First impressions are everything when a human resource department has hundreds (if not thousands) of resumes to read through for each position they have available. In order to ensure that you not only grab your potential employer's eye, but stand out enough to be interviewed (and hopefully get the job as well), it is important to have not only an appealing resume, but one that is professional and adequately conveys the appropriate information. Follow each of the steps below to ensure that you win the job race!
Right out of the Gate
Visual appeal is your first chance to catch their eye and hook them into taking the time to read your resume. To accomplish this:
- Be concise. Do not overly explain yourself.
- Optimize the amount of information conveyed with each word you use.
- Creative use of white space can add visual appeal and also maximize legibility.
- Use bullet points to complement the use of white space.
- Use a clearly printed font. Times New Roman or Arial are the most suggested fonts.
- Size 12 font is the most appropriate. Text written in script or Wingdings with size 10 font would bring you to a screeching halt.
Rounding the First Corner
Now that the mechanics are out of the way, let’s look at the next few steps of ensuring your success with formatting your resume:
- Include basic important information first.
- Ensure your name is in clear, bold print - larger than any other text.
- If you have a gender neutral name, (such as, Pat, Alex, Taylor, or Ryan) be sure to include an appropriate title (Mr. or Ms.) so there will not be any confusion.
- Do not include irrelevant personal information, such as political affiliation or religious background.
- Do not lie about any information. Most human resource departments conduct background checks.
- Use keywords throughout your resume. They are usually nouns and can be extracted from the job description and relative job advertisements. Many companies now are using computer software to scan through your resume, looking for these key words. Your use of keywords will ensure your resume is even looked at by a human resource representative.
Keep up the Pace
When listing your work history:
- Use descriptive titles to give the employer a look into the nature of your previous experiences.
- List achievements instead of responsibilities and use actual numerical examples (“Increased annual revenue by 5% or $500,000.”) to show your prior successes.
- Make sure that all claims are backed with experience.
- Use previous work experiences to illustrate qualities you possess, as well as the benefits of your skill-sets. Use verbs in job skill descriptions (Quintessential Careers has a great list by skill category).
- If you worked with someone well known in your industry be sure to include their name in the work description. This should also be done if you reported to or worked directly with highly ranked executives within a company.
- Only include the last 10-15 years of your employment history, unless you are just starting out.
- If your work experience is lacking, be sure include relevant volunteer work, internships, or hobbies.
- If you held multiple positions within a company, be sure to list all of them.
Coming into the Home Stretch
Put the pedal to the metal for a photo finish by:
- Always keeping your resume updated on a regular basis. Include all new relevant information, courses, and training.
- Tailoring your resume for each position you are applying for – highlighting the most relevant information.
- Conveying your aspirations without directly stating or listing your professional goals.
- Only using resume templates for ideas—not as actual templates. To get ahead, use the best ideas from multiple templates to create a unique look and feel for your resume.
Sprint to the Finish-line
Your resume should be looking strong now. Some final details to ensure your victory:
- Take the time to proofread your resume. Check for proper use of capitalization and punctuation. Be sure that all spelling and grammatical errors are corrected. Proofread it once on the computer, once on printed paper, and once read aloud. Then, have someone else proofread it one last time.
- Use a quality printer when using a paper resume.
- It is best to use plain white paper, but if you decide to use a different color be sure it is soft on the eyes and does not have any distracting patterns.
- Ensure that there are no smudges.
Now that you have a golden resume in your hands, go ahead and send it out to get noticed and land that job!
What are some tips/tricks that you have used when creating your resume that you think helped you to stand out to potential employers? Share below!