As my favorite leading lady Julie Andrews once sung on screen, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”
In this series, however, we’re not going to learn how to sing (at least that’s not the plan). Instead, we’re going to learn how to write a resume, starting at the top and working our way down. The Alps and singing nuns might not be involved (again, not in the plans), but we do guarantee you this: if you follow these guidelines, step by step, your resume will convey professionalism and help you look like you know how to get a job.
Why is it important that your resume conforms to certain standards? Recently, an eye-tracking study was conducted to discover how long, on average, a recruiter spends looking at each resume. The results will blow you away…
That’s only six seconds of glory for you. How can you make the strongest possible impression, within that minuscule amount of time? Your resume needs to be clean, easy to visually search and scan, and yet tell a recruiter everything they need to know. Very, very quickly.
It seems overly basic, yes? But let’s start by thinking about how you write your name.
In today’s recruiting world, it’s important that your name be consistent across all of these many platforms we now use. We call this “personal branding.” And as any catchy advertising jingle shows us, consistency is the key to making your brand stick.
Do you go by your middle name? A shortened version of your first name? It’s not vital that your resume match your legal name, but it is important that you be consistent.
Here’s an example: Let’s say your full, legal name is Ronald Eric Smith. This is the name on your official forms of ID such as your driver’s license. However, everyone actually calls you Eric. Your professional-use email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. On Facebook and LinkedIn, you’re Eric Smith. Your resume might therefore read: R. Eric Smith.
Here’s another example: Let’s say your legal name is Ronald Eric Smith, but everyone calls you Ronny. Your email address and online profiles are all under the name Ronny Smith. Your resume might therefore read: Ronald “Ronny” Smith. Or, since this is a pretty well-recognized nickname, it’s not necessary that you specify it. But if you can’t stand being called Ronald? Then your resume should definitely read: Ronny Smith.
One more example: Let’s say your legal name is Ronald Eric Smith, but everyone calls you Rattlesnake. We’re sure there’s a great story behind that nickname, but this is neither the time nor the place. Your resume should read: Ronald Eric Smith, Ronny Eric Smith, Ron Eric Smith. Anything, really. Just please, not Rattlesnake!
Unprofessional nicknames aside, there are many name scenarios that quite possibly apply to you. For instance, you might have a name that’s difficult to pronounce. In that case, consider writing the pronunciation in parentheses, briefly, next to your name.
Lastly, if you have a pretty common name—Ronald Smith is a good example again—we ask you to seriously consider including your middle name on your resume. This will spare recruiters a name mix-up, and it will help distinguish you from other applicants.
For more insights into the nuances of what name you should put on your resume, check out these helpful articles: