Over the years I've had the opportunity to review hundreds of resumes. In doing so I've found that there are certain things I scan for in a resume. If I scan and find what I'm looking for quickly, you'll get a phone interview. If it isn't there, or I don't find it on a quick scan, you might be out of luck.
So here are some of the things I look for in a resume:
Your Name - In a large, bold font at the top of the page. If I met you at a recruiting event and I somehow managed to remember your name, being able to flip through the stack and find you is going to be to your advantage. Too often I see resumes where the name is lost somewhere in the page, and I have to go hunting it down.
Contact Information - Give me at least your current e-mail address and phone number where I can reach you. In this age, mailing address isn't that important, but it doesn't hurt. It should be near the top by your name.
Objective - A one line meaningful objective. What are you looking to do? Do you hope to climb the corporate ladder? Happiest writing code all day? Part time, full time, or intern? Like dealing with customers? Let me know so we don't waste each other's time.
Categorized Skillset - This should be a bulleted list of your major skills that you feel comfortable using. This is what I'm scanning for to see if I will read the rest of your resume, and if you'll get a phone interview. Do not pad this section with skills you no longer use, or would not feel comfortable being tasked with.
Job History - The job history is both a blessing and a curse, and it is where I see most applicants struggle to find the right way to discuss what they have done. My pet peeve is to get a resume that reads like a personal diary. I have had folks submit 17 page resumes. I simply don't have time for that. Be concise. Three pages or less. Backup the skills you bulleted earlier. Tell me when you used your skill, and in what way.
Education - The education section is not a deal breaker for me. If I've found the skill I'm looking for, and you have work experience to back it up, then you can leave it out. If you are switching careers and have no job history with a skill, include your education as an alternative reference.
Last year I spent some time making campus visits and collecting resumes from students. Here are some things to avoid with your resume:
Paper - Students spend an inordinate amount of cash on having Kinkos print their resume on the finest paper stock they have. Kinkos loves it, especially at 75 cents a copy. The truth is, as soon as I get your resume back to my office it hits the scanner, and your original hits the recycling bin. You'll need lots of copies, so use whatever cheap paper stock is available.
Fonts - I don't know why folks feel an intense need to use fancy, script fonts. They are hard to read, and that isn't helping you. Don't stress on the font, just use the default for your word processor and forget about it.
Clubs - I've heard recruiters recommend including your professional and non-professional memberships on your resume. Frankly, I don't understand why. Your membership to IEEE or the local Kiwanis doesn't tell me anything about your aptitude for my open position. Save it for the face to face interview.
That is all that comes to mind at the moment. I spent this past weekend brushing up my own resume, so all of these things were fresh in my mind. If you have any additional tips or pet peeves for resumes, I'd love to see them in the comments.