A resume, no matter how good, will not get you a job by itself. However, a good resume will attract the attention of the hiring manager and secure a job interview. The purpose of a resume is to disclose your accomplishments and qualifications to a potential employer. If the employer likes what she sees, she will contact you for a face-to-face meeting.
Think of your resume as a promotional brochure about you. You need to show a potential employer what you have accomplished and where your experience lies. Your strategy should be to emphasize the experience and skills that a particular employer is looking for.
Your resume is also an example of your communication and organizational skills. A well done resume is itself another reminder of what kind of valuable employee you would be. Likewise, a sloppily produced resume is a terrific way to get taken out of the running before it even starts.
There is a lot of information available on resumes and resume writing--some of it contradictory, but most of it useful. Our advice is to find a good book on resumes and learn the fundamentals of resume writing. Try to stay with the most current material you can; resume advice follows trends. The Internet is home to plenty of free advice and information, but in most cases that information will be less detailed than a good resume guide.
For your convenience, we’ve compiled some of the best resume-writing tips. Learn more:
Make Your Words Count
- Keep it concise. Employers have lots to do, so don't make the mistake of asking them to read through an unnecessarily long resume. A long, wordy resume will put off someone who is already short on time. Resumes should be one page, if possible, and two if absolutely necessary to describe relevant work experience. A two page resume is no advantage if it's full of information that isn't reasonably applicable to the position you're applying for. Use the space only if you need it to fully disclose your accomplishments.
- Your use of language is extremely important; you need to sell yourself to an employer quickly and efficiently. Address your potential employer's needs with a clearly written, compelling resume.
- Avoid large paragraphs (over six or seven lines). Resumes are often scanned by hiring managers. If you provide small, digestible pieces of information you stand a better chance of having your resume actually read. Use action verbs such as "developed," "managed," and "designed" to emphasize your accomplishments.
- Don't use declarative sentences like "I developed the..." or "I assisted in..."; leave out the "I."
- Avoid passive constructions, such as "was responsible for managing." It's not only more efficient to say "Managed," it's stronger and more active.
Make the most of your experience.
- Potential employers need to know what you have accomplished to have an idea of what you can do for them.
- Don't be vague. Describe things that can be measured objectively. Telling someone that you "improved warehouse efficiency" doesn't say much. Telling them that you "cut requisition costs by 20%, saving the company $3800 for the fiscal year" does. Employers will feel more comfortable hiring you if they can verify your accomplishments. Be honest. There is a difference between making the most of your experience and exaggerating or falsifying it. A falsified resume can be easily spotted by an employer (if not immediately then during the interview process), and if it doesn't prevent you from getting the job, it can cost you the job later on.
- Don't neglect appearance. Your resume is the first impression you'll make on a potential employer, and a successful resume depends on more than what you say; how you say it counts as well.
- Check your resume for proper grammar and correct spelling-evidence of good communication skills and attention to detail. Nothing can ruin your chances of getting a job faster than submitting resume filled with (easily preventable) mistakes.
- Make your resume easy on the eyes. Use normal margins (1" on the top and bottom, 1.25" on the sides) and don't cram your text onto the page. Allow for some breathing room between the different sections. Avoid unusual or exotic font styles; use simple fonts with a professional look.
- Use standard, non-textured, fine-grained paper in white or ivory. Keep in mind that textured and dark colored paper may not copy well when the employer makes copies to pass around to other participants in the hiring process.
- If you need to copy your resume, make sure your copies are clean and clear. Even the best looking resume can be ruined by a poor copier. Use only copiers maintained for professional copying.
Target and Tailor
- Target. Target. Target. Emphasize what you can do for an employer. Be specific. If you are going after more than one job opening, customize your resume accordingly. It helps to tailor your resume for a specific position. Remember to only include the experience that is relevant to the job.
- Eliminate superfluous details. Unnecessary details can take up a lot of valuable space on your resume.
Leave Out Personal Information
- Don't mention personal characteristics such as age, height, and marital status. This is information that employers may not legally solicit from you, and they would probably be more comfortable if you don't volunteer it yourself.
- List your hobbies and interests only if you can relate them to the position you're applying for. If you need room to describe your work experience, avoid this altogether.
Leave Out Unnecessary Statements
- The phrase "References available upon request" should be left off if you need room to describe your work experience. Most employers assume you have references they may contact, and will request them if there's a need to do so.
- Avoid the "Objective" statement--your objective should be clearly articulated in your cover letter. If you do include an objective, be specific. Vague statements, such as "Looking to utilize my marketing skills" or "seeking a rewarding position" add nothing to a resume and may in fact make you appear insincere.