Resume Tips

Unless your next career move is retirement, you need a well-thought-out resume that thoroughly promotes your skills and experience. Here are ten tips to help.

For job interviewing tips, go here …

10 Resume Tips

1) Find a format that looks great.

The resume format will dictate the overall look and ease of navigation. Go with a style that is visually appealing, clean and open. Avoid formats that are boring, cluttered or boxy.

Pay attention to font type, font size, spacing, use of bold font, indenting, centering, bullet points and lines used to separate sections.

An Objective section can pigeonhole your resume. In the spirit of open-mindedness, leave this section out.

Decide if you want to summarize your best assets under a Summary section. This can be very effective, but make sure this information is relevant and easy to read. You can use the title Profile, Skills, Qualifications, Summary or Qualifications Summary. Go with what makes sense.

The Work History section should be in reverse chronological order. This means that the most recent history is on top. Include both month and year on employment dates. Unless you’re just entering the workforce, the core of your capabilities should be represented within this section.

Unless requested, leave out references. The statement references available upon request is obvious, leave it out.

Write and send your resume in Microsoft Word. Stay away from Excel or PDF file formats unless requested. Unless there’s a good reason to do otherwise, avoid images, colors, charts, tables, unusual font and old-fashioned font.

The best way to start your research for the perfect format is to look at sample resumes online.

2) Check out resume content within your industry.

Get content ideas from real world resume examples that match your vocation. Go to the find resumes section of your favorite job website. Use keywords within your industry to search for resumes similar to your own. You will find a wide variety of examples, but keep in mind, there will be plenty of poor examples.

The best way to come up with resume content is to look at real resumes online.

3) Organize content with your best assets on top.

Because there is no standardized format for resumes, the content can be adjusted to your advantage.

  • If you want to brag about your education, put this section near the top. If not, put it towards the bottom. GPAs are optional; leave them out if they are less than impressive.
  • For bullet points, use the same strategy. Try to arrange them so that the most informative and most flattering are up top.
  • The Work History section does not have to include every job that you have ever had. Eliminate jobs that are early in your career if they are irrelevant to your situation or unflattering to your age. If you want to be elusive about your age, consider removing graduation dates.


4) Don’t sell yourself short.

When candidates talk about their career, it’s not uncommon for them to mention grand achievements that are not listed on their resume. One might argue that achievements can be discussed within an interview, but there will never be an interview if the resume is lacking.

Proudly display your best achievements within your resume. Did you take on a leadership role for an important design modification? Did you train the entire sales team to use a new CRM software suite? Did you do something that made your company money? Did you do something that saved your company money? Did you initiate transformational change? Include it in your resume.

Use specific and factual information. Remove cliche and unsubstantiated claims like “I’m a team player with the ability to motivate others”.

5) Customize your resume for each opportunity.

Most people use a one-size-fits-all resume. If your career choice has you focused on one specific task, this should work well. However, if your skills can span multiple industries and cover a variety of goods or services, you may want to get creative.

When looking at a new opportunity, it is important to read the job description and compare it to your resume. Highlight the job description requirements and preferences. Highlight your resume in areas where you see a match. If you have skills and experience that you can add to your resume to get it closer to the job description, take the time to do so. Remove information that is clearly irrelevant.

Example:

Brenda is a sales person who works for a manufacturer of plumbing supplies. If she wants to apply for a job with a plumbing distributor, she should adjust her resume to mitigate the differences between a manufacturer and a distributor. She might name-drop some of the distributors that she works with, as well as shared customer relationships. She might also reference a key win, where she worked in tandem with a distribution rep to close a big sale. If she has a bullet point on her resume that has her influencing a change in product design, she might consider removing it, as product design changes rarely happen at the distribution level.

6) Choose a length that makes sense.

Resumes are not suspense novels. No one is going to snuggle up to one with a cup of coffee. They are usually read very quickly, sometimes visually scanned for key information.

