I finally got down to the not-so-fun task of updating my resume after a gap of more than 6 years - that is when I left my last job. Some pointers based on my personal experience:
- Keep it short. This is one constant irritant I have seen through a few hundred interviews taken through the last 6 years. Everyone loves talking about their project even if their contribution was 10 lines of code. Mention only significant projects, a short description and your role was on the project. Trust me, no one is interested in reading a 5 page discourse about your professional background. I cut down my long essay style resume to 2 pages. Resumes act as conversation starters - after that its really the interview that matters.
- Spelling & Grammar. Proof read it and proof read it again. If you do not have a strong command on language, get it verified by someone else. These mistakes may get your resume rejected even before reaching the technical team.
- Make it pretty. Format your resume properly. Do not use spaces or tabs for indentation. Use tables in word and once done, hide the borders. From the scores of people being considered for a position a prettier one is definitely going to register in the mind of the recruiter
- Know what you claim you know. No need to mention the gazillion technologies used on your project when you worked only on one of them. The interviewer has every right to question you on what you claimed to know on your resume. Clean it out and focus on your strengths.
- Use keywords. If you are applying for a java developer job that requires spring & hibernate knowledge (and you have relevant experience), mention it clearly in your skill or summary section. The first search recruiters run is through keywords. This ensures that your resume will at least show up in their search
- Include any awards and special recognition. This helps in creating a first impression on your interviewer
- Every certification is worth a mention. I am extremely skeptical about the true value of technology certifications, however given no standardization, many companies & recruiters look for people with standard industry certifications. So that SCJP you did 10 years ago might still be useful to get you noticed :)
- Convert to PDF - do not send out doc or docx files. Instead convert it to pdf so that it's cross platform compliant and will print exactly how it looks on your computer.