Most employers will not spend more than 30 seconds examining what you have submitted to them. Your resume is but one of 50 or even 100 that are vying for the attention of this employer. This single sheet needs to be very succinct and structured otherwise it will likely be thrown out.
Here are some points to consider before you ever begin writing:
1. The basics – The first thing on your resume should be your name (bold and larger font than the rest) followed by your contact information such as your address, email address, and phone number. Make sure this information is accurate and up to date. You should also include it at the top of each page of your resume.
2. Don’t be too fancy – Do not use a colored background, fancy fonts, or images throughout your document unless it is directly related to the job you are applying for.
3. Font size and margins – Try to keep your font size around 12. Don’t make the font really small to reduce the page count and don’t make the font really big to take up space. Margins should be no smaller than 1” on the top and bottom and 1.25” on each side if possible.
4. One or two pages – If you are just graduating and do not have a lot of work experience then a one page resume is appropriate; however, if you have several jobs or several years of work experience then you may need more than one page to express yourself.
5. Sell yourself – The resume may be the only contact you have with the person screening the job. The content must address the business need and show what you have to offer.
6. Avoid too much personal information – Do not reveal any personal details your resume as this could lead to potential discrimination. Birth dates, personal photos, hobbies, marital status, personal health and affiliations are usually not important to the job you are applying for; therefore, don’t include this information on your resume.
7. Tailor your resume and cover letter for EACH position – Tailor your resume and work experience to support what the employer is looking for. Address each point in enough detail that the employer can easily find the information on your resume and cover letter and understand your depth of experience. One resume does not fit all.
8. Stick to the truth – Don’t try to embellish your experience, job titles, or education. Many applicants have lost out on great job opportunities because the employer discovered through reference checks, background checks, or other verifications methods that the applicant lied about his/her past.
9. Use bullet points – Bullet points and short sentences are excellent tools you can utilize to communicate information quickly. Use these tools to describe your work experience, but make sure you include enough information to address the employer’s job requirements.
10. Effective job titles – Most employers will make a judgment about your resume in 10 seconds or less. Therefore, you want your job titles or summaries to be as descriptive as possible. Instead of Accounting Manager you may want to describe yourself as Manager of Accounts Receivable.
11. Action verbs – Action verbs are used to quickly communicate your experience and/or achievements.
12. Do not include jargon or slang – People reviewing your resume may not have the technical expertise to interpret your resume, so decode the information so a novice will still have an understanding of what you do.
13. List all of your work experience and dates of employment – In most cases you should list all of your work experience. In addition, most employers do not want to see gaps in employment so try to show everything you’ve done.
14. Add quantitative data – Make sure the reader of your resume understands the breadth and depth of your experience. Include numbers to show the size of the department, the amount of the budget, or the percentage increase you were responsible for.
15. Proofread – This cannot be emphasized enough! One small typo and your chances of getting an interview may be gone. Proofread your document several times. Enlist a few different people to look over your resume. They may catch errors that you have missed.
16. Update the resume regularly – If you take on additional duties at work, receive an award, or complete a degree, you may want to include this additional information on your resume. Don’t wait until you need the resume, you may forget to include the information.
17. Keep the salary in mind – The image you create with your resume and your cover letter should match the salary and responsibility level that you are applying for. To go along with this though, all details about past salaries should be absent from a resume. If an employer wants a salary history, they will ask for it.
18. Keywords– Print job postings you’re interested in and highlight keywords. Are these words used on your resume? Transform your resume from a job description to a series of accomplishment statements that are of interest to the company by incorporating those keywords.
19. Match your resume to your LinkedIn profile– Make sure your resume is online! Once you have your perfect document in place, update your LinkedIn profile so it matches, include your job information on Facebook and Twitter, or create a professional blog for yourself where your resume information can be posted. Employers will be searching for you online, and it will be a tremendous help to find the same information confirming what they’re reading on your resume.
Using these tips as your guide, you should have an impeccable resume in no time. Just remember that you are selling yourself with these words, so be positive and accentuate your numerous talents.
Good luck and happy job hunting!