Real estate is not just about properties and land. It is how advertisers see ad space and web developers see web pages - it is about the value of a particular area within any space, even resume space. Yes, a simple 8.5×11 piece of paper is real estate when turned into a resume.
However, it is a common mistake for job seekers to bury their best qualities, skills, and accomplishments in bad real estate - hidden in long paragraphs, under irrelevant content, or even on subsequent pages, leaving the reader feeling unimpressed because they can't find your best stuff. If you want to market your best qualities, you must position them in the best place possible on your resume.
But, why? Because employers will take about 30 seconds to scan your resume for keywords, specific skills, measurable achievements, etc. and if your best assets aren't advertised in key real estate, they will easily be overlooked.
So, what is the best way to get the biggest aesthetic bang for your buck? Here are some suggestions.
What to send up front: Include your most relevant and impressive skills sets, experiences, and accomplishments at the top of your resume to form a strong, focused introduction. This sets the stage for the rest of your document and tells the reader who you are (before telling them what you've done). If you specialize in a specific field, make sure industry-specific keywords and phrases are present here.
If you're field is technical in nature or requires extensive computer knowledge, list your applicable skills and certifications "above the fold." That means put a bulleted list of your technical qualifications (e.g. C++, QuickBooks, CRM software, etc.) above the middle of the first page.
Make it easy for them to reach you. By that, I mean don't feel the need to list two phone numbers, a fax number, a mailing address, email, personal URL, blog, LinkedIn, and on and on. Your address (in some cases just city and state will do), email address, and one phone number will suffice. This information should always be at the top of your resume under your name.
If you just completed a degree, list that above your professional experience to show your knowledge is current - and essentially to show what you've been up to during the past few years.
What to minimize or omit: I've seen many resumes that waste valuable page-one real estate on large, fancy print, photos, personal information, or just plain irrelevant data. Including these types of insignificant content can be detrimental to your search. The best way to combat this is to read the first half of your first page and ask yourself, "Is the content on this portion enough to keep the reader interested?" If the answer is no, you need to rethink that part of your resume.
Other aspects of your resume that should hang in the shadows (in poor real estate) include job gaps, brief job tenure, and less relevant information that may not apply directly to your current field.
Once you begin to view your resume in terms of real estate, you will begin to seeing where your best qualities will shine!
Cathy Eng is a Certified Advanced Resume Writer and owner of Resume Rocketeer, Inc. She specializes in helping clients leverage their best skills and experiences to create a powerful, effective resume and cover letter. Cathy specializes in a wide variety of fields and experience levels, as well as professionals looking to change career paths and those returning to the workforce after an extended period of time. She is a member of the National Resume Writers Association, Career Directors International, and Professional Association of Resume Writers.