Employers typically spend only a few second on a resume before moving on to the next one. Here are some tips to help you make your resume stand out and get noticed.
Structuring Your Resume
First hit the highlights – Put the most pertinent information at the top of your resume, as close to your contact information as possible. This may end up being in the qualifications section. A brief and compelling summary of your qualifications and skills will get the reviewer’s attention and display what you can do for the company on the basis of your credentials and accomplishments. You also want to keep this in mind when writing your job descriptions, as most employers may not make it to the end for the paragraph.
Be consistent – Since employers will be skimming through resumes to view them all, make your document easy to scan. Use a consistent layout that makes your resume easy to follow and find all the important information at a glance, like company names, dates, job titles and accomplishments.
Stay conservative – While there are many different resume templates, take it easy on the formatting tricks. Use bold and italics sparingly so that the text is easy to read. A clean and professional appearance is usually the best approach.
Try to keep your resume down to one page. Do that while maintaining the normal margins and fonts. Making the margins too small and adjusting the fonts will get your resume undesired attention and it may even get tossed. Use bullets and leave some space between lines to make your resume appear more inviting and legible.
Use a combination format – You may have heard some experts advising the use of a functional format in which your stress your skills rather than your work history. This can be particularly helpful if you have limited relevant work history. Keep in mind that many employers still want to see the conventional reverse chronology, as surveys show. After all this is the format of all job applications. So try using both in different sections of your resume to cover your bases.
Use your media skills – Dare to be different and think outside the box by supplementing your traditional paper resume with a video or audio. Give them a link to your professional website or blog, you can even use your LinkedIn Profile. But of course, steer clear of including your personal Facebook or twitter accounts. If any of your other media sources link to them, eliminate the connection or don’t include the link at all.
Writing Your Resume
Include keywords – Review the job posting carefully and integrate the keywords into your resume. Nowadays, some employers use software that scans submitted resumes for keywords and displays the matches. So you’ll need to rank high in the system since that will be the only way your document will be read by human eyes.
Customize – These days, the competitive job market favors personalizing your resume as much as possible. Try to adapt your language to what you know about the company’s culture and the kind of candidate they’re seeking, while still being authentic about who you are.
Quantify accomplishments – Your contributions in previous jobs are likely to be the most important factor in helping you get your next job. Focus on how you helped improve procedures, cut costs, won awards, receive recognition, got promoted or brought in new business. Whenever possible try to include a figure, employers like to see these kinds of things in numbers.
Use action words – As you’re describing your accomplishments, try to start each bullet or description with a verb. This makes you sound more active and makes your resume more interesting to read.
Be concise – I know I’ve said it a few times already, but I’ll say it one last time, employers don’t have much time to read each resume sent. Try to pack as much information as you can in as few words as possible. Avoid any repetition or empty jargon. Keep you sentences short and to the point.
Proofread – I can’t say this enough. If you’re anything like me your probably loathe the thought of rereading something you’ve spent hours on. You’ll probably feel like you know it all and just want to be done, but you have to, or have someone else do it. You’d be surprised how many resumes go out with simple errors and go straight from the inbox to the trash box.
If you can’t read another word give it to a friend or family member, which might even be better because a fresh pair of eyes may spot typos or make you aware of confusing language.
The job market is tough, but a resume that looks good and quickly demonstrates your strengths and qualifications could help you rise to the top. Give yourself the best chance to succeed by crafting a resume that will make your prospective employer want to learn more about you.