Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Shidduchim XI - A Shadchan's Customer's Wish List - Part 4: Resumes 101 - Formatting

It’s time to talk tachlis about resumes. But, before we do so, we must set a number of ground rules to this discussion:

Ground rule 1:

My previous posts clearly indicate that my objective is to help the girls in particular since they are more disadvantaged in this game. The analogy to a job resume is fitting. An employer (job provider) is usually swamped with countless resumesשברצותו אוחז וברצותו שלח.   A job seeker may have the option of which job to apply to but his (her) options are much more limited (and most likely his/her need is much greater). Even though employers must also promote themselves – “Come work for us and be part of our exciting team. High salaries, bonuses, and benefits!” (this, while the radio reports that they are laying off another 300 workers) – they still have the upper hand. In today’s economy, the job seeker cannot be too fussy about how the company presents itself, but the job provider can be fussy about the wannabe employees.

Likewise, in today’s shidduch economy, the girls do not have the luxury of being fussy about poorly written resumes from boys. And so, the boys can get away with it. Still and all, most of the pointers that will be discussed here are equally applicable to boys’ resumes, and, in some cases (where the girl is the catch-of-the-day), a bad resume can spoil his chances as well.

So, the boys should also pay attention.

Ground rule 2:

It goes without saying that everything I will write reflects my own philosophies and that not everyone shares them with me. This is the precise point I wanted to make by quoting my friend’s email in the previous post. Doubtless, some readers may totally disagree with some of the positions I present and think that what I consider to be productive may be counterproductive – or vice versa.

My intent here is to present what I believe should be included in a quality resume and to explain why I think so. If any person has heard a dissenting opinion they should definitely hear out why the dissenting position thinks that way. Thereupon, they should make an informed choice as to which approach will serve their interests best. They should not base their decisions on anybody’s claim that “I have done hundreds of shidduchim. I know what to do.” No matter how prominent the mentor is.

Let’s start.

In order to provide a visual aid, I have prepared a sample shidduch resume that meets my criteria. Click HERE to view. Indeed, this is what I actually use. This is the resume of my 20 year old daughter wherein I changed almost every single name and phone number (including hers) and some other identifying details – to protect the (young and) innocent. My Yossi’s resume consists of the exact same format and content layout but obviously has the details that apply to him.

Every document, resumes included, has two components:

1.   Formatting – The layout and appearance of the document; the  חיצוניות

2.   Content – The textual information of the document; the פנימיות

Incidentally, every shidduch also has the same two components. In both cases the “content” is the important part and indicates the outlooks and personality of the individual. But, at some level, the outward appearance also reflects some of the פנימיות and it can be dressed up to project a certain image.

Let us discuss the formatting first, as it is the shorter discussion.

It goes without saying that a resume (and a blog post) must look nice and neat, well laid out and easy to read. And so it must have what is called formatting.

Formatting refers to things such as the style and size of font, the headings, line spacing, indentations, and blocks of information. A typical resume will have a banner line (Name of Subject) at the top. It can be either left aligned or centered. This is usually followed by some basic details in regular font (address, age, height).

After this there are blocks of information usually with headings such as Parents, Siblings, Work, Education, References, etc. The headings are usually slightly smaller than the banner and bolded. The fields of information under each heading is lined up in regular font. There is usually “white space” between each block of information.

The formatting itself is usually a matter of personal style without any iron-clad rules except one: Be consistent. If you are using 12 point font Times New Roman for regular type, use it for all the regular type. If you use 14 point bold Arial for the block headers, use it for all the block headers. Don’t change sizes and don’t change fonts for similar classes of information. Likewise keep the line spacing regular.

Almost every resume that I have seen has some normal formatting and complies with these basic rules. So I have no complaints about formatting per se. There is only one aspect of formatting that needs a little discussion and that is the fonts. But really this is part of a larger issue which is itself a throwback to my previous post; the one that asserts that resumes should be very detailed.

To give you a clue about the larger issue, I invite you to take a quick look at the sample resume that I provided (and actually use) and you will quickly notice something unusual about it that differs from almost any resume that you have seen and absolutely every one that I have received:

It is 2 pages long!

So we will now discuss: The One Page Myth

There seems to be a rule either implied or stated by well-meaning coaches that “Keep your resume short and sweet and get it all on one page.”

I vehemently disagree. Not only is there nothing wrong with a resume going on to a second page, I maintain that there are some big advantages to doing it. And why?

·         It allows you to include a lot more information.

