Employers can receive over 200 resumes for one job posting—some are from qualified candidates, most are not. So how do they weed out the bad ones? How do you get your resume to the top of the stack, apart from writing, "Look at me! I am the candidate you want to hire!" on it? While this is tempting, it is not the right course of action. Here is what you should do instead.
Tip 1: Contact info, first
This may seem like a given to you—your resume is completely worthless without your contact information, after all. But make it easy on potential employers by putting your name, phone number and email address (no need to include a physical address these days) in big, bold font type, centered at the top of your resume. It should always be crystal clear and easy to find.
Tip 2: Simple, clean formatting
Your resume needs to be easily skimmed by potential employers or recruiters. Clean up the formatting to make the content quickly readable. Keep text aligned left (never centered or justified), and stick to one font size throughout the entire resume (it’s ok for your contact info to be a slightly bigger font). Use all caps sparingly, and keep bullets short and concise. Create sections of content with white space in between each one. Above all, make sure the format is consistent throughout the entire document.
Tip 3: Stay relevant
It may be tempting to list out everything you’ve done since junior high school (spelling bee champ!), but don’t. Anything after 10 years or so is no longer important to potential employers. Keep a master resume with all of your accomplishments, but send out an edited version with only the most pertinent information for the job to which you are applying.
Tip 4: Keep it chronological
Start with your most recent job experience, and work your way back chronologically. If you have gaps in employment, or don’t want to look like a "job hopper" it’s ok to omit months of employment, and just include years (i.e., 2011-2012). It’s common for an employer to inquire why you left companies during your interview, but there is no need to include an explanation on your resume. Experience should be followed by education (dates aren’t necessary unless you are a recent grad), then accomplishments/awards, and lastly skills.
Tip 5: Boost the look
It is totally acceptable to let your work speak for itself and have a simple, straightforward layout. However, go for a stylized design if you’re more artistic, and want to really make an impression. If you do decide to incorporate graphics, make sure your resume remains clean and easy to ready. Here are some examples of effectively enhanced resumes.
Tip 6: One page, two max
This is a highly debated topic. It has been suggested to keep resumes to one page, but anyone with more than a few years of experience knows that this is very difficult. Recruiters and employers are generally interested in your most recent experiences and then may skim to education and other information. Two pages should be your maximum—and this will force you to keep your content as short and sweet as possible.
Tip 7: Read, read, and then reread
There is really nothing worse than typos, period. Proofread your resume, over and over, and over. Then have your neighbors, friends, cousins, and anyone else with eyes read it, just to be 100% certain it is perfect.
Tip 8: Just the facts, please
Avoid using too many "fluff" words. It’s all too natural for us to throw in a bunch of adjectives to really sell ourselves. In keeping with tip #1, keep bullets short and succinct—include only factual information, such as tasks you performed or numerical data to support your claims (i.e., I boosted sales by 40% in Q1 2010).
Tip 9: More than experience
Sometimes your experiences alone are enough to get you the job you want. But other times, especially if you are relatively new to the job market, your other accomplishments, awards, and even outside interests may appeal to a potential employer. Include extra merits that may be considered valuable for the job to which you are applying.
If you are still unsure whether your resume is up to par, there is no harm in asking a professional or your recruiter for help. Sometimes slight adjustments can make all the difference in getting noticed, and landing that job you want. One of our team members at Paradigm would be happy to review your resume! You can connect with us here.
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