Your resume is your first impression to a potential employer to show you have what it takes to be successful in the role. It’s important to stand out from stacks of resumes and establish that you will meet the qualifications needed.
Remember Your Audience
Focus on what benefits you bring to the employer. Hiring managers basically want to know the answers to two questions when reviewing your resume:
- Do you have the skills and experience to handle the job with limited ramp-up time?
- How have you demonstrated success in the past?
The experience section of your resume should provide an overview of your career chronology. You want to clarify the primary duties of each of your past roles, as well as the key results of how you spent your time.
While it’s important to include the highlights of your responsibilities, be careful not to outline every detail of your official job description. Use accomplishments that can be quantified with numbers, percentages, dollar amounts or other concrete measures of success.
A good rule of thumb to help keep your resume concise is to list the 5-8 most important responsibilities or skills gained at each job, depending on your tenure. Also be sure to focus on your most transferable skills. Many companies use acronyms and terms that may not as familiar to the outside world.
Back to the Basics
Every resume should include contact information and a brief tailored summary of your skills at the top to entice a hiring manager to read further. Please remember to use a professional email address on your resume! There is limited value in writing a generic objective stating that you are a “team player or detail oriented” – almost every applicant fits this description.
Although you might use spellcheck religiously, it doesn’t catch all errors. Mistakes in spelling and grammar are fatal to your job search, so always ask a friend to help you proofread.
Remember that hiring managers may read hundreds of resumes a day so you want yours to be visually pleasing. Allow plenty of white space and limit to a simple font selection. Use clear and consistent section headings. Make it easier to read by using bullets rather than a paragraph format.
The Importance of Keywords
In today's world of emailed and scanned resumes, your sentences must contain the right trigger words to make it through to the decision makers. Job descriptions are great sources for the keywords your potential employers are targeting, such as computer or language skills.
Keep It Concise
Although detailed information about internships and college academic honors can be important for recent graduates, professionals with four or more years of experience can omit this information. You can include a volunteer experience section if it conveys your leadership background or skills relevant to the position.
Most hiring managers will scan the highlights of your resume and make a decision in less than five minutes about whether to take the next step. Your resume is essentially a brochure outlining why you deserve an interview so take time to make it the best it can be!