Can first page of your IT resume stand on its own?

Reading others' resume is not only a boring task, but also your prospective reader does not have too much time to read everything. So, you must remember that only your first page is read, and the remaining pages are scanned.

"Would your first page stand on its own?" test

What is this test? Before I answer this, let’s look at the following common question. What is the best length for your resume? Some consider that any resume more than one to two pages is someone who is not an effective communicator and one should be able to sell him or her in one to two pages. Others may argue that for experienced job seekers, a one-to-two page resume may be too crowded. There won't be enough room to include his or her valuable "Can Do's" or "sell".  A one-to-two page resume may also look too "entry-level". Both are valid arguments and one needs to find a happy medium. Times have changed and recruiters generally appreciate a 2-5 pager. Even though expectations are divided as to how long a resume should be, many industry experts agree on one thing:

“You should be able to sell yourself in one page. And also, if the first page looks boring, they will typically skip the rest.”

Others take it even further and say that:

“The first 10-15 lines are the most important. They will motivate a recruiter to read on or to stop. Longer resumes need to be carefully designed to "sell" you up front – in the top half of Page 1”

Here is a sample first-page

John Intermediate 
Mobile: 0123 456 789, e-mail:, blog:

Professional Summary 
  • 3.5+ years of intensive Java specific experience of which 2.5 years in JEE for BigBrand Finance.
  • 2.0+ years of hands on experience in building applications on a Websphere server with sought-after technologies and frameworks like Spring, Hibernate, JSF, ajax, TDD, Maven2, and agile development methodologies. 
  • 6+ months of hands on integration experience using JMS, Websphere MQ, Web services, XML, XSD, XSL, and SOA. 
  • Remained as the only contract staff during a major economic down turn in a team that was down sized from 30 to 12.

  • Diligently revived an under performing application by introducing true pagination for complex screens with large search results, replacing pessimistic locking with optimistic concurrency control and AOP based retries, and improving frequently accessed regex performance by minimizing backtracking.
  • Assisted and mentored new recruits within the Java development team with JSF, Spring & Hibernate frameworks, setting up of their environments, etc which ensured smoother transition, improved productivity, and successful timely completion of the project.
  • Took pride in the development of a leading edge online trading system using Java/JEE with open source application stack and tools. The system handles over 500,000 hits and 10,000 downloads per day.

Technical Summary

Java Technologies: 3.5+ years Java 1.4, 1.5, Swing, Applet, JMX, and JDBC. 6m+ in building a stand-alone multi-threaded application.
JEE Technologies: 2+ years 3.5+ years JSP, Servlet, JSF, EJB, JMS, JSTL, EL, JNDI, JTA, and LDAP.
Tools: 3.5+ years Ant, Maven, CVS, SVN, Eclipse, Rational Software Architect, etc
Platforms: Databases (Oracle, MySQL), OS (Linux, Windows), Application Servers (Tomcat, JBoss, and Weblogic).
Design skills: OOA (Object Oriented Analysis) & OOD (Object Oriented Design), AOP (Aspect Oriented Programming), Design by contract, GoF design patterns, JEE & EJB design patterns, and UML.
Software Development Methodology: Agile methodology, RUP (Rational Unified Process), XP, TDD (Test Driven Development).
Other: HTML, CSS, Ajax, JavaScript, XML, XSD, XSL, XSLT, XSL-FO, WSDL, JAXP, Xalan, Xerces, SQL, etc.

Work Experience 2

Would your first page stand on its own?....test

Check points:

  1. Doers it clearly summarize my experience? Yes it does. 3.5 years in Java and 2.5 years in JEE.
  2. Does it clearly summarize my technical skills? Yes it does. The key required technologies like Java, Spring, JSF, JMS and Hibernate are mentioned under the profile section. The main purpose of the first page is to arouse interest and not to cram everything into one page. 
  3. What are my selling points? Yes

    • 3.5 years at BigBrand finance. [If you good enough a large company, you can do the job for us as well].
    • Hands-on experience with sought-after frameworks like Spring, Hibernate, and Maven.
    • 3.5 year domain knowledge in finance.
    • Exposure to large systems handling 500,000 hits per day 10,000 downloads.
    • Experience with technical key areas like performance, concurrency and transaction management.
    • Mentoring junior recruits.
  4. Does it satisfy the prospective employer’s job specification? Do I have to customize anything? Mostly yes, but this employer is asking for at least 4 year experience. I will continue to explore different avenues and will make my resume more impressive with every additional accomplishment. All I need is just a foot in the door to fast-track my career.
  5. Does it promote me as a well–rounded candidate with both hard (technical) and soft (non-technical) skills? Yes it does. Mentoring new recruits, taking pride in building mission critical systems, and surviving down sizing [employers like to retain well-rounded employees who get things done].
  6. Do I have any fluffy statements like "I am a great communicator" that can be improved? No. All of my statements are substantiated with where and how I acquired them.
  7. Do I make my statements credible enough by mentioning a company name, URL, etc? All my claims are backed up with where, when, and URLs.
Asking the above questions will help you improve your resume.

So, when you write a resume, assume that your first page is going to take the most attention. In general, the first page is read and the remaining pages are scanned. Always verify it to see if your first page addresses the key requirements, sells you well, well balanced, and interesting enough to stand on its own. As a “rule of thumb” 2-5 page resume that "breathes" and is pleasing to the eye, that "sells" you up front and is easily scannable, will often work better than one crowded page with just "sell". So, don’t be tempted to write just a one page resume! Also, don’t make your resume too long with boring and trivial information.

“Think quality not quantity.”

Programmer full sample Resume -- Java programmer example

Note:  You will get more quality with 100+ eye catching resume phrases for software engineers, and very useful tips like this with sample resumes you can check my book Java/JEE Resume Companion. Even though the examples are Java/JEE specific, they are easily transferable to any programming language.

No comments:

Post a Comment