This being said, longer resumes do not force longer review times. An overly long resume will simply dilute desirable information. An overly short resume may be missing good information. A resume that contains unusual content will be … just unusual.

In simple terms, a resume should be designed around the quick and easy transfer of relevant information. If you’re on page five wondering what you left out or shrinking font size to fit everything on one page, you’re probably not focused on what’s best for the reader.

What to leave out:

  • Your recent work experience holds more weight than what you were doing twelve years ago. Limit the length of old work history.
  • An interim job that you held for eight months holds less weight than the job that you held for eight years. Limit the length of short-term positions. Use them to promote unique and pertinent experience.
  • Leave out personal information including religion, politics and family information.
  • Leave out hobby information, unless directly relevant to the position you’re applying for.
  • Once you hit mid-career, you can remove college GPA scores and low-level achievements that are getting long in the tooth.
  • Say no to very long paragraphs.
    Unless there’s a reason for it, don’t include a cover letter.


What to include:

  • For current and previous employers, don’t forget to include a brief description of what the organization actually does.
  • Responsibilities are different than achievements. With each job title, provide insight into formal responsibilities.
  • For leadership roles, include how many people you managed. This is especially true for sales positions, as the title sales manager often refers to the managing of customers rather than the managing of employees.


7) Market yourself within your areas of expertise.

It’s been said that the sole purpose of a resume is to get an interview. If this is true, it would make sense to be all things to all people. This might work, but it won’t drill home the specific value that you can bring to an organization.

If you have specialized skills that can solve a problem, don’t be afraid to advertise them and don’t hesitate to use your resume to start the process. Your resume is not just a tool to get an interview, but a marketing piece to position yourself within the job market.

8) Use keywords.

As previously stated, your resume might be reviewed very quickly. Because of this, it is a good idea to add keywords that will make relevant skills and experience easy to find.

With the help of industry websites, make a list of keywords commonly used within your industry. Then, highlight industry keywords on your resume. Compare the two. If your industry is not well represented within your resume, you have work to do. Your resume should serve your industry in every way.

If you upload your resume to job websites or use content from your resume to complete your LinkedIn profile, these keywords will hold additional value. They will allow you to be seen by recruiters who are using the same keywords to search for candidates.

Example:

If Brenda is able to design shower faucet valves by using XYZ design software, she will want all of these underlined keywords in her resume.

9) Be aware of your possible red flags.

Sometimes, the hiring process is as much of a subtractive process as an additive process. This means that your resume might be reviewed negatively, for red flags.

What are red flags? Every hiring authority is different, but typical red flags include the following:

  • Frequent job jumping.
  • Employment gaps.
  • Short tenure in the position that best matches the job description.
  • Unrelated or insufficient college degree.
  • Career plateau, regression or major shift.
  • Confusing resume.
  • Poor spelling, grammar and punctuation.


It is a good idea to review your resume in a negative light to look for red flags. With each possible red flag, you should have a brief and well-rehearsed verbal response. You don’t want to get caught in an interview stumbling for answers to simple questions.

Resumes are not a platform for explanations or excuses, but if you can sneak in a comment like contract position or company closure June 2014, you might help your cause.

Keep negative perspectives and biased opinions out of your resume and out of your interviews. Anything you write or say about a previous or current employer might be interpreted as something that you will eventually say about your next employer.

10) Check spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Mistakes on a resume will make you look sloppy and poorly educated. Don’t forget to use the spell check and grammar check built into Microsoft Word. Double check your use of past tense and present tense as you describe past experience and current activities. This is a common mistake. Enlist friends and family to proofread.

Read and reread your resume, walk away and come back to read it again. Read it until you’re sure it is of the highest quality.

In addition to the resume, all correspondence that surrounds a candidacy should be double and triple checked for errors. Precise communication is the best way to show-off your communication skills.

 

Article by Martin Haslinger
Technical Recruiter / Partner
Human Castle Executive Search

 

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