11 Tips to Improve Your Resume
Imagine for a moment that you are a model, and you’re hoping to be hired for a great fashion show. You send an envelope to the agency hiring for the show, inside of which is your photo, so that they can see whether you have the look they are searching for. But instead of a professional headshot, you have sent them a Polaroid picture (remember those?), something that a friend took of five years ago at their Halloween party, where you were clearly less than sober. Your application is tossed out without a second glance.
The photo in this situation has many of the same characteristics as a bad resume—it was terribly formatted, outdated, with an inappropriate theme, and overall made you look less than your best. You can be the most qualified candidate for a position—with excellent references, experience, and a great skill-set. Yet someone can overlook all of your credentials simply because your resume is not presentable.
Many things boil down to time, and the fact is that Human Resources officers are unwilling to spend a long time reading the best looking resume, let alone deciphering one that has not been prepared properly. Your resume has to scream professionalism and attention to detail, the thought being that if your resume is a disaster, then you yourself are not an organized, capable candidate. The following tips are things to keep in mind when composing or revising your resume.
Proofread—At the bare minimum, your resume must be free of misspellings, and be grammatically correct. Re-read your resume, and then have two other people read it as well, since they are likely to catch things you might have missed.
Provide up to date contact information—You can have the most amazing resume on earth and you still will not be invited for an interview or receive a job offer if the place you are applying to does not know how to reach you. They should not have to hire a private investigator to fill in this critical bit of information.
Visual Presentation is Key—Make your resume easy on the eyes. There should be adequate spacing so that the reader will not need to dig for why you are so awesome.
Be Concise— Get to the point. Do not use unnecessary words or phrases, because anyone will tell you that the people screening resumes in HR departments are short on time, and shorter on patience.
List Your Experiences in Reverse Chronological Order—The most recent experience will be the most relevant since that is likely the strongest, freshest skill set that you are bringing with you o a new position.
Highlight Academic Honors—Listing awards is always a good idea, since it shows that someone else thought your effort merited recognition. It also automatically means that you are a better candidate than others, because academic honors are by their nature competitive—you were recognized as exceptional, above other members of your school.
Self Promote Your Achievements and Responsibilities—What did you do? Recognize the valuable roles that you have played in whatever organizations you’ve worked with. It’s great to be humble and share credit, but ultimately you are showing why you deserve a position. Sell yourself, because if you don’t, no one else will.
Avoid Adding a Second Page—Unless you are in academia, applying to an academic position, and have published or lectured extensively, your resume should be one page long.
Tailor Resume Versions to Career Goals and Your Audience—Your resume should speak honestly about the work you’ve done and experiences you’ve had, but through the lens of what would be valuable and relevant to the job and employer you are applying to. If you are applying to a financial position, they will not find your work with the Crocheting Society very relevant, unless perhaps you manage the Society’s finances.
Avoid Jargon—When describing your experiences, do not use industry-specific jargon. Often, the first person reading a resume in a company will be someone in the human resources department. They may be a specialist in hiring, and not a specialist in that company’s industry. The achievements that are detailed on your resume should be easy for anyone to understand, no matter their professional background.
Electronic Formatting—Even after you spend time getting them picture perfect, beware formatting. Word documents can have inconsistent margins depending on what version of Office is used to edit or open them. If you tend to send your resumes electronically, send them as PDFs (unless the company asks for another format). This will hold the formatting.
So that’s it for general tips on shining up your resume. In the future we’ll discus a little more on content and structure of a good resume. For now, follow these guidelines to compose a great resume that is worthy of your experiences.
By Xevion B., Wall Street Services Reporter