Improving Your Resume
Your resume is the first and often only chance to catch a perspective employer’s attention. It is a first impression that can mean the difference between an interview and the back of the file cabinet. A resume is a summary of your skills, accomplishments, and experience designed to capture a prospective employer’s interest. Simply put, the purpose of a resume is to secure an interview. With employers receiving hundreds of resumes, you must make sure that yours is the one that grabs the employer’s attention with just a glance.
- Keep up with current resume trends. One of the newest tricks in resume writing is the Resume Profile. Similar to an Objective, a Resume Profile is a condensed version of a cover letter. A majority of employers spend just a few seconds scanning over a resume; focusing on the top half of the resume and breezing through the rest. Your Resume Profile is your chance to stand out above the others by giving the employer a brief run-down of what you could bring to the job, your qualifications and skills, and your career goals. A profile can be even more helpful if you have a job history that is not completely relevant to the job you are applying for. A Resume profile is a short advertisement selling YOU!
- Key Words. Browse the company’s website and/or research the job requirements and duties. Identify important words, terms, and jargon relative to the job. Tactfully and coherently slip these into your resume. Even if the employer isn’t reading every word, these shiny terms will catch their attention.
- Create a digital version. Create a form of your resume that is specifically made to download. These versions generally should have fewer “bells and whistles”. Do not use bold print, boxes, bullet points, or flamboyant fonts. Some employers use programs that utilze keywords to weed out applicants. So, make sure it is digital friendly as well as human friendly.
- Social Media. Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedln are just a few ways you can further sell yourself or kill a deal. Social media when used the wrong way can backfire and jeopardize a job offer or even be cause for termination from your current job. When you’re looking for a job, it’s important to have an online presence that showcases your skills and experience. MOST employers will research you on the web to see what you post on your social medial pages. The posts they find and pictures you are tagged in can be as influential on whether or not you get the job as how you present in an interview. Just as social media can enhance your career, it can be extremely fatal. You’ve been warned!
- Your resume should be up-to-date. Create a good first impression by highlighting your most current and relevant skills and abilities. The job market is a “what have you done for me lately?” world. Technologies and skills are constantly in flux; i.e., being a computer programmer in 1987 might not help you get a job where you need to be fluent in Excel or Word now. Always list your most recent employer first.
- Use a design that grabs attention. Many employers scan resumes into a database; don’t waste your money on special bond paper with matching envelopes. It’s best to stay with a laser printed resume. Handwritten, typed, dot matrix and even ink jet printed resumes can look messy and unprofessional. Also choose a font that will catch the eye, but is not hard to read. If you do, the employer may lose interest in the content of the resume.
- Be consistent. Choose a pattern of spacing, an order of information presentation, and format of highlighting; be consistent throughout. There are several prepackaged resume design formats on Microsoft Word and other programs that you can use as a template. Take advantage; not only does this take some of the guess work out, but it will make things easier and more professional.
- Create content that sells. Resume design should get the employer’s attention, but it’s the descriptions you include of your skills and abilities that will generate interviews. Focus on skills relevant to the job. This might mean that you have to have a few different versions of your resume; each one specific to the career you are applying for.
- Be concise. Your resume should be a clear and concise summary detailing your successes, achievements, relevant education and certifications. Rambling on about unrelated skills, awards, and job history is another good way to lose the employers attention.
- Omit needless items. Don’t use valuable space on your resume on irrelevant publications, memberships or recreational activities. Unless you can effectively link your fantasy football skills or homecoming queen victory to the skills needed for the job, the employer will likely not care.
- Quantify your experience. Cite numerical figures, such as savings on budgets, improved efficiency, etc., to demonstrate your progress and accomplishments due directly to your work. Remember, business all comes down to money and productivity; so if you have concrete numbers to show your value, use them! “Key Accomplishments” sell your value to an employer.
- Proofread. Misspellings and poorly constructed sentences communicate a negative impression about the job seeker. Mistakes will usually cost you the job interview. Use spell check, have someone else look it over, and be certain to express yourself in a clear manner.
- Keep references current. Always keep a current, up to date list of business references on hand. Don’t forget to ask people first if it is all right to use them as a reference.
- Target your resume and cover letter. If you are going for a specific job, tailor your resume and cover letter accordingly to bring out the qualities you possess which will help you secure the position. Again, this may mean having several versions.