Your resume is much more than just a list of employers and job skills. Rather, it’s a reflection of you as a person, your opportunity to show the world who you are and what you stand for. Creating a resume is as much art as science, revealing your individuality with the uniqueness of a fingerprint. However, there are some things that most great resumes share. In fact, here we’ll discuss the top 10 tips for successful resume writing.
1. Flexibility. One of the biggest mistakes that people make when composing a resume is getting stuck in one format. It can, in fact, be detrimental. For example, if you have a great job skill-set but have a spotty work history with a lot of gaps and jumping between employers, then a chronological employment-based resume probably isn’t for you. Feel free to base your resume on skills instead of employers. Prospective employers will make sure that they receive all the information that they need via formal applications and interviews. Your resume is your chance to let your creativity shine.
2. Blow your own horn. This is your time in the limelight and is no time to be shy or hold back. Put some effort into choosing words and phrases that will show you in the very best light. Someone who previously pumped gas for a living can reflect their true worth by describing themselves as a “professional petroleum transfer and resale technician”. No, this isn’t lying (in fact, we could consider honesty the bonus 11th tip for successful resume writing), but, rather, seeing the glass as half-full instead of half-empty.
3. Keep it brief. Resumes are not intended to be exhaustive. Don’t feel as if you need to list every single job you’ve ever had. Stick with what’s applicable to the job you’re seeking. A two page maximum is generally a good rule of thumb. Concise and effective are the words of the day.
4. Don’t skimp on quality. Looking for a job, you may not have a lot of extra financial resources. However, whatever you’re able to invest in your professional image now will more than pay for itself in the long-run. Using such things as heavy bond tinted paper with matching envelopes and a high-quality ink jet printer will help to match the materials you use with the information you’re sharing. Sure, you can run off ten times as many resumes using cheap materials and equipment, but quality will outweigh quantity in an employer’s eyes every time.
5. Skip the irrelevant stuff. When a hiring manager is looking over a resume, they really don’t care if the applicant is a gay Presbyterian republican. All he or she really cares about is if the applicant can do the job. Anything in excess of that is just talking your way out the door, and out of a job.
6. Purpose. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. By having your purpose and goals clearly in mind when beginning your resume, you’ll accomplish a couple of things. First, this mindset will help to organize all of the information in your resume around one cohesive principle. Secondly, you’ll avoid a shotgun approach to job hunting. If someone is using the same resume to apply both as a cashier and as a corporate executive, a prospective employer will spot it in a minute. Use your clearly defined purpose to individually tailor your resume to your career goals.
7. Don’t forget a cover letter. They’re two different things, and many employers are looking for both. The big trick with cover letters is to find a balance between professionalism and expressing your personality. Ideally there should be consistency between what is written in your cover letter and how you communicate during an interview.
8. Readability. Creating a resume is not about cramming as many words as possible onto the page. Achieve a classier look by incorporating some blank white space on the page. Use those neat features of a word processing program like bold, underline, italics. Organize information into paragraphs, use bullet points. A disorganized resume is the sure sign of…?
9. Keywords. They’re not just for blogs and websites anymore. An increasing number of companies have computerized databases which filter through resumes using specific keywords. You can hardly do better than to carefully review the company’s job description or profile (hint: they’re usually nouns). If those keywords are not in your resume, guess what?
10. Stay positive. Human resources departments that see negative statements, particularly about previous employers, on your resume will drop it like it’s on fire. Mom’s advice holds true; if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all.
It’s been said that, when job hunting, it is vital to put your best foot forward. Well, your resume is your best foot. As such, take the time to make sure that it reflects everything that you’d like it to. You are a unique individual that deserves to see the fulfillment of your career goals and dreams. A well created resume can be the key to making that happen.