Whether you’re looking for a job or advancing within your current company, it’s important to have a great resume and there’s no shortage of books, websites and other forms instruction on the topic. At the time of writing this, a Google Search for “Killer Resume” returned 2,900,000 results.

But what differentiates my comments from other experts in the field is that I describe a superior resume as one that meets two simple criteria:

  1. It gets your foot in the door. By this I mean it gets noticed, reviewed and contacted for a screening or initial interview.
  2. It functions as your anchor in each interview and throughout the hiring process. A great resume centers or grounds the dialogue around your resume and can help prevent the interview from straying too far away from your comfort zone. Many questions originate from your work experience and you want your responses to be rooted in and supported by your resume. This helps you prepare for your interviews with more confidence and position yourself as the best candidate for the job.

Experience Crafting(c): The Making of a Killer Resume

When it comes to resumes, content is king and the real estate is expensive!

Less is more and while difficult to do at times, I have personally limited my resume to a single page throughout my 16 year career. There are plenty of bullet points that I have removed or re-worked over the years that are strong enough on their own to justify a place on my resume. But alas, the price of real estate is high on Resume Island and not every bullet point or piece of information has the dough to pay the rent.

Over the years, I’ve removed internships, pulled off cool and meaningful volunteer experiences, cut out details of successful projects, and had to edit and re-write sections from time to time. The practice of keeping my resume length to one page also means that my resume has become more concentrated and rich in experience per square inch over the years as I’ve gained experience.

The 5 Critical Questions To Ask/Answer to Improve Your Resume

In general, if a person reading your resume is required to spend more than a few seconds reading, and has to do more than a touch of critical reasoning to determine if they like what they see, then your resume might need some work.

Here are five critical questions that you should be asking yourself about your resume. While you can practice this exercise with your own resume, its even better to ask someone else you trust.

  1. Is my resume confined to a single page? If not, is there a strong “official” reason that justifies the length such as needing to cite papers or research you’ve published? Many resume experts will suggest limiting to two pages. In general, that’s way too long. Its better to stick to a single page. The discipline of doing so will also force you into the practice of distilling your resume down to only the best and most essential information.
  2. Is all the basic info easy to find at a glance? We’re talking Contact information, Education, Work Experience and Certifications, etc. All should be quick and easy to identify.
  3. Does your resume and experience timeline show frequent job changes or contain a gap that an employer or recruiter might be concerned about? If yes, have you addressed it proactively? If no, its possible that you should.
  4. Does each bullet point or piece of data on your resume (except for the demographic info) allow the reader to make a clear connection to how it has contributed to your growth and experience? Consider taking off or revising content that doesn’t allow you to answer “yes”.
  5. If the reader sarcastically asked, “So what? How could that help me?” when reading each bullet point, could she quickly identify a solid answer to justify its relevance? This is not an easy exercise, but it can be helpful in revising, editing, and eliminating “dead wood.”

Asking these questions and refining your resume accordingly will improve the overall quality of your resume, moving you closer to that “killer” resume that will be noticed by recruiters. Putting mindful attention towards these 5 key questions will also help you throughout the interview process by turning your resume into a road map of your rich and wonderful experience that you can speak to.