Making the Best First Impression: The Resume

While we often are concerned about making a good impression in the business community, many people do not put the same amount of detailed attention into the impression that their resume will make on a hiring manager or recruiter.  Turnkey Search reviews thousands of resumes a year and we have found that it is deceivingly easy to make a small mistake in a resume, but extremely hard to change that first impression you have made on the person.  You want to make the most of the few seconds of attention you may have of a hiring manager, and by adhering to the following few simple rules, you will make the greatest impact possible on your audience:

“The Basics”

  • Make sure to remember all the lessons you learned in high school English: no spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or punctuation oversights.  Have another person proofread the resume: because you have written your resume and know what you are trying to portray with the content, it is better to get an outside check of the information to ensure that it not only reads well, but has no major errors that could automatically remove you from consideration for a position.
  • Use bulletpoints and phrases as opposed to full sentences; capture the reader’s attention with action verbs and then keep that attention with precise, focused examples of your experience.
  • You do not need an “objective” on your resume.  Your objective of obtaining the specific job is implied with the application, and you can better use that space on your resume for more relevant content.
  • The days of a one-page resume are over.  Unless you have less than three-to-five years of work experience, it is ok to have the resume over one page.
  • Do not include personal information: age, marital status, family situations, etc.  They are not relevant as they do not show a company how you can help further their business goals.
  • Do not write “references available upon request” – it is implied in your application for employment.
  • Your college GPA is most likely not relevant and should not be included on a resume.  The only exception would be if you are applying for an entry-level job and your GPA is 3.5 or higher.  Otherwise, it does not provide a big enough benefit to your application to include.

Responsibilities vs. Achievements

People often make the mistake of simply duplicating their job description instead of highlighting major accomplishments on your resume.  What results did you produce as a function of your assigned duties?  Ask yourself, “What am I most proud of over the course of my tenure at this company?”  Those “major wins” are what a resume is all about.


When writing your resume, you want to try to provide as much quantifiable evidence of your success and contributions to the organization as possible.  Whether in sales, finance, marketing or human resources, every job function provides a measurable benefit to the organization in some way: you may not be able to put a percentage, cost saving or revenue number to every bulletpoint on your resume, but it is important to show a marked affect on the company and its profitability, efficiency or savings.


Keep the design of your resume and use of fonts relatively simple.  Feel free to try to express yourself instead of a “stock” resume, but don’t go over the top.  If the reader is visually pulled to too many things on your resume, it will be harder to focus them on the true content of the resume and why you would be a great fit to the position.

Chronological vs. Functional Resumes

Always provide a chronological resume, unless you are completely changing industries or career paths.  Functional resumes deemphasize career progression and often are presumed to be used by those that are trying to hide gaps in their resumes.  Resumes need to have companies, dates and titles listed: if this information is not provided, the reader will assume the writer is trying to conceal something about the past.

One-Size-Fits-All vs. Targeted Resumes

When you are applying for a position, make sure to cater the resume to the major needs of the organization and position.  A Director of Marketing at one company might need a completely different skill set than a Director of Marketing elsewhere, so make sure that your resume highlights the parts of your experience that best match the specific position.  Do research into the organization, what they’ve done in the past, and what they’re looking to accomplish moving forward to make sure that your skill set is a match to the position and your resume reflects specific examples to address those needs.



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