The resume probably draws the most debate and interest of any part of the job search process. It is amazing that one page of paper could generate so much discussion and require so much effort to create. The resume does not have to be something that consumes and paralyzes you during your search. In reality, there are some very simple ways to make your resume standout from the majority.
Below is a list of ways to improve a resume. All of these items are very simple to do and will require minimal time by you. Compare your current resume to the suggestions to determine what you need to work on.
- Right Size Your Document – Recruiters will spend seconds on a resume. Something needs to grab their attention to get them to read it. A lengthy document with little white space will most likely land in the discard pile. This is often done merely for the sake of time and has nothing to do with your accomplishments and qualifications. A typical rule of thumb is that under 10 years of experience relates to a one-page resume while more than that allows for a 2nd page.
- Make It Easy To Read – Now that you have landed on the right size for your document, make sure there is enough white space with the margins allowing for a border to properly frame the resume. Use bullet points, tabbing, underlines, and boldness to emphasize key points in a professional manner. It is perfectly okay to use short statements as opposed to long complete sentences to make your points. Don’t forget if you are sending a hardcopy document, have fresh ink if using an ink jet printer; even better, use a laser printer to produce your resume.
- Don’t Be Generic – Try, whenever possible, to tweak your resume for the position you are applying for. Match your accomplishments with the key points made in the job posting. If you have any industry specific experience, emphasize that in your resume.
- Focus on Results – As mentioned above, a Recruiter is looking for you to give him or her a reason to read the rest of your resume. A focus on your accomplishments is very important. Use metrics (i.e., numbers) whenever possible. Anything you did to reduce expenses or increase revenue should be emphasized.
- Use Buzzwords – Certain words may automatically catch the eyes of the Recruiter and cause a deeper read. Also, some Recruiters in larger organizations will use an applicant tracking system that may rank candidates due to how they match with the job description. When reading an advertisement, note any specific words or phrases that are not in your resume and try to incorporate them into your resume.
- Error Free – That is not just the goal of your resume, but rather the requirement. No typographical errors, no spelling mistakes allowed. Also, read through the document to make sure your grammar is correct. Don’t just rely on spell check; this is NOT a foolproof method. If you doubt your ability to write error free, show your resume to friends and family for their critique.
- Keep it Simple – Unless you are applying for a graphic artist position, most employers do NOT want to see a resume littered with clip art, odd template design, or wild colors. If you are using a professional resume writer, be cautious of their attempts to create a document that fits their need to be creative but does not match the type of position you are trying to obtain. The reality is that most businesses desire a resume that is fairly conservative and anything too odd in your resume will probably bring unwanted attention such as giggles or a headshake while it is placed in the discard pile.
- Keep it Positive – Never mention anything that was not a huge win for you in the resume. Never state why you left an organization, rather limit yourself to dates of employment. Placing an emphasis on using action verbs to describe your accomplishments such as created, analyzed, directed and designed helps to present a positive tone.
- Make it Easy for the Recruiter – If producing a hard copy, do this in Microsoft Word since that is what most business use. If sending e-mail, paste your resume in the document as well as an attachment. Place the position you are applying for right in the subject line.
- Follow-Up – A resume is just a piece of paper. Allow the resume to come alive by following-up and contacting the Recruiter you have sent the document to.
The role of the resume is to attract interest from a Recruiter and/or a Hiring Manager. The goal is for this interest to translate into an interview for you. By making some simple additions or corrections to your resume, you can quickly upgrade the document and provide yourself with a competitive advantage.
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: