First impressions last and your resume is a potential employer’s first impression of you.
A lot of people take their resume for granted, a necessary evil in the process of applying for a job. Consequently most job hunters put no thought whatsoever on how theirs is constructed and just slap together a bunch of facts and half-truths in a hodgepodge which barely passes for a resume.
I’ve seen some of the worst but also some gems during my various stints as a manager over the years. Here’re a few things you can do to better yours:
Keep your resume under two pages, one if at all possible
Additionally, don’t make it two when one will do but don’t cram two pages into one. Human Resource Managers don’t have a lot of time on their hands, having only a few minutes to review submissions. If you can communicate why you’re the best person for the job in as little time and space as possible, you’ll up your chances of getting hired (or at least called for an interview).
Skip the fluff and go for substance instead
Many newbies try to pad their resumes, thinking it will look more impressive when it’s 4-5 pages long. HR Managers are trained to detect bullshit like this and you will end up hurting your chances when you pull stunts like these. If you feel that your resume is a bit on the thin side and can use some beefing up, try using your internship, extracurricular activities, or volunteer work instead.
Most employers don’t really care what school you went to in Elementary and High School, preferring to focus on your most recent academic achievement which is your college education (or your MA or PhD, whichever is more recent). You may also want to highlight specific parts of your education, such as seminars or workshops you may have attended.
Talk about your accomplishments, not your job description
If you’re a salesman, talking about the sales calls you regularly made in your resume will bore HR to tears. Talk about how you managed to exceed sales expectations by 25% percent however and their ears will definitely perk up. Your accomplishments for your last employer are a good indicator of what you can potentially do for the next company that hires you.
Take the time to figure out a good layout for your resume
A well-designed resume make you stand out from the rest of the pack. Granted, not all of us may have the design sense to create a well-laid out resume but there are things you can do to make it look better such as proper line spacing and by using an easy to read font (no Comic Sans, please). If all else fails, ask one of your friends who has a knack for these things to help you.
Use a professional picture
You are applying for a job, not uploading a picture on Facebook or Instagram. Look at the camera and smile, wear something formal or smart casual at the very least, and get a professional to snap your pic. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. Make sure that the photograph accompanying your resume is saying all the right things about you.
Skip the traditional objective
Most resumes have a section where the applicant is expected to say something about his goals in life or career which doesn’t do much for your resume (or you), in my opinion. I prefer that the section be used instead to pitch why it’s in the company’s best interest to hire you. Make sure that you tailor this section specifically for the company and the job that you’re applying for.
Always include your references
I don’t really get why some people indicate that they will provide references upon request on their resume. Make sure you include it together with your reference’s job title, company, and contact details. Three is usually the minimum but never more than four. Always make it a point to inform your reference that you’ve included them as such and that it’s okay to do so.
Check for typos and grammatical errors
Have someone (preferably someone detail oriented) go through your resume before you send it out. Sometimes, when you’ve been working on something a long time, you lose the ability to spot errors which could prove to be potentially disastrous. The slightest mistake in grammar could reflect badly on you and end up losing you the job.
While a well-constructed resume is not a sure fire guarantee that you will get hired, I can say with confidence that it will at least increase your chances in winning the job.
With the market being the way it is today, a few odds more in your favor can’t hurt.