Top 10 Resume Pointers
Remember, your resume is the greatest asset you have—don’t forget this!
1. Keep It Professional
Keep it professional. Your resume is a business document, so it must be professional. Your resume is no place for gimmicks, pictures, or funny e-mail addresses. Although you may think you look great in your picture or your e-mail address is funny, this is not required on your resume. You may think it looks great, but your employer may disagree. Stick to the facts and keep it professional!
2. Make It Targeted
The more targeted your resume is, the better you have at landing an interview. Employers want to know exactly what you can do for their company. It is important you tailor each resume to each job (it will only take a few sentences to do this). Get rid of any information that is not required for a particular job. This will alleviate the tendency to overcrowd your resume with too much irrelevant information.
3. Make Sure It’s Well-written
A well-written, concise resume will make a greater impression with your employer than a long winded “padded” resume. Use positive action words such as: enhanced, influenced, restructured, and attained. This will add that extra boost to your resume. On the same hand, avoid everyday buzz words. Remember, your resume needs to focus on your key skills and achievements. Words such as “hard worker,” “reliable” and “ambitious” can have a more detrimental effect on your resume as these words are seen as adding no value to the resume.
Your resume is a marketing document. Promote and sell yourself! Do not be scared to sell your skills, accomplishments, and abilities. If you don’t tell the employer, no one else will. Focus on what you can offer the business rather than what the business can offer you. Emphasize your skills, especially the ones the job is asking for. An employer wants to know you have the relevant skills for that particular job. If a coffee shop is hiring a barista, and you’ve already worked as one, make your skills stand out and take center stage. Just like with the example of skimming over the magazines, you need your employer to take one glance at your resume and want to read on.
5. Make It Tailored
Very important – the one size fits all approach does not work here. Every job is different, and depending on what the job is, you need to make sure you tweak your resume (and cover letter) for that particular job. Ask yourself, “What job am I going for, and does my resume have the skills and strengths required to present to my future employer?” Tailoring your resume to the specific job you’re going for will show the hiring manager you are serious about working for their organization.
6. Remember: Quality Over Quantity
Quality not quantity! Your resume is not a life story. Stick to the facts— using irrelevant data, waffling, and padding your resume are detrimental. Let your skills and experience do the talking for you.
7. Keep It Simple
Forget about fancy fonts or clever uses of italics. Keep it simple. Your resume is not meant to be a work of art to be displayed on the wall. Not only can it be hard to read, but there are multiple scanning software programs that might be unable to read it, meaning it will end up being deleted before even being opened.
8. Have Correct Spelling / Grammar / Punctuation
Every word program these days has spell check—USE IT! Poor spelling and grammar will immediately land your resume in the “deleted items” box. It is hard enough to get an interview—do not let yourself down with basic spelling mistakes. Re-read every word yourself, and get someone else to read it as well.
9. Keep It Consistent
Be sure your resume is written in a commonsense way—in order, logical, and easy to read. Be consistent throughout your resume with your margins, fonts, and line spacing. Don’t be scared to accentuate your skills or achievements with a different style of font or by using a bold font (but remember keep it simple. There is a fine line of going overboard when using different font styles). Consistency shows professionalism.
10. Don’t Mention Money
Unless you are directly asked about money, do not mention it. Keep your cards close to your chest. Do not rule yourself out before you even begin because of money.
Five more important elements:
1. Resume real estate is valuable, don’t waste it. Have a “skills” section on your resume? Lose it. Frailey said this type of information should either be incorporated into the resume itself – and backed-up with specifics – or go into a cover letter.
For instance, on her resume Yvonne listed “talent acquisition” as a skill. But lower down in the document she highlights that same skill with this bullet point: “Recruited and staffed over 300 vacancies within 3 months.” That’s a much more specific and compelling way for Yvonne to underscore her recruiting abilities than referring generally to her talent-acquisition skills, making the latter redundant.
2 Create a resume format that works for you. Don’t feel tied to the traditional functional or chronological structure for resumes. “New times call for new forms,” Frailey said. Your goal is to show off your skills to best advantage, period. For Yvonne, that might mean organizing her resume by “non-profit” and “corporate” employers.
3 Avoid the phrase “professional experience.” However you choose to organize your resume, stay away from the section header “Professional Experience.” Instead, choose a more specific header like “Human Resource Experience.”
“Because it will likely be in a larger, bolder font on your resume, the section header always catches an employer’s eye,” Frailey explained. But “Professional Experience” doesn’t tell the hiring manager what kind of job you want, or what kind of job you’re looking for.
Tailor this header for each job you apply for, she added — you want hiring managers to clearly see that you have the experience they want.
4 Don’t use self-assessing language. According to Yvonne’s “before” resume, she “contributed to successful recruitment and retention” as a director of HR. Sounds impressive, but Frailey doesn’t like it.
“As an employer I’m thinking ‘I’ll be the judge of that, don’t tell me what to think of your skills,’” she said. “I’ll know by seeing what you’ve actually done and by calling your references. So don’t waste any time on that sort of stuff.”
5 Highlight proper names. While she hasn’t had a full-time job since 2010, Yvonne has filled her time, and the gap on her resume, with consulting work. But while she listed projects she tackled for clients, she failed to identify the companies by name.
“People respond to proper names — they jump out,” Frailey said. “When I scan a resume, I should easily see where you worked.”
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