's the question anyways - do you handle international clients (non-U.S. citizens?) Good luck and keep blogging.

Amy said...

Bradley, thanks for the messge. Please do link me on your site. In regards to what type of searches I do, the majority are California, but I do some international searches as well. I'll hop over to your site now.

Fermented Thoughts said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hi Amy-
I also found your blog through Tom Wark's Fermentation site.
As someone who works in an completely unrelated industry (banking), and has been considering a career change for a few years now, I face many of the issues common to my situation. The 'Why?' question is easy to answer, and I'll eventually get over the inevitable drop in salary. What I have a hard time with is convincing potential employers that my background and experience outside the wine industry shouldn't eliminate me from consideration. Having the passion, being well-read, and certificiate from WSET only gets me so far, given that I haven't worked a single day in the wine trade.
Can you offer any thoughts on ways to overcome this obstacle?
Thanks very much, and keep up the good work on the blog.

Amy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

Thanks for your comments. I sent you an earlier message, so hope you got it. Your banking experience can be very relevant for a winery that is dealing with funding, investors and similar situations. Also many financial/accounting positions exist that you may find interesting. Many companies will consider someone with a fresh perspective of the wine industry, but just as many need someone with industry experience. It takes some time, but patience and persistence pay off.