As a “buyer” I look at more information as a big plus for all the reasons I mentioned in my last post. We all know that a resume should not look too “busy” but it helps to look a little “busy” because this gives the impression that you are a “busy” person. More information tells the reader that there is more to you.  More depth, more substance.  

·         You have more space to keep the resume neat and readable.

I just mentioned that a resume should not look too busy. Yet, many one-page resumes look that way. Why? Because the writer does indeed have a bit more information that can comfortably fit on one page. So what do they do? In some cases, they reduce the font. A normal text document should be in either 12 point or 11 point font. 12 is the standard and 11 point looks somewhat busier and more “serious”, yet 11 point is also within an acceptable range. However, if that doesn’t fit, writers will venture even to smaller fonts to adhere to the mythical one-page max rule. Then it becomes tedious and unpleasant.

I have even seen some documents with 12 point font on some text blocks, but some other text blocks are reduced. This makes it look uneven and messy. I have also seen other unsightly “fixes” such as running the names and numbers of references one after the other on a single line instead of each reference in it’s own line. This was obviously because the writer was running out of space at the end of the page.

·         It makes your resume stand out

Imagine that a boy is between “parshas” and is looking over a stack of resumes to decide who should be next. Or a shadchan is reviewing her inventory. Every single resume in the stack is a single piece of black and white ink jet paper. Except one. This one is a little thicker than the others. It has a bit more “body” than the others because it is two pages stapled together or wrinkled at the corner. (Also it has a bit more to say for itself).

Which one is calling for attention? Which one is saying, “Look at me now?”

You guessed it. It’s the two-page resume. The two page resume that nobody else will write because the shadchan said, “Don’t you dare make it more than one page.”

Incidentally, I looked over most of the resumes that I have on file. There were indeed two 2-page resumes. At least one of these girls is married.

I want to add one more thing about fonts in particular. Use normal ones such as Times, Arial, Georgia, etc. Do not use any cursive or calligraphic fonts or commix or Olde English or something that makes your resume more difficult to read.

This basically wraps up the formatting segment. The content segment is much more complex so it will have to wait for the next installment. But while we are discussing formatting and appearance of your resume, let us cover just one more idea:

Is there any advantage to decorating your resume? Such as putting a border around the margins or some smiley faces or clipart on it?

(Note - Even though we already ruled out fancy fonts because of readability, one resume actually had a cursive font for the headings. This is the same girl who had a 2-page resume and is now married. Another resume had the headings in color. Another girl had her banner information shaded.)

Firstly, I can say that I have never seen borders, so, in my book, you would be the first! But there is something to be said for it.

No doubt, it will certainly help your resume stand out in a pile. And every time the boy (or his mom) or a shadchan goes over the stack of resumes, yours will catch their eye. It also sends signals of you being creative, non-conformist, unique, and daring. In short, it would give your resume some added personality. 

On the other hand, it may come across as a bit “cheesey” and you could be construed as being flashy or an attention grabber.

All this says to us, that some issues can be a double edged sword and work both in your favor and against you. This will also apply to some of the information fields that will be covered in the content section. Just be aware that you can never please everybody, so you should aim to please the type of people that you are trying to attract.

Personally, I would not recommend smileys or clipart but borders or headers that are fancy, shaded or colored may have some merit. Aside from the headers, I have never seen anyone decorate their resume, so it appears that the overwhelming consensus is not to do it. And this is definitely the safe, conservative approach (like wearing Bais Yaakov uniforms). Still, if you think the “signals” will work in your favor, then – go for it!

For - All is fair in love and war!


tzirelchana said...

too long and why do you need grandparents and eye color? Grandparents to prove you arent' mamzerim???I hate resumes but prefer them shorter and a sentence or two about what the girl is looking for (or vice versa) helps. BTW, I"ve got a lovely son.

Yechezkel said...

Thank you very much for commenting.

>>too long<<

And clearly I think most resumes are too short. We definitely have a conflict of tastes. This is part of what I am trying to convey.

>>and why do you need grandparents and eye color?<<

We will expound on this in the "Content" segment which I hope to post shortly.

>> Grandparents to prove you arent' mamzerim???<<

Among other reasons.

>> and a sentence or two about what the girl is looking for (or vice versa) helps.<<

Bulls-eye! Couldn't agree more.

>> BTW, I"ve got a lovely son.<<

Is this a "solicitation"? If you are serious, you can contact me personally at 1a7b.author@gmail.com

Kol Tuv