Your resume is very important (as if you didn’t know that already)
Unless you are referred for a position, this may very well be the single piece of information that will decide whether or not you move on to the next stages of the application process. You need to make sure it represents you well, it’s concise and easy to read and it’s truthful.
Your resume is not all that important (and I like contradictions in my posts)
About one year ago, I spent an exaggerate amount of time (re)designing my resume. I rewrote the entire thing in Latex (and I don’t even know Latex). I had it reviewed by several people multiple times, made lots and lots of modifications, maintained different versions etc. I’m not saying it was the best resume, but it was definitely the best I could do at that time.
All this glorious effort and the vast majority of jobs I applied for never ever got to see it. Why? Because they use these recruiting apps where you have fill in all the data that is in your resume in a web form. This will quite probably be the most frustrating experience in the whole process. You’ll be filling the same information over and over again, in pretty much the same web app (no really… they use the same one! But you still have to write it every time again and again because there’s no information shared from one to the other) and that’s just the way it is. Honestly, if there is a way to write your resume that makes it optimised for the auto-filling function of these apps, I would definitely keep a version written in that way, but I’m not aware of any.
Anyway, that aside and assuming you won’t be filling out too many of these online applications, you should have one resume version that looks good; but just *good* should be enough here. The effort to go from a good resume to a fantastic resume is (in my opinion) not justified by the gain you’re going to get. I think it’s safe to say that by the time human eyes actually read your resume (so that they can be impressed by your awesome design skills), you will generally be already past the first stages of the process where the resume is the most important thing.
Keep it concise and well-organised. Do a good job, put some thought into it to make sure it represents you well (you should be proud of it), but don’t sweat the design/layout too much. There are lots of designs and formats out there, just pick one that you like and go with it.
Also don’t be afraid to maintain and create different versions, targeted for specific jobs or regions. You could have a longer resume which contains everything you would want to say, but don’t have space for* and from that you can create more concise versions targetted for your specific application.
Okay this was utterly unhelpful and boring, what’s next?
I know I didn’t have much to say here, but I had to talk about it at least a bit. Next thing, I’ll tackle how you actually go about applying to jobs and I’ll have some more interesting things to say there.
* I am really just mentioning this for the sake of having it there, because since this series is for getting your first job… I really don’t think that it should be the case that you have so much content to squeeze in. If you are just fresh out of college and feel that you have a lot more to say than you can fit in 1-2 pages, you’re probably not filtering the content right. Get some reviews from more experienced people to help you take out the most important bits and drop the rest.