Resume Tips by Microsoft's Warren Ashton

Q: What is the first thing you notice on a resume?

A:There are two things stand out immediately for anyone reviewing a resume:
1) For industry professionals: the resume demonstrates that they are currently employed with a consistency of work experience
2) A track record of growing responsibility and skills that carry and grow stronger from job to job

Q: What do candidates absolutely have to have on their resumes?

A:This may be a surprise, but actually their contact info. That is truly "must have" and is not always given, oddly enough. But outside that quirk, it's probably a summary of their core skills. Something a recruiter can look at very quickly and gauge if the candidate has the very core skills and interests necessary for a particular role or team at the company.

Q: What should they leave out?

A:Any deep personal information as well as details on every committee you sat on or team project you helped on going all the way back to grade school. Keep the resume short, succinct and only include the most relevant information.

Q: What are some common mistakes you see on resumes?

A:Candidates don't always include what they personally were responsible for. Too often people talk about what the company accomplished or what their team accomplished. It's most important to share what they personally accomplished. Other mistakes are making the resume too long, too detailed, without a high level summary or clear direction on their goals/objectives.

Q: Name five things candidates should keep in mind when writing their resumes.

A:1) Keep it short and succinct; one to two pages is the target.
2) Include a summary of your career objectives/goals at the top.
3) Include a summary of your key skills at the top.
4) Give more details on about your most recent relevant experiences and fewer details about jobs held a few years ago.
5) Keep it real. Never lie. Never dramatically overstate what you personally accomplished.

Q: What are some common resume myths?

A:That resumes submitted online go into a pile in HR and nobody ever looks at them. This simply isn't true at Microsoft. There are recruiters whose entire job is to find and hire people into these positions. Absolutely they will look at resumes submitted for specific jobs. They have every interest in filling those jobs quickly with qualified candidates and if your resume is submitted through the normal process and identified to an open position, it will get looked at closely by a recruiter who has the responsibility and the interest to follow up with qualified candidates.

Q: What older rules no longer apply to resume writing?

A:That you have to include a complete history of your experiences. Not true so much. Keep the resume focused on the most relevant skills and experiences for the job(s) you're applying for.

Q: Does the layout/design of a candidate's resume have any effect on an employer? (i.e., if the resume is on colored paper, or sent via video)

A:Layout is important because the resume has to be easy to read and follow. A difficult resume to follow is much more likely to be passed over too quickly. Give the recruiter and hiring manager a chance to get to know who you are via your resume. You'll accomplish this better by being brief and with easy-to-digest info points, versus a long drawn out summary of all your detailed experiences that overwhelm the reader. Also, the use of video is becoming more common. If you have relevant video content summarizing your work, skills, interests, and you've posted that on a spaces page online, absolutely let your recruiter or hiring manager know about this. It can give great insight into who you are and your passion for your area of work. Microsoft is always looking for smart people who are truly passionate about technology and want to make a real impact from their work. It's important that this passion comes through at some point in the recruiting process. A resume can help convey this by being crisp, focused, easy-to-read, with enough supporting details to convey the main points.

Warren Ashton is the Group Marketing Manager/Staffing Marketing at Microsoft Corp. He is responsible for Microsoft’s recruitment communications programs. • Visit Microsoft Corp. Career Web site

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