Why the First Page of Your Resume Is So Important

You’ll see a lot of opinions pro and con about the length of your resume. Some people still swear by the one-page resume. Others talk about two pages max—it’s not a book.

I come down on the side of “as long as the resume needs to be to cover your career results over the last 10 years.” Now, not everyone will be in the workforce for 10 years, but if it’s three years and three pages on the resume, that’s great. It covers your career.

For those in the workforce for 30 years, it might take four to seven pages to cover the last 10 years. My personal resume is five pages long, and I have grey hair. For a reason.

Regardless of the total length, the first page of anyone’s resume is critically important.

Here’s why: your resume’s first page summarizes your job skills and business results, and it persuades the resume reader to read the rest of the document. That first page is the hook to get a manager to look closely at your work and be motivated to put you on the list for a phone interview.

Two-page resume? Seven-page resume? Meh. It’s what’s on the first page that will persuade the resume reader to sign you up for the phone interview. So, what must be there?

Your Contact Information

You’d be surprised how often this gets resumes thrown out: Missed phone numbers or email addresses. Really? Yes. Other goofs: An e-mail address that only a zombie would love, or too much information (marital status!).

A clean contact information area—including a good title for the file name of your resume—counts. It’s part of the first, and lasting, impression you’ll make.

Your Career Statement

Some call this the objective statement, but whatever you call it, just don’t label it. This is a paragraph of two or three sentences that describes what you uniquely bring to the work. Yes, you can be a “seasoned programmer” or “project manager,” but you have to add the kicker to show your specialty that you bring to the work.

Are you a software engineering person? Great. What kind? “… who specializes in financial programs oriented to retirement portfolios.” Very specific, and if you apply to that kind of a position, you’ll get noticed. The reader will want to read more.

Your Job Skill Listing

I’ve talked about this before: You need to list your job skills on the first page so that a resume reader or software algorithm can match your job skills to the skills on the job description. The more check marks, the more likely you are to get the phone interview.

Your Career Highlights

These are the top achievements in your career, whenever they happened, that demonstrate that your work produces business results for the job description you’re applying for.

This is not you applying for a project manager position and then describing your great successes as a software engineer. No. Project manager positions, project manager results.

What this section does on the first page is show the person reading your resume that you are producing good business results in your work. And every hiring manager wants someone who can help meet his or her business goals.

Bonus: A Recommendation from LinkedIn

In the end, companies want recommendations for your work. Why not look at those recommendations you’ve gotten on LinkedIn and copy and paste the best, most appropriate one into the first page of your resume? The recommendations are public, and using one in your resume supports your contention that you produce good work.

It’s the First Page

Do you see why the first page of a resume is so important and how this format helps you put your best work forward?

  • Job skills to check against the job description.
  • Objective that is laser-focused on the job application.
  • A public recommendation showing your value.
  • A list of business results you’ve already accomplished doing this work.
  • A clean, sure-fire way to contact you for that phone interview.

Makes me want to read the rest of your resume. And get you on that phone interview list.

What do you think?

Comments

  1. BY RobS says:

    Good advice that makes me want to review my resume and add more relevance to various parts!

    • BY Rich says:

      Try this – use a Google voice number for any public résumés, which forwards to your cell and which can be deleted when your job search is over. I also have a specific Gmail account for job related communication, and it attracts a lot of job scam spam.

  2. BY Steve Tabler says:

    With all the current data correlation being done by “big data”, I carefully limit what contact information I include on my resume depending on the circumstances. At Dice.com, I use the privacy settings which keep it hidden. If the resume is going up on my personal web site, then there will be some way of contacting me through the web site i.e. the resume would have my email address. Presumably, my name will be there too. My address information, and my telephone number, are only provided to specific parties on a need-to-know basis, and I have to be assured that they are who they say they are, which can be difficult at times to determine.

    In the past, I have been subjected to harassment via telelphone from various parties who I learned were even falsifying their caller-ID data as aome inducement to get me to answer….I caught one party using a name of “Walgreen’s Pharmacy” on 3 occasions, and they were not associated with Walgreen’s in any way and denied that their caller-ID information said otherwise.

    I did a search on my own name once, and found that there was a lot of erroneous information collected on me, and that I seem to share a similar name with several people. Some of the information was so bad that it was almost funny, like the source that said I was a millionaire. I am rambling, but I wanted you to know that my reluctance to disclose contact information is not arbitrary. The use of these data warehousing services to perform background checks is one of the things that is keeping people from being employed.

    • BY Scot Herrick says:

      Steve — good comment here. I agree on where you put what contact information causes actions to be taken. I personally have my phone number on the Dice resume, but have not experienced any issues with having it here. But I can easily see why having just an email address — and perhaps a specific job hunting email address — would make good sense.

      Once you walk into a face-to-face interview, though, I think the full contact information is the way to go.

  3. BY mark says:

    Quick criticism, maybe unfair, but the artwork above is an image of the critical FIRST PAGE with a huge RESUME taking up valuable real estate. The word itself is unnecessary. The hugeness even more so. However, I’m glad to see back tracking on the two decades of advice that a resume should supposedly only be 1 or at most 2 pages long. I knew that was ridiculous even then. So will I have to wait another two decades to find out that a lot of the supposed good advice of today is actually baloney?

    • BY Scot Herrick says:

      Mark — I certainly hope you won’t have to wait two decades to see the advice works. Go use it and find a new job if you are in a job search! I have clients who have used this advice and quickly turned their job search into an active, productive search resulting in multiple interviews and jobs.

      All the resume can do is get you the first interview. That is an important first step.

  4. BY Mike Boatright says:

    In response to your analysis, I have always used the following criteria, since in our society, if a hiring manager does not see what he /she is looking for on the first page, bold, flush left, in three places on the 1st page, they are moving on to the next candidate. Bold the important technical word segments identified in the job posting so they can’t miss it, flush left as most managers are too busy to read across the page and in three places on the 1st page (technical skills, technical summary, current position) so they can say that the experience is relevent.

    The following has always been a successful outline for my candidates

    NAME
    Contact information

    SUMMARY
    Who you are and what you do; 3 to 4 sentences

    EDUCATION
    Keep it brief – one to two lines

    CERTIFICATIONS
    Keep it brief – only those that are current

    TECHNICAL SKILLS
    A list of technical skills, listed by languages, systems, databases, ERP, Networks, Security Hardware, etc

    TECHNICAL SUMMARY
    A bulleted summary of what you have done across the last 5 years

    PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
    Your current position needs to be on the first page, bulleted, in a chronological format, with the rest of your experience on the following pages in the same format.

    Arial 10 or Arial 11 Font seems to work best for the body of the resume, while the headers should be the same size but bolded.

    I have been doing this for a long time, and this format has never failed.